November 2010 Archives


There are a lot of interesting things to be learned indirectly from all of these Wikileaks document dumps. The most visible lesson, of course, is that governments regularly lie to their citizens to further unpopular agendas, hiding evidence of unspeakable war crimes and attrocities by the military and intelligence agencies without any meaningful accountability from Congress or the public.

Less visible is the irony that while the U.S. government consistently cries wolf over the potential danger to informants and the like from these document dumps -- and while no person has even gotten so much as a nosebleed as a result contrary to these exaggerated complaints -- the act of obsessive government secrecy itself is actually and truly putting lives in danger.

One important finding in the 9/11 commission report was the lack of information sharing between America's various intelligence agencies (over 15 in total) that prevented any one agency from putting the whole picture together to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. These barriers were erected after President Nixon abused those intelligence agencies to spy on his personal political enemies as safeguards to protect the privacy and safety of the American people.

What Julian Assange/Wikileaks does is not illegal

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While I wait to see if Wikileaks is going to open access to the embargoed State Department cables for non-privileged media outlets, I want to point out two things that I think are really important to keep in mind about all of this.

John Kampfner of The Independent attributes the media's anger at Wikileaks to having their subserviance to the government exposed so publicly and often. It isn't a reach to say that Wikileaks has taken on the traditional role of government accountability long since abandoned by the "real" press. Kampfner's story is largely critical of the British press, but everything he says applies equally to the American press as well. From petty, privacy-invading smear jobs like this one by the New York Times targeting Julian Assange personally, to their heavy and unquestioning reliance on propaganda fed to them by government officials always insisting on anonymity.

The definition of a failed press is one that repeats whatever it is told by those who have the power it admires and wants for itself, at the expense of an informed public.

Is Wikileaks more important than their namesake?

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Logo used by Wikileaks

Image via Wikipedia

Just saw this deranged smear by Wikpedia co-found Larry Sanger speaking of Wikileaks: "Speaking as Wikipedia's co-founder, I consider you enemies of the U.S.--not just the government, but the people."

I wonder if the Wikimedia Foundation is aware of and condones such overtly pro-U.S. political statements on their behalf by Sanger, and if they now consider that the official position of the foundation.

What I actually find more interesting -- other than that someone in such a position would publicly say something that deranged and authoritarian and decidedly anti-American on behalf of an entire apolitical organization dedicated to the free flow of information -- is that in the grand scheme, hasn't Wikileaks already had a bigger impact on the world the couple of years they've been around than Wikipedia has or will ever have?

Sure, it's nice to have access to such a massive encyclopedia online for free, but isn't that just a great open source product? Does that even belong in the same conversation as the earthquakes Wikileaks has generated just in the past year alone? I think the answer, despite Wikipedia's massive size and omnipresence, is a big fat no.

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