Yeah, this will help

30 years of peace


Israel National News:

Documents revealed by Wikileaks show that Egypt continues to see Israel as its primary military threat despite a decades-old peace treaty. Egypt and Israel fought against each other in four wars before signing the treaty in 1979.

United States diplomats have been frustrated as Egyptian leaders focus on being prepared for war with Israel while ignoring threats such as terrorism and weapons smuggling.

“The United States has sought to interest the Egyptian military into expanding their mission in ways that reflect new regional and transnational security threats, such as piracy, border security, and counterterrorism,” said one leaked file.

“But the aging leadership, however, has resisted our efforts and remained satisfied with continuing to do what they have done for years: train for force-on-force warfare with a premium on grounds forces and armor.”

A leaked memo addressed to U.S. General David Petraeus ahead of a 2008 visit to Egypt warns that Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi in particular is the “chief impediment” to U.S. efforts to involve the Egyptian military in fighting modern threats. “During his tenure, the tactical and operational readiness of the Egyptian Armed forces has decayed,” the memo stated.

This is why I am skeptical of WikiLeaks. I cannot see how publishing this information can possibly contribute to lasting peace in the Middle East.

What do we gain by having this knowledge made public? How has WikiLeaks made Hillary Clinton’s job easier?

Now some fans of WikiLeaks have been defending the secretive organization by pointing out they have only leaked a small portion of the State Department cables. But that begs the question – what do they still have and why haven’t they released it yet?

Someone once said that the best way to lie is to use the truth selectively.


The Empire Strikes Back

Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do when they come for you?


Nobody saw this coming:

FBI Raids Texas Company in Hunt for Anonymous

The FBI has raided a Texan hosting company and seized equipment believed to have been used in the distributed denial of service attacks that targeted supposed “enemies” of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which included the likes of PayPal and MasterCard.

It was actually PayPal that set the wheels in motion, as investigators working for the company supplied the FBI with eight IP addresses that had hosted an IRC chat of Anonymous members. Agents operating out of the Bureau’s San Francisco office then began to trace at least two of the IPs, with help from law enforcement organizations in Europe.

The first IP was traced back to a company called Host Europe, which is based in Germany. The German Federal Criminal Police investigated further and discovered that the server in question belonged to a man in France, but that it had been compromised by a third party. The IP of this third party put the ball back in the FBI’s court, as it originated from a dedicated server hosting company based in Dallas, Texas. Agents copied the contents of two hard drives from inside the server on December 16th, but the Bureau not revealed what – if anything – it has discovered.

The second IP that PayPal handed over was traced to a server held by a Californian hosting company. It’s not known at this time if the FBI has also seized data from this second site, but it seems a reasonably safe assumption that it did.

It was inevitable that the government would do something like this. There is no such thing as “anonymous” on the Internet anymore (if there ever was.) Anything you do online can be monitored, traced and/or tracked. The feds have the resources and the will to do it.

I said before that those 15 year old hackers from 20 years ago are now 35 year old cyber-security experts. Some of them work for the government.

Before the usual suspects start calling me an authoritarian again, this isn’t about what I think should happen. This is about what I think WILL happen.

The feds are gonna catch some of these wannabe revolutionaries. Not all, but some. Then they are gonna make an example out of the ones they catch.


You can read the warrant affidavit here.



WikiLeaks vs. The Pentagon Papers


Floyd Abrams:

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.

Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”

The diplomatic volumes were not published, even in part, for another dozen years. Mr. Ellsberg later explained his decision to keep them secret, according to Sanford Ungar’s 1972 book “The Papers & The Papers,” by saying, “I didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.”

Julian Assange sure does. Can anyone doubt that he would have made those four volumes public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity? Or that he would have paid not even the slightest heed to the possibility that they might seriously compromise efforts to bring a speedier end to the war?

Mr. Ellsberg himself has recently denounced the “myth” of the “good” Pentagon Papers as opposed to the “bad” WikiLeaks. But the real myth is that the two disclosures are the same.

The Pentagon Papers revelations dealt with a discrete topic, the ever-increasing level of duplicity of our leaders over a score of years in increasing the nation’s involvement in Vietnam while denying it. It revealed official wrongdoing or, at the least, a pervasive lack of candor by the government to its people.

WikiLeaks is different. It revels in the revelation of “secrets” simply because they are secret. It assaults the very notion of diplomacy that is not presented live on C-Span. It has sometimes served the public by its revelations but it also offers, at considerable potential price, a vast amount of material that discloses no abuses of power at all.

Mr. Abrams should know what he’s talking about. He represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case.

So Abrams says that WikiLeaks is not the Pentagon Papers. I’ll go even farther and say that the Pentagon Papers is not the Pentagon Papers.

Some people think the Pentagon Papers were key to ending the war in Vietnam. But they were released in 1971, three years after the Tet Offensive which was the major turning point in public opinion. People today forget that Nixon ran for President in 1968 on a promise to end the war. By 1971 the Paris Peace Talks were well under way.

The Pentagon Papers were officially titled “United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.” They were commissioned in June 1967 by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara:

McNamara claimed that he wanted to leave a written record for historians, but kept the study secret from the rest of the Johnson administration. Neither President Lyndon Johnson nor Secretary of State Dean Rusk knew about the study until its publication; they believed McNamara might have planned to give the work to his friend Robert F. Kennedy, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.

Instead of using existing Defense Department historians, McNamara assigned his close aide and Assistant Secretary of Defense John T. McNaughton, McNaughton’s aide Morton H. Halperin, and Defense Department official Leslie H. Gelb to lead the task force. Thirty-six analysts—half of them active-duty military officers, the rest academics and civilian federal employees—worked on the study. The analysts largely used existing files in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and did no interviews or consultations with the armed forces, the White House, or other federal agencies to keep the study secret from others, including National Security Advisor Walt W. Rostow.

The Pentagon Papers were the military’s version of history. They were prepared for political purposes and many of the “secrets” they revealed weren’t really secrets.

The Papers revealed that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, none of which had been reported by media in the US.

The Cambodians and the Laotians knew we were bombing targets in their country. So did thousands of pilots and other military personnel. The North Vietnamese knew about the bombings and the raids on their coast. The Chinese and Soviets knew all these things too.

These things were being reported in the media outside the United States. Just like in 2002 and 2003 when the international media were telling a different tale about Iraq.

So once again we have our media “revealing” things that would have been revealed long before if they were doing their jobs.

BTW – Ellsberg didn’t go straight to the New York Times:

Now opposing the war, Ellsberg and his friend Anthony Russo photocopied the study in October 1969 intending to disclose it. He approached Nixon National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Senators William Fulbright and George McGovern, and others, but nobody was interested.


WikiLeaks vs. The Law of Unintended Consequences


(Oh no he didn’t) (Oh yes he did)
The Atlantic:

How WikiLeaks Just Set Back Democracy in Zimbabwe

Last year, early on Christmas Eve morning, representatives from the U.S., United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the European Union arrived for a meeting with Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Appointed prime minister earlier that year as part of a power-sharing agreement after the fraud- and violence-ridden 2008 presidential election, Tsvangirai and his political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are considered Zimbabwe’s greatest hopes for unseating the country’s long-time de facto dictator Robert Mugabe and bringing democratic reforms to the country.

The topic of the meeting was the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by a collection of western countries, including the U.S. and E.U. Tsvangirai told the western officials that, while there had been some progress in the last year, Mugabe and his supporters were dragging their feet on delivering political reforms. To overcome this, he said that the sanctions on Zimbabwe “must be kept in place” to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power. The prime minister openly admitted the incongruity between his private support for the sanctions and his public statements in opposition. If his political adversaries knew Tsvangirai secretly supported the sanctions, deeply unpopular with Zimbabweans, they would have a powerful weapon to attack and discredit the democratic reformer.

Later that day, the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe dutifully reported the details of the meeting to Washington in a confidential U.S. State Department diplomatic cable. And slightly less than one year later, WikiLeaks released it to the world.

The reaction in Zimbabwe was swift. Zimbabwe’s Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of the leaked cable. While it’s unlikely Tsvangirai could be convicted on the contents of the cable alone, the political damage has already been done. The cable provides Mugabe the opportunity to portray Tsvangirai as an agent of foreign governments working against the people of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it could provide Mugabe with the pretense to abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.

The Guardian:

Assange defended one of WikiLeaks’ collaborators, Israel Shamir, following claims Shamir passed sensitive cables to Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has arrested 600 opposition supporters and journalists since Sunday’s presidential election. The whereabouts and fate of several of the president’s high-profile opponents are unknown.

Of Shamir, Assange said: “WikiLeaks works with hundreds of journalists from different regions of the world. All are required to sign non-disclosure agreements and are generally only given limited review access to material relating to their region. We have no reason to believe these rumours in relation to Belarus are true.”


If people die as a result of WikiLeaks’ disclosure of classified information, do we just write them off as collateral damage? What liability, if any, should WikiLeaks and the original leakers (if they can be identified) have for those deaths?

Back to The Atlantic for this piece by Jaron Lanier:

The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: The Case of WikiLeaks

[...]

Openness in itself, as the prime driver of events, doesn’t lead to achievement or creativity.

One problem is that information in oceanic magnitudes can confuse and confound as easily as it can clarify and empower, even when the information is correct. There is vastly more financial data set down in the world’s computers than there ever has been before, including publically accessible data, and yet the economy is a mess. How can this be, if information is the solution?

A sufficiently copious flood of data creates an illusion of omniscience, and that illusion can make you stupid. Another way to put this is that a lot of information made available over the internet encourages players to think as if they had a God’s eye view, looking down on the whole system.

A financier, for instance, might not be able to resist the temptations of access to seemingly endless data. If you can really look down on the whole market from on high, then you ought to be able to just pluck money out of it without risk, which leads to the notion of a highly computerized, data intensive, brobdingnagian hedge fund. This is fine, for a while, until other people start similar funds and the whole market becomes distorted.

The interesting similarity between Mr. Assange and a typical financier who overdid it is that both attempted to align themselves with a perceived God-like perspective and method made possible by the flow of vast information on the Internet, while both actually got crazy and absurd. Wikileaks and similar efforts could do for politics approximately what access to a lot of data did for finance in the run up to the recession.


There is an old legal trick that is sometimes called “the needle in a haystack.” In response to discovery requests or subpoenas you give them everything including the kitchen sink. You bury the other side in paperwork and hope they won’t find the one or two key documents. (You also run up their legal fees because somebody has to go through all that stuff.)


(h/t Lambert for the Lanier piece)


Trying Times


Banks and WikiLeaks

The whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.

[...]

The Federal Reserve, the banking regulator, allows this. Like other companies, banks can choose whom they do business with. Refusing to open an account for some undesirable entity is seen as reasonable risk management. The government even requires banks to keep an eye out for some shady businesses — like drug dealing and money laundering — and refuse to do business with those who engage in them.

But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

[...]

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.

I’m no fan of banks, and I think anything that is “too big too fail” is too damn big. But this situation is problematic because WikiLeaks is threatening to leak damaging information about the banks that don’t want to do business with them.

If I wanted to run an ad criticizing the NY Times should they be forced to accept my advertising?

If we require banks to do business with everybody we’ll have to indemnify them from criminal and civil liability. There’s some real potential for abuse there too. Perhaps a better solution is to break up the big banks. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

It should be noted that the NYT is hardly a disinterested player here. They have been publishing the leaked documents and were getting them direct from WikiLeaks until they published an unfavorable profile of Julian Assange.

Here’s an example:

Cables Portray Expanded Reach of Drug Agency

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.

In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to some news organizations, offer glimpses of drug agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments.

This is also an example of what I mean when I say the information coming from WikiLeaks isn’t exactly earth-shattering. Anyone who has been paying attention to the war on drugs knows that the DEA has been engaged in some dubious activities in foreign countries.

Missionary plane shot down in Peru: collateral damage in US “drug war”

How Much Did the DEA Spend on its Africa Vacation?

What have the leaked cables told us that the NYT didn’t already know or couldn’t have easily found out on their own?

The New York Times threw away it’s credibility in the run-up to the war in Iraq and the outing of Valerie Plame. The past couple of years they have been Obamafluffers.

I hope you’ll understand if I’m somewhat less than hopeful that they have suddenly seen the light.


Ask questions, get answers, remain skeptical

Julian Assange's temporary jail


Yesterday I asked some questions about WikiLeaks. Today I got a few answers.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Now Making $86k/year

WikiLeaks’ main financial arm, the Germany-based Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about 1 million Euro ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, the year in which WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified U.S. documents, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Wau Holland is the primary but not sole financial provider for WikiLeaks, the Journal reports.

From those donations, Wau Holland has established a Greenpeace-like system of salary payments, as WikiLeaks attempts to legitimize its organization by moving away from purely volunteer-based work, the Journal reports. The move to make salaried employees allegedly comes after a year-long intense internal debate about whether to do so.

The main beneficiary has been founder Julian Assange, who has drawn 66,000 Euros (about $86,000) in salary thus far this year, the Journal reports. Wau Holland has paid a total of 100,000 Euros in salaries to the entire WikiLeaks staff, which means Assange is getting the lion’s share.

WikiLeaks will pay key personnel based on a salary structure developed by the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, the Journal reports. Under the structure, Greenpeace department heads are paid about 5,500 Euros in monthly salary, a Wau Holland spokesman said.

Among the many revelations from the Journal report are several indications that donations to WikiLeaks have dropped off significantly in the second half of the year.

By August, WikiLeaks had raised about 765,000 Euro, which means it has only raised about 235,000 Euro since then, the Journal reports.

Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about 150,000 Euro a year. Now, however, the foundation says it has paid about 380,000 Euro in WikiLeaks expenses, with some invoices for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, Internet access and travel, a Wau Holland spokesman said. But a big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.

WikiLeaks had also allegedly promised to contribute half of the estimated $100,000 it will cost for the legal defense of Bradley Manning. Recently, however, a WikiLeaks spokesman said it would only donate around $20,000.

As of the writing of this report, it had still not contributed the funds. The Wau Holland Foundation is awaiting advice from its lawyers on whether the donation would be legal under German law, a spokesman told the Journal.

There is more detail at the Joe Moneybags Newsletter:

On the fundraising front, Mr. Assange in August said WikiLeaks had raised about $1 million (€763,000) since the beginning of 2010. He said the group got about half of its money from modest donations via its website, and the rest from “personal contacts,” including wealthy donors who give tens of thousands of dollars.

Much of this money was donated to the WikiLeaks account at the Wau Holland Foundation, Mr. Fulda said.

That last sentence is the part that triggers my bullshit detector. That’s a huge loophole in this story.

This isn’t WikiLeaks opening it’s books. This is an organization that collects SOME of the donations to WikiLeaks and supposedly pays all their bills. Mr. Fulda may be 100% honest, but where did he get his information? How does he know how much money was donated via other avenues?

A couple other things bother me. WikiLeaks profile has skyrocketed since August, but their receipts have gone down? How much money has been contributed to Assange’s legal defense fund? Who controls it?

Who is paying Assange’s living expenses? He doesn’t seem to pay for anything, he gets his fan club to support him. According to the Guardian he was staying rent free at Woman #1′s apartment and he got Woman #2 to pay for movie and train tickets. He’s staying in a mansion on a 300 acre estate right now.

I remain skeptical.

One last note – just because I don’t trust WikiLeaks doesn’t mean I trust the government. It’s not either/or.

Progressives say that right-wingers are paranoid. I don’t think progressives are paranoid enough.



Wrong Emphasis


Sarah Palin Uses Info Gleaned From ‘Treasonous’ WikiLeaks To Pen Op-Ed On Dangers Of Iran

Sarah Palin sought to build her foreign policy credentials on Tuesday, with a new op-ed arguing that the Obama administration needs to “toughen up” on Iran based on information from leaked diplomatic cables that she had earlier denounced.

Their point:

Sarah Palin hypocritically uses WikiLeaks information to gin up war with Iran.

The important point:

Sarah Palin hypocritically uses WikiLeaks information to gin up war with Iran.

When are progressives gonna figure this shit out?


What's the matter? Don't you like clowns?


A few questions about WikiLeaks


Ian Welsh has a post up:

I am now an American Express Cardholder because of Wikileaks

Since Mastercard and Visa, in cutting off Wikileaks from donations, decided that they knew better than me who I should be able to give money to, I applied for and have now received an American Express card. Granted, American Express isn’t always a good actor, but at least they are willing to allow me to spend my money, my way.

I know what some of you are thinking (Oh Gawd, here he goes again!) but I have no problem with how Ian chooses to spend his money. It’s a free country.

I did have some questions for him though:

Just out of curiosity, Ian, do you know where your donations to Wikileaks are going?

How much money are they taking in? How much of it goes to overhead (server fees, etc) and how much goes to salaries? Who gets those salaries, and how much do they receive?

Is there some place where we can examine their books?

I think everyone should be interested in the answers to those questions.

Would people feel the same way about WikiLeaks if Julian Assange was raking in millions for himself?

Where the money comes from is another question. One can argue that the sources of the money should remain secret in order to protect them, but the government can get that information fairly easily if it really wants it.

This is a group dedicated to transparency. What if some neocon billionaire was a major donor? How about a foreign government? Wouldn’t that change your perception of WikiLeaks?

Just wondering.


The Cult of Assange


Michael Lind at Salon:

An invisible, stateless, global Panopticon, manned by hidden zealots subjecting everyone in every country to potential surveillance and public humiliation, is a Foucaultian nightmare. Here is the creepy message sent to Wired magazine before a wave of criminal cyber-attacks launched by supporters of Assange:

We are the clear logic used to unveil wrongdoing. The general public, clouded by misleading information mostly by the media with a political agenda, fails to see and understand this wrongdoing. Because of this, those who do the wrongdoing escape unpunished. Anonymous is here to ensure punishment does not go unserved to those who deserve it.

The masked vigilante Batman could not have put it better, in a note to the citizens of Gotham City. This juvenile posturing is worthy of the Symbionese Liberation Army or Subcommandante Marcos or the Unabomber. Or Julian Assange in his online anarcho-libertarian manifesto, according to which all public and private organizations are authoritarian conspiracies — except, of course, for his own organization.

Like other illiberal sects, the cult of Assange rationalizes its contempt for law and ordinary politics by dismissing the “general public” as passive fools brainwashed by the “media with a political agenda.” So much for democracy.

As in other forms of anti-liberal thought, like anarchism and fascism and Marxism-Leninism and radical Islamism, the central idea of cyber-anarchism is that society must be saved by a self-appointed vanguard of vigilantes who themselves are above the law and whose motives are beyond question: “Anonymous is here to ensure punishment does not go unserved to those who deserve it.” So much for liberalism, which dreads arbitrary power, fears hero worship and assumes that charismatic rebels as well as bureaucratic authorities are likely to be fallible, biased and corrupt.

Cult-like political and intellectual movements can be identified by their nonfalsifiability. Cultists deflect criticism by defaming critics. If you criticize Freudianism, you must be sexually repressed. If you criticize Marxism, you must be bourgeois or brainwashed by the bourgeoisie. If you criticize WikiLeaks, as I have done, you must be an agent of the authoritarian “national security state” or its brainwashed dupe. According to Assange himself, Mastercard, PayPal and Visa, which have refused to process money for WikiLeaks, are “instruments of U.S. foreign policy.” By the logic of the cult, the two Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange of sexual abuse can only be part of a global conspiracy at the highest levels to bring him down. The Birthers and Birchers and Truthers now have company.

I’m not going to add anything. Res ipsa loquitur. Let me just repeat this one sentence:

If you criticize WikiLeaks, as I have done, you must be an agent of the authoritarian “national security state” or its brainwashed dupe.


Confidence Men


It’s no secret I’m skeptical of WikiLeaks. It really seems to piss some people off that I don’t think the organization is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sorry, but I’m a foliehatt and don’t trust anyone.

Neither does this guy:


Wikileaks: a Big Dangerous US Government Con Job

The story on the surface makes for a script for a new Oliver Stone Hollywood thriller. However, a closer look at the details of what has so far been carefully leaked by the most ultra-establishment of international media such as the New York Times reveals a clear agenda. That agenda coincidentally serves to buttress the agenda of US geopolitics around the world from Iran to North Korea. The Wikileaks is a big and dangerous US intelligence Con Job which will likely be used to police the Internet.

[...]

Then the plot thickens. The 250,000 pages end up at the desk of Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian founder of a supposedly anti-establishment website with the cute name Wikileaks. Assange decides to selectively choose several of the world’s most ultra-establishment news media to exclusively handle the leaking job for him as he seems to be on the run from Interpol, not for leaking classified information, but for allegedly having consensual sex with two Swedish women who later decided it was rape.

He selects as exclusive newspapers to decide what is to be leaked the New York Times which did such service in promoting faked propaganda against Saddam that led to the Iraqi war, the London Guardian and Der Spiegel. Assange claims he had no time to sift through so many pages so handed them to the trusted editors of the establishment media for them to decide what should be released. Very “anti-establishment” that.

The New York Times even assigned one of its top people, David E. Sanger, to control the release of the Wikileaks material. Sanger is no establishment outsider. He sits as a member of the elite Council on Foreign Relations as well as the Aspen Institute Strategy Group together with the likes of Condi Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former CIA head John Deutch, former State Department Deputy Secretary and now World Bank head Robert Zoellick among others.

[...]

The latest sensational Wikileaks documents allegedly from the US State Department embassies around the world to Washington are definitely not as Hillary Clinton claimed “an attack on America’s foreign policy interests that have endangered innocent people.” And they do not amount to what the Italian foreign minister, called the “September 11 of world diplomacy.” The British government calls them a threat to national security and an aide to Canada’s Prime Minister calls on the CIA to assassinate Assange, as does kooky would-be US Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.

Most important, the 250,000 cables are not “top secret” as we might have thought. Between two and three million US Government employees are cleared to see this level of “secret” document, [1] and some 500,000 people around the world have access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRnet) where the cables were stored. SIPRnet is not recommended for distribution of top-secret information. Only 6% or 15,000 pages of the documents have been classified as even secret, a level below top-secret. Another 40% were the lowest level, “confidential”, while the rest were unclassified. In brief, it was not all that secret. [2]

Most of the revelations so far have been unspectacular. In Germany the revelations led to the removal of a prominent young FDP politician close to Guido Westerwelle who apparently liked to talk too much to his counterpart at the US Embassy. The revelations about Russian politics, that a US Embassy official refers to Putin and Medvedev as “Batman and Robin,” tells more about the cultural level of current US State Department personnel than it does about internal Russian politics.

But for anyone who has studied the craft of intelligence and of disinformation, a clear pattern emerges in the Wikileaks drama. The focus is put on select US geopolitical targets, appearing as Hillary Clinton put it “to justify US sanctions against Iran.” They claim North Korea with China’s granting of free passage to Korean ships despite US State Department pleas, send dangerous missiles to Iran. Saudi Arabia’s ailing King Abdullah reportedly called Iran’s President a Hitler.

[...]

What is emerging from all the sound and Wikileaks fury in Washington is that the entire scandal is serving to advance a long-standing Obama and Bush agenda of policing the until-now free Internet. Already the US Government has shut the Wikileaks server in the United States though no identifiable US law has been broken.

The process of policing the Web was well underway before the current leaks scandal. In 2009 Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller and Republican Olympia Snowe introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S.773). IIt would give the President unlimited power to disconnect private-sector computers from the internet. The bill “would allow the president to ’declare a cyber-security emergency’ relating to ’non-governmental’ computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat.” We can expect that now this controversial piece of legislation will get top priority when a new Republican House and the Senate convene in January.

(No! WikiLeaks is GOOD!)

Think I’m crazy? More than a few people have noticed that so far WikiLeaks is helping the neocon case for a war with Iran. On the other hand, what big secrets have they revealed? Oh sure, they’ve released a few things that were previously unknown, but they haven’t upset any big apple carts, now have they?

The term “con job” comes from the term “confidence men” which is an old-timey term for scam artists. A good con man lures you in by giving you a taste of riches, then once they have your confidence they clean out your life savings.

Imagine this – WikiLeaks releases a document that reveals the identities of C.I.A. agents, operatives and/or sources inside Iran. These people are then promptly arrested and executed as spies.

Not only would that discredit liberals and help gin-up a war with Iran, but it would be used to justify new government controls and oversight of the internet. Hello, Big Brother.

Oopsie!

That’s not exactly the rosy scenario that WikiLeaks supporters are dreaming of, is it?

(Oh, myiq, why won’t you drink the WikiLeaks Kool-aid? Are you some kind of authoritarian?)

Why should I trust WikiLeaks? I don’t even know who they are. Do you?

Seriously, who are they?

According to Wikipedia:

WikiLeaks is an international new media non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. Its website, launched in 2006 and run by The Sunshine Press,[3] claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch.[7] The organisation describes its founders as a mix of Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.[3] Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its director.[8] WikiLeaks was originally launched as a user-editable wiki site, but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model, and no longer accepts either user comments or edits.

[...]

The wikileaks.org domain name was registered on 4 October 2006.[4] The website was unveiled, and published its first document in December 2006.[31][32] The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”.[3]

The creators of WikiLeaks have not been formally identified.[33] It has been represented in public since January 2007 by Julian Assange and others. Assange describes himself as a member of WikiLeaks’ advisory board.[34] News reports in The Australian have called Assange the “founder of WikiLeaks”.[35] According to Wired magazine, a volunteer said that Assange described himself in a private conversation as “the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier, and all the rest”.[36] As of June 2009[update], the site had over 1,200 registered volunteers[3] and listed an advisory board comprising Assange, Phillip Adams, Wang Dan, C. J. Hinke, Ben Laurie, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, Xiao Qiang, Chico Whitaker and Wang Youcai.[37] Despite appearing on the list Khamsitsang said that while he received an e-mail from WikiLeaks, he had never agreed to be an advisor.[38] Adams said he’d also never met Assange or been asked for any advice and suggested that other members of the board hadn’t either.[37]


Do you know any of those people? I sure don’t. That’s the “advisory board.” But who actually runs WikiLeaks?

Not Julian Assange, not lately anyway. He’s too busy playing the International Man of Mystery. So who runs Wikileaks? Where are their loyalties and what are their goals?

More importantly, where are the leaks coming from?

Whistleblowers are like criminal informants. Most of them are bad people with ulterior motives. Their consciences kick in and they start ratting about the same time they get fired or screwed over by the people they rat on.

I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or the Great Pumpkin (okay, maybe the Great Pumpkin.) That’s magical thinking.

WikiLeaks is magical thinking.

This organization of people we don’t know much about will use sources we don’t know anything about and via the awesome power of the internet the world will be transformed into a paradise filled with fluffy bunnies. Riiiiight.

Remember the Progressive Blogosphere 1.0? They were going to use the awesome power of the internet to transform politics and turn America into a Liberal paradise filled with fluffy bunnies.

How did that work out?

(But WikiLeaks hasn’t broken any laws!)

Maybe not. But even if it isn’t against the law to publish classified and/or stolen information on the web now, it will be soon. Bet on it.

But there are some other laws involved here. Like the Law of Unintended Consequences and Newton’s Third Law:

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Oh, you thought that law just applied to physics? Silly you.

One last point – I think it’s funny how WikiLeak supporters are outraged that the banks are cutting ties to WikiLeaks. Glenzilla mentions in yesterday’s post. Some people think the government is forcing the banks to do that. Hello?

That’s the tail wagging the dog.

Did it ever occur to anyone that the banks are distancing themselves from WikiLeaks so that when the fit hits the Shan they won’t be anywhere in the vicinity?

Who will be in the vicinity?

Progressive bloggers. Michael Moore. Liberals.

There are no shortcuts. Confidence men offer “get rich quick” schemes. WikiLeaks offers a “get government reform quick” scheme. Don’t trust either one.

Government needs to be reformed, but WikiLeaks isn’t the answer. There are no magic wands to wave and fix everything. Just hard work.



UPDATE:

CIA launches task force to assess impact of U.S. cables’ exposure by WikiLeaks

[...]

The irreverence is perhaps understandable for an agency that has been relatively unscathed by WikiLeaks. Only a handful of CIA files have surfaced on the WikiLeaks Web site, and records from other agencies posted online reveal remarkably little about CIA employees or operations.

If WikiLeaks is a CIA plot then they wouldn’t be hurt by its disclosures, now would they?

Where’s my foliehatt?


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