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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 29, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Altercation: Goodbye and Thanks Eric Alterman, January 27, 2023 [The American Prospect] The key question I want to leave people with is this: Given the lack of guardrails, how far are these people willing to go? Trump is as popular as he was before January 6th and has been invited back on […]
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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.


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.


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?

133 Responses

  1. More openness, or less?

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

    The CIA has launched a task force to assess the impact of the exposure of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and military files by WikiLeaks.

    Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it’s mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: W.T.F.

    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.


    And the task force is focused on the immediate impact of the most recently released files. One issue is whether the agency’s ability to recruit informants could be damaged by declining confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to keep secrets.

    “The director asked the task force to examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency’s foreign relationships or operations,” CIA spokesman George Little said. The panel is being led by the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center but has more than two dozen members from departments across the agency.

    To some agency veterans, WikiLeaks has vindicated the CIA’s long-standing aversion to sharing secrets with other government agencies, a posture that came under sharp criticism after it was identified as a factor that contributed to the nation’s failure to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    Even while moving to share more information over the past decade, the agency “has not capitulated to this business of making everything available to outsiders,” said a former high-ranking CIA official who recently retired. “They don’t even make everything available to insiders. And by and large the system has worked.”


    The agency employs software measures to minimize the chance of a WikiLeaks-like leak. Agency systems send warnings to administrators whenever a large amount of data is downloaded. And most of the CIA’s computers are not equipped to allow the use of a removable drive.

    Asked what might happen if he had inserted a thumb drive into the machine at his desk, the former senior CIA official quipped: “There would probably be a little trap door under my chair.”

    Even so, CIA security experts have fretted for years about the implications of moving secret information from pieces of paper to digital files that can be distributed online.

    “It’s just a huge vulnerability,” the former high-ranking CIA officer said. “Nobody could carry out enough paper to do what WikiLeaks has done.”

    Tighter security and more secrecy. Nobody saw that coming.

    • Not only is Wikileaks guilty of rape, but also of causing a war with Iran in a hypothetical future. (if not in this universe, then in a parallel one)

      Also, *who is doing the leaking*? I mean, it’s good to get more info on what the government is doing in our name, but the leakers should clearly identify themselves so we know what their motives are. Otherwise there’s no way we can interpret documents like embassy cables.

      Also, we should torture and imprison leakers on trumped up charges, or without charges, because I don’t like them personally and they give me an icky feeling.

  2. If WikiLeaks did not exist, it would be necessary for the CIA to invent it.
    (Forgive me Voltaire)

  3. That extended quote was from Voltairenet. Voltaire was French. You are siding with those cheese eating surrender monkeys.
    Why do you hate America?

  4. Hmmmm

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will issue a public, formal and official call in upcoming days for US President Barack Obama to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, the Prime Minister’s Office announced in a press release Tuesday.


    Shortly after Pollard began working at the NIS he met Aviem Sella, an Israeli Air Force combat veteran who was at the time a graduate student at New York University, on leave from his position as Colonel in order to gain a master’s in computer science. Within a few days, in June 1984, Pollard started passing classified information to Sella and received, in exchange, $10,000 cash and a very expensive diamond and sapphire ring, which Pollard later used to propose marriage to his girlfriend Anne. He also agreed to receive $1,500 per month for further espionage.[13]

    According to Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigator Ronald Olive, Pollard also passed classified information to South Africa[14] and attempted, through a third party, to sell classified information to Pakistan on multiple occasions.[15] Pollard also used his access to secret documents to furnish classified information to nongovernmental employees, including two friends of his who worked as professional investment advisers.[16] Pollard also stole classified documents related to the People’s Republic of China, on behalf of his wife Anne; Anne Pollard used the classified assessments to advance her personal business interests, and kept them around the Pollard household, where they were discovered by investigating authorities when Pollard’s espionage activity came to light.

    Passing classified documents is what Bradley Manning is accused of.

    • Poor Pollard, but he has such great symbolic value. Whenever some half educated imam writes Izreal=Amerika on some third world blackboard there is the yearly release-Pollard reminder that no, there have been some unfriendly acts that are not forgotten.

      Maybe they can trade him for Manning if the right documents about Manning can come to light (since foliehatt is la mode du jour.

  5. I’m in the skeptical mode, not on the tinfoil mode that wikileaks is a government job, or that Assange is the greatest journalist ever. I’m happy to read about certain details of what the government has been doing. I’m also watching how the government is moving against Assange and nobody, at least on the left, seems to give a sh*t about it. It’s an amazing story in itself. The government has:

    – Closed all banking services of wikileaks and Assange without cause. There’s no law that allows banks to economically marginalize anyone at will. I can’t imagine what it would be not to be able to have a bank account.

    – Labeled Assange a “terrorist”. This label might seem to be an off the cuff remark, but it was not, and the implications of someone being labeled a terrorist means the government can disappear anyone at will.

  6. Wars (and missing blond cheerleaders) sell ad space and time slots.
    So the question is can Joe or Jane Sixpack access the leaked cables and e-mails without the filter of the media?

    Out of everything mentioned the most disturbing is that the Canadian PM called for Assange’s assassination. I thought there was a safe haven that could be driven to when the lunatics completely over run Washington.

    • That was not the Prime Minister, that was a former adviser to Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, who made an off color joke.

    • Every time you use that ‘missing blond cheerleader’ line, it makes my blood boil. Why is it so important that the world ignore that fact that women are often brutally murdered? I know that it refers to the supposed fact that only ‘rich’, ‘white’ women that are brutally murdered have their murders reported. Lucky them, oh wait, they are DEAD.

      • I’m more than a little tired of the blond thing too, as a euphemism for stupid.

      • ditto. I think of Natalie Holloway when I see that line. And then I recall that I barely survived a rapist who was “into” snuff pornography when I was in my early 20’s. The dead women and girls are legion, and not to be forgotten or minimized.

  7. I don’t know who this guy is either. I do know that I am hesitant to support anybody who declares themselves to be architects of civilization. That is some major hubris.

    As to tinfoil, I’m starting to wonder of Assange isn’t working for BofA. Geesh, he was going to release some major info on them and the next thing you know BofA shares shot up 18%. Again, he says he’s got big info that could cause CEO resignations and boom, shares climb another 2.85% Assange is like, the best thing to have happened to Bank of America.

    I’m also completely confused as to what bad info he could release about them. What, breaking into people’s falsely foreclosed houses and stealing their dead relatives ashes wasn’t bad enough? Getting billions in taxpayer money hasn’t ruined their reputation? What exactly do people think is going to be revealed about BofA, that they’re self serving corrupt mercenary bankers? Well, duh.

  8. Assange’s double standards are best demonstrated by his outrage over having some of details of his file at the Swedish prosecutors leaked to the media.

    He did not like this….mmmh, did he not preached openness is good and we need to know what is going on? I guess it is not the same when he does not make the decision what is relevant or not.

    Particularly funny is that the UK Guardian (one of the newspapers which published the leaks) decided to publish this info against his will.

    Dumping all sorts of info on the net for all to see, reminds be a bit of ‘1984’.

    • What I find interesting is the number of people who are outraged at the “violation of his personal privacy.”

      The details that have been leaked are no different than the stuff we see leaked when somebody famous is charged with a crime. You could probably pick up your local paper and find similar details about some nobody charged with a serious crime.

      “ZOMG, he’s being smeared! I can’t believe you are participating in this!”

      They aren’t bothered by the fact that the two women have had their names, photos, addresses and other personal information published on the web. They aren’t bothered by Assange and his lawyers bad-mouthing the women and spreading misinformation about the case. They aren’t angry at Michael Moore for smearing the women on national television.

      They are only worried about HIS reputation.

      • No. We want a fair trial. You said someplace else that you believe in the rule of law. Well, then, follow it. Leaking from a prosecutor’s criminal file is improper and works against a fair trial.

        I am not worried about Assange’s reputation. Another false argument. I am interested in a fair trial.

        • I’d like to see a fair trial too.

          That means a mutual gag order and no one harassing the complaining witnesses.

          I seriously doubt that me expressing my opinions here on this little blog is going to affect a trial in Sweden.

          • You don’t get to set the rules for a fair trial.

            Until there is a gag order (here or in Sweden), a defendant and his/her attorneys can say whatever they want (subject, of course, to later use by the prosecutor at trial). The prosecutor cannot. A defendant is never permitted to harass a complaining witness – either by himself or through his representatives. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And, as far as I can see, you’ve already convicted Assange. Go read up on the Sam Shepard trial. (Yes, yes, it’s not Sweden, but you still might learn something.)

          • Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Time out.
            mjames, all the front pagers at the confluence have different opinions about assange and wikileaks. Myiq doesnt speak for everyone. He speaks for himself. And that’s- OK. You are free to disagree or not. I happen to be of the wait and see mode. I like the idea thar someone is willing to leak confidential documents but they should do a much better job than what has been done in this case. I am suspicious of the whole thing. Perception management is something we all have to be aware of constantly. There’s nothing tabloidy about discussing it, even if it turns out we are all wrong.
            Ax for Sweden, well they have some pretty weird definitions of rape but it’s not my country. I’ll withhold my judgement until we see what comes out at trial. But I’m inclined to hold all parties responsible at this point in time.
            So, be cool. Myiq is one point of view. Yours is another. Mine is another.
            I don’t think myiq was condemning you or anyone else on this blog for being assange zombies. But there are some unquestioning bloggers out there who have become his groupies. They may also be knots. I think ti goes with the territory.
            BTW, I don’t have as much time to post as myiq does and I appreciate the fact that he puts up fresh content for you to like or dislike at your leisure. It’s all good.

    • We discussed this last night. A prosecutor is ethically bound NOT to release any information about a criminally charged, beyond what is contained in the charging instrument. That is grounds for disbarment.

      Here in the states, we call it ensuring a fair trial. Accusations are accusations only. They are not proof. The accusations must be tested in a court of law. Pretrial publicity and leaking of information in a prosecutor’s files will almost surely guarantee a reversal of any conviction – or may even prevent a trial in the first place.

      It is mind-boggling that people do not understand this basis of criminal law. Our government is not a criminal defendant; Assange is.

      • Pretrial publicity and leaking of information in a prosecutor’s files will almost surely guarantee a reversal of any conviction – or may even prevent a trial in the first place.


        This kind of stuff happens every damn day.

        Show me a prosecutor that has been disbarred for leaking information to the press. Sanctions maybe, but that’s it. Leaking information is not grounds for reversal. Pretrial publicity is grounds for a change of venue, but I have never seen a case where a trial was prevented.

        O.J. got a trial and was acquitted. You can’t get any more pretrial publicity than that.

        • So … let me understand. You are now in favor of disregarding ethical rules? Who cares? It’s just some sanctions? And, after all, it’s all for the greater good? Because the other day you were rah-rah for the rule of law.

          • I’m not exactly sure what the ethical rules in Sweden are, but if the prosecutor violated them then he should face the consequences.

            I’m amused at the irony of a leaker complaining about leaks. I don’t see where Assange’s right to a fair trial has been damaged by the release of the information contained in the police report.

            His attorneys either have the report or will have it as soon as he is arraigned. The information would eventually be made public anyway.

            BTW – The ethical rules on pre-trial publicity apply to defense attorneys as well.

          • “I don’t see where Assange’s right to a fair trial has been damaged by the release of the information contained in the police report.”

            Untested allegations are assumed to be harmful to a criminal defendant – and rightly so.

            “The information would eventually be made public anyway.”

            You think Assange’s attorneys are going to release the police report?

        • Wait, isn’t this kinda the way that Ollie north and join pointdexter got away with murder?

          • Their convictions were reversed becuz their immunity testimony before Congress tainted their criminal trials.

            BTW – If I ever have another kid I’m gonna name him Poindexter.

      • Unless the court put a gag (pun intended) on the rape victims, I think is the two women are the ones who leaked the information to the newspapers, not the prosecutor.

        Any way, here is the animation of the accusations as we know them.

  9. Okay, this story requires my tinfoil boxers too:

    Wikileaks Is Great News For Bank of America

    I’m starting to think Julian Assange is a major shareholder in Bank of America. How else can we explain the surge in BofA shares since rumors erupted that the bank was Wikileaks’ next target?

    You know how Lindsay Lohan (or any other messy but relatively talented actor) attracts publicity by being a part of some dramatic story about a break-up or an all-night rager in Las Vegas? This Bank of America/Wikileaks drama kind of reminds me of that, and Assange is playing the role as Bank of America’s genius P.R. manager.

    Okay, maybe not. But consider this: BofA shares are up nearly 18% since November 30, around the time the world found out Assange might have catostrophic data about the bank.

    Yesterday when the Times of London reported that Assange’s bank-related leaks could cause resignations among top executives, Bank of America shares gained 2.85%.

    You would expect investors to be skittish over rumors of bad news. But here we see the opposite effect.

    What do these people know that we don’t?

    • Maybe they’re shorting?

    • All the bank stocks have been kicking ass since the Republicans took the House and the Fed’s kept pumping money. Regulatory promises are going by the wayside. Justice Dept is getting more active pursuing some cherry picked targets. BofA shares doing well suggests they may not be hiding much that hasn’t already come out. OTOH, it could also mean market is looking forward to seeing the current BofA leadership canned because of more scandal…but that’s a stretch imo.

  10. Just because I think you show a tendency towards gossip and tabloid journalism (including implying as true unproven smears and engaging in flippant character assassination) does NOT mean I think WikiLeaks is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Hell, I don’t even think sliced bread is all that great. You’ve manufactured a false equivalency to justify your position.

    I object to your continuing to bash those of us who are taking a more measured approach (which requires time, collecting data, and reflection) as fools. Or those of us who entertain the possibility that the release of any information about how the government operates behind closed doors has some value. Since when have I set myself up for your ridicule simply because I have a different perspective?

    I’m not a fan of browbeating. It is very ineffective as a strategy and shows weakness. (Look at how “strong” Obama appears as he lectures us “sanctimonious purists.”) I prefer rational discourse. (And, remember, I have defended you in the past.)

    I said it last night and I’ll say it again. I don’t like this at all. What the hell is going on? Am I no longer welcome here? Because that’s the message I’m getting.

    • I object to your continuing to bash those of us who are taking a more measured approach (which requires time, collecting data, and reflection) as fools.

      Strawman much? If you look through our archives you’ll see I waited quite a while before expressing ANY opinion on WikiLeaks and Assange. I was taking my time, collecting data and reflecting on it. My initial reaction to WikiLeaks and Assange was positive. Then I learned more.

      I haven’t called anyone a fool. But I’ve been called names, lots of them. Not just here at TC either.

      • Your whole post is derisive. Someone someplace got under your skin. This post is filled with defensiveness and anger. Now that YOU have seen the truth, I guess I needn’t worry my pretty little head any longer.

      • Yeah, you have. You pretty much have called people who disagree with you fools. You don’t use the word, but you use the invective talk around it.

        You drive people away with this insulting tone, just as RD drives people away with her bullying opinion that pharma should always be viewed as good . Many of us have good reason to feel differently about both of these things.

        But if your goal is to drive people away, then enjoy talking to the 10 people who remain with you. Eventually, that’s all you will have.

        • We’ve been doing it all wrong since the day we started.

        • Look Teresa, the web is a big place. People are allowed to have different opinions. If you want to believe every stupid thing that the class action industry puts out there on big pharmacy, I can’t stop you. But being that I see things from the inside, I think my opinion matters. I don’t control the business side of any industry but I know how hard researchers work to bring you cures for everything from cancer to schizophrenia. And over and over again, I see people on the left, my tribe, throw those medications back in our faces and say they’re not good enough or they’re not free enough.
          All I can say is believe what you want but don’t come crying to me when you’re sick and there’s nothing left to help you. Research costs money. We have mouths to feed too, dammit and I’m sick and tired of me Nd my colleagues being treated like some kind of evil geniuses by Democrats and some kind of drag on the bottom line by Republicans. Go take a flying leap and don’t let the door hit you.
          As for everyone else, the Klown stays until I tell him he can leave. Act like an adult when you come here and lose e fucking gender conditioning. This is not a feminist blog. It is a political blog with feminist posters. You are a person first, gender second.

        • Ok, here’s my reply to Teresa: I obviously see pharma from a different POV than you do. That means I have a special insight that you do not, wouldn’t you say that’s right Teresa? I never said all pharma is good. I am less than thrilled with the people in charge.
          But if you didn’t know that pharma pays the FDA to review its new drug entities since the 90s, you havent been paying attention. That public knowledge, not some deep dark secret. And the FDA does not approve an awful lot of stuff. In fact, the whole industry has suffered Since the mid 90s. If you don’t believe me, go check the industry sector at finance.yahoo.com. Be my guest. With the exception of a couple companies like J&J and Abbott, the whole industry has been lagging.
          But that’s ok. You just listen to every stupid, misleading thing the class action sector puts out. Btw, do you think plaintiffs actuall see the billions that were siphoned away from research by the ambulance chasers?
          No, but we’re all baby killers and evil geniuses. Let’s not look critically at the facts. Let’s just get mad because the cures for cancer and schizophrenia aren’t good enough or free enough. I’m sick and tired of seeing myself and my colleagues depicted ad cold hearted evil geniuses by Democrats and drags on the bottom line by the Republicans. Stick it where the sun don’t shine, Teresa. The web is a big place. If you want to read lies about the pharma industry so you can validate your predetermined viewpoint, go find another blog. But don’t whine when you can’t find a medication to cure what ails you. You make your bed, you lie in it. We’ll all be outsourced to India and you can go beg a raja with a zillion rom mansion for your drugs.
          Fuck off, teresa. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

        • RD has never said that everyone should view pharma as ALL good. She just points out that there are benefits, and argues her side of it.

          Why is it that you expressing your opinion about pharma (and being argued with) is fine, but someone like RD expressing a contrary opinion (and being argued with) is “bullying”?

          Is it only bullying when you’re pissed that the person refuses to agree with you?

          I just don’t get it. I honestly don’t get all these cries of “bullying” when someone is merely adamantly arguing their POV. It boggles my mind.

          • I’ll tell you why: it’s because wikileaks found some stuff on Pfizer that some bloggy types think is earthshaking revelations when it’s nothing of the sort. God knows, I’ve had my fill of Pfizer and I will remind Teresa, if she’s still has the ovaries to hang around, that the day after the 2010 midterm elections, I posted a piece in support of corporate whistleblowers like the one who turned in Glaxo Smith Kline.
            But I have to say that the report on Pfizer and the testing of their antibiotic trovan on Nigerian children during an outbreak of meningitis in 1995 when 12,000 people died sounds pretty hinky to me. According to what I have read, Trovan was not responsible for the disabilities of the children who were treated. The disabilities were a result of their meningitis. However, trovan is associated with liver damage, as are many drugs. Not everyone metabolizes the same drug the same way. Back in 1995, it wasn’t easy to tell who would be affected by this phenomenon but in the past 15 years, it has become easier.
            But of course, people who know NOTHING about the problem have been jumping on the “let’s bash Pfizer” bandwagon. Believe me, I would be like to be the first one in line for that show. But I don’t think Pfizer is guilty of what is being claimed. I suspect that the meningitis epidemic was getting out of control and that Nigerian agencies appealed to pharma for help, which they do in just about any catastrophe. And Pfizer offered them Trovan, which was being developed as a broad spectrum antibiotic for just this purpose. It just hadn’t been approved yet. The Nigerians were also administering another drug which had a slightly higher but statistically insignificant mortality rate than Trovan. I don’t know, if my kid was dying from meningitis and someone was offering me a new antibiotic that was similar to most other drugs in that class, I’d probably take it. Don’t we see crazy shit like this in the movies all the time? There’s some extremely fatal outbreak of disease and a team of heroic doctors and their romantic interests race for the cure, delivering it intravenously just as the heroine is expiring and by which she is restored to pink cheeked health?
            I’m pretty sure that’s not how it happened. It was probably more like, “I need antibiotic, NOW. I’ve got 500 critically ill kids and I’m running out of what I already have. Can you help?” and the Pfizer guy is like, “Well, we have this new stuff but we’re not done with the clinical trials” and the NGO is all like, “If it works, send it. I haven’t got time for the paperwork”
            Now, the way this is presented is that the stuff was so raw and untested that the company HAD to know it was dangerous. But that’s just stupid because they had plenty of it to send. And you don’t have plenty of it to send unless you have had it in production. And you don’t have it in production until you know that it is safe in some species of animal. So, my guess, and I don’t know all the details, is that the substance was ready for clinical trials to begin or had started clinical trials or something. There were clean, sterile packages of it on the shelf, ready to ship to Nigeria.
            But for sure, protocol wasn’t used and those kids may have been at risk. So, the Nigerians, who was the country who started the famous Nigerian email scam, sees an opportunity to suck money out of a pharma company. Well, why not? Everyone else is getting in on it. Why shouldn’t Nigeria? And Nigeria says to Pfizer, “Give us $4.3 billion dollars and we won’t make a PR disaster out of this. If you don’t, we’ll show the world all these kids who were disabled during the epidemic due to meningitis and make it look like your drug did it.”
            And what do *I* know about meningitis? Only that when my brother was in high school in the 80’s, his school district had a menigitis outbreak that killed several of his school mates and severely disabled several others. Some of them had to have limbs amputated. it was so bad and scary and so many kids were infected, including my brother, who tested positive for the bacteria but never became ill, that the school had to shut down for several weeks to isolate the carriers from the healthy population and treat everyone who had tested positive with tetracycline and other antibiotics.
            So, meningitis kills. But if anyone was injured from Trovan, it was probably through liver failure, not toxic shock.
            So, Pfizer realized that it had probably broken some international rules and wanted the problem to just go away and they negotiated with the Nigerians to bring the amount down to $75 million.
            And for this, collectively, the pharma industry is to blame for all that is wrong with medicines. Pharma is eeeeevil. And did you know that pharma pays the FDA to approve drugs, which they almost never do anymore. Pharma is paying the FDA because the FDA was anitquated. I’ve heard from software vendors that as late as 2003, the FDA had boxes of adverse drug reaction reports sitting in boxes, not being entered into a database because the FDA’s database was so unstructured that it couldn’t handle all of the data. The payments to the FDA from pharma was supposed to help pay to fix problems like that.
            But OK, if people don’t want the industry to pay the regulatory agency to do this job, fine. It seems pretty reasonable to me but what do I know. I’m only a consumer too and I want safe drugs.
            So, there you go. The word is out on lefty blogs that pharma is superbad beyond all recognition and dupes like Teresa eat it up because they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

          • I spent nearly one fifth of my life as a pest control technician. I stated in that field not that many years after DDT was taken off the market.

            Most people have no idea that DDT saved millions of lives from malaria and other insect-borne diseases. All they know is it killed some birds.

            Chlorinated hydrocarbons were replaced with organic phosphates like Malathion, Diazanon, and Dursban. They break down quicker in the environment so the danger of chronic poisoning is reduced.

            However they are much more acutely toxic.

            Anglachel had a post a while back about how hippie farming simply won’t work on a large scale. That is especially true if no pesticides are used.

    • mjames, I think you should keep commenting. Although I am quite skeptical of Assange (and I think Wikileaks is being played by the MOTU), I find your legal insights quite valuable and enlightening.
      I hope you & myiq can continue to talk about your views of the case.

    • I don’t know where you would get that message. You must be talking to dakinikat who makes a point of everyone agreeing and never raising their voices. It works so well for Congress.

      • What? I just checked back in. Is that comment to me, RD? Did you forget that I defended this site and Myiq before – from Dak? I’m a loner. I don’t collaborate with anyone.

        I’ll tell you where I’m getting that message – from Myiq. Loud and clear.

        Myiq has a bug up his $ss. He even admitted as much. And it’s annoying as hell. His tone is patronizing – and he misstates others’ positions so he can prove himself right to himself. He is not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination. So it’s real difficult to wade thru his diatribes.

        You think my comments have been ladylike? Polite? Maybe you should read them again. I’ve taken on someone I consider to be behaving like an idiot with a big ego.

        Assange himself is not the issue, he’s a diversion, yet Myiq cannot let it go. He’s downright obsessed with the man. Already we have a new post – and more defensiveness.

        I would never presume to tell you how to run your blog. I have a lot of respect for you. For Myiq I now have none.

        • When people post comments telling me how wonderful I am and how I’m a great writer I ignore them.

          I also ignore them when they tell me what a terrible person I am and how I’m a lousy writer.

          Sic transit gloria mundi

        • Geez, I don’t see what the beef is. He disagrees with you. He hasn’t attacked anyone or “bashed” you – just defended his POV, and postulated some suspicions. As you’ve defended yours. This isn’t a court of law, we are allowed to bring our gut reactions and suspicions into the argument if we want. It’s a conversation. There is no “inadmissible due to arcane rule #45” in a conversation.

          Good grief, if I thought everyone who argued with me was personally attacking me, I’d live a pretty miserable life. People disagree with each other on this board all the time. People disagree with me a LOT, and vociferously argue that I’m not seeing what they see. So? Argue on, dudes! What’s the problem with that?

          I like your arguments, even when I am not entirely buying them. But ya know what? People who are “not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination” (hmmm… just WHO is the one being “patronizing” here?) get to have opinions and arguments too. This is the real world, not an ivory tower. Sorry, but Bubba with the GED (not that myiq is that) gets to have his say, not just lawyers and the intelligentsia. Sorry if that pisses in your cheerios, but that’s the way the world works. And RD likes to keep this place real.

          • I don’t have a GED

          • LOL! I know – you have more education than that. But you get my point.

          • Real? Or subject to the Klown’s diatribes against Assange? Please. Real? At the price of intelligence? You don’t need a law degree to have intelligence, but you need the ability to think. Spare me the insults. An try rereading his post from an objective stance.

          • His arguments are the antithesis of intelligent. Sure he can have his say. He just can’t knock me and those who think like me in the process without blowback. Stop protecting the boy.

          • After you run out going boo hoo hoo you’re not allowed to come back and talk shit like a badass.

            You really don’t want to call someone the “antithesis of intelligent” after you lost the argument.

          • You’re wrong. Reread his post and his comments. It’s a diatribe. And he doesn’t get a free pass from me to hurl nasty barbs at those who disagree with him, especially when his so-called arguments have little merit. This is the real world, yes indeed, so he better toughen up and stop running to the females to protect him (which he has clearly done here).

            My guess is, after some reflection, his was a diatribe against the folks at Ian Welsh’s site who let him have it but good. He should have said so from the start.

            I defended him in the past. On this, no way. I am not part of some cabal out to get the poor little klown. He talks nonsense, I’ll call him on it.

          • I’ll call him on it.

            Ooooh, I’m skeered. Are you just gonna keep thumping your chest or did you want to compare dicks too?

            I’ll concede I’m hung like a hamster, so you can declare yourself the winner. Feel better now?

            BTW – If you want talk shit in the blogosphere, you should use more adjectives. Like “unhinged diatribe” and “inane nonsense” There’s bonus points for creativity too.

        • You don’t have to act like a lady for my behalf and certainly not myiq’s. We can both take raw language. But what would be nice if you actually had a reason to be offended in the first place. myiq is not referring to you in his post. He’s referring to the cultlike behavior of people who are sticking up for Assange without questioning him. Was that you? I didn’t think so but I may be wrong.
          You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. I haven’t seen myiq attack you or go out of his way to make you feel stupid. But it doesn’t surprise me that you feel that way. For some time now, there has been a very dedicated group of bloggers, usually female, whose mission in life seems to be to get myiq thrown off of this blog and any other blog in the lefty blogoverse. It ain’t going to happen and they should just give up. Myiq can post here until he doesn’t want to anymore.

          • I said nothing on the topic of myiq’s presence on this blog. But I am not a fan of radical feminism, esp. when practiced by a self-described klown and esp. when the lack of evidence is ignored. He is painting with too broad a brush and I won’t stand for it. If there are certain people he had in mind, he should be man – or woman – enough to name names. Stop protecting him. The implication was clear: if I did not stand with him, I was a fool. So sorry to disappoint. If someone calls me a name, he’s got a fight on his hands.

          • Stop protecting him.

            She just does that because she thinks I hit like a girl.

            I never called you a fool. But if the footwear is your size, feel free to walk around in it.

          • His general attack I took as an attack on me. With good reason. Reread the post. I disagree with everything he said – which he said with withering contempt. If he had specific individuals in mind, he should have been man – or woman – enough to name names. He painted with too broad a brush. I didn’t start this nonsense. I woke up to an all out assault on those of us who believe in due process of law. Perhaps he should accept responsibility for his treating those of us who disagree with disdain. At this point I don’t really care. I don’t know why you feel the need to defend the indefensible.

          • Seriously? I’ve read the post twice and I don’t have any idea which/what/why you think it has anything to do with you.

          • Sounds to me like a love hate thing.

          • If there are certain people he had in mind, he should be man – or woman – enough to name names.

            He’s never hesitated to name names. Ever. If he didn’t it’s because the names didn’t matter & weren’t the point of the post.

          • I’ve never seen so many Cinderella wannabes

            No, no! The shoe fits me, it fits ME!

  11. Voltairenet got a detail wrong and hung a lot of type on that inaccuracy. Assange did not release anything to the New York Whore Times, he released to four foreign papers and one of those released to NYWT.

    “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 worked together to plan the timing of their reports.”


    BTW: I don’t truck with Assange, he’s too egotistical to question the source of his treasure trove. I’m with Joe Cannon on this.

    • The NYT was one of original WikiLeaks media outlets. In October they wrote something negative about him and have since been cut-off.

      • sounds like he is a really open minded guy….my way or the highway!

      • I read that NYT now gets the leaks from Guardian. My AP friend thinks it’s a lot of fact checking for anything but a really huge paper with lots of resources. There may be enough to keep everyone busy. And he thinks it’s better to release it to the papers because you know who they are.

      • They were outlet for the Afghan documents, not the State Dept docs.

        Yeah, he’s an egotistical pissant, and we’re spending hours and hours talking about his penis – instead of talking about who leaked the docs. It certainly wasn’t Manning, he didn’t have access to those types of docs at his post in Afghanistan.

        So, where did the docs come from and why?

        I’m leaning to the censor the internet theory.

  12. Hot Air (wingnut warning):

    Another decidedly non-funny outcome is the reinforcement of the CIA’s reluctance to share data with the military and the State Department. Supposedly, all of these intel agencies share data through the National Intelligence Center (NIC) under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The massive leak from Siprnet has, according to the Post, steeled the CIA in its resolve to work more independently, where they can secure their critical data from widespread dissemination. In fact, the CIA has resisted the integration into the NIC, which is the reason their data hasn’t ended up on the pages of the Guardian. That lack of integration will lead to more missed leads and opportunities to capture terrorists before they strike rather than clean up after they manage to kill a lot of people.

    That may be news to Americans, who presumed that the reforms passed by Congress in 2004 to establish the NIC had already been implemented — but it also may explain a few things about how the Christmas Bomber managed to elude American security protocols and board that flight a year ago. WTF appears to be the word of the day.

    • it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that there will be also less off-the-record conversations among diplomats….not sure how this is going to help world peace if nobody speaks to each other!

  13. While I had breakfast, you moved quite along way on!!

    Firstly, it is not clear who leaked the Assange file to the press. It does not need to be the prosecutor, given what we have learned about hacking, it could be anybody.

    Secondly, the Guardian decided to publish the info as they found the attacks from Assange and his defense team against the women unprecedented and felt it was important the info was in the public domain.

  14. Wikileads is just a power trip of Mr Assange, playing Robin Hood. Interesting read is his interview w BBC4


    Dumping lots of gossip and trivia which nobody can prove or check, might sound appealing at first, but it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Michael Moore is supporting it that should be already a red flag, right?

    Who is checking the source and who can say what is critical. Surely not an editor of the Guardian who lives in leafy suburbia – is he going to decide what is critical, sensitive info abt AfgPak?

    Mr. Assange should get his ego over to Sweden and allow being interviewed by the authorities, instead of saying:

    “My work is serious. I do not have to run off to random states simply because some prosecutor is abusing a process in those states”

    He wants to change the world, as he says, but that does not mean he is above the law.

    • Rachel makes a really good point about 1:15 into the clip that “leaking” something makes it seem both true and important.

      • I agree – who knows if all this stuff is really true? I guess no time for good old fashioned investigative journalism.

        Interesting is also that Moore is posting part of the bail while he is very much for getting to the bottom of the rape charges. Why does he just not tell JA to go to Sweden and let himself being interviewed? The only reason he was arrested in the UK was because he refuses to go to Sweden to talk to the authorities.

        • Oh, good grief. We see the actual cables and someone asserts they aren’t true. I wasted hours assuring someone that the Downing Street memo was, indeed, a memo authored in Downing Street. But no, like Thomas she wanted to poke her fingers at it – a mere admission by Downing Street that it was authentic was not enough. When debate descends to this level it is best to give it up. The US government has won again and will continue to get away with its atrocities and crimes against humanity while maintaining its pretense that it is noble and elevated.

          • Have you personally verified the authenticity of everything WikiLeaks has released?

            Because Maddow was referring to something that was leaked that wasn’t true.

  15. “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.”
    Blockquote of your blockquote?
    Anyway, is that where the “leaves of Aspen are turning” comes from in the message from Scooter Libby to Judith Miller after the CIA leak that identified Valerie Plame? Damn, the spooks scarin’ me shitless. Even with the Start Treaty, it just takes 1 bomb and we’ll be brought to our knees. Its just a matter of time before they do it to prove the terrorists are real and probably walkin around at the Walmart right now.

  16. Like 9.11 led to the Patriot Act and other oppressive measures, I felt from the start Wikileaks will screw up the internet for us.
    But just as I couldn’t buy that W ordered 9.11 – much as clearly used it to advance his agenda, I don’t buy that Assange is a patsy for the CIA. A useful idiot perhaps, but not a plant. IMHO.

  17. So, anyone think reporting Oh yea oops Leaking about the 15,000 deaths of Iraqi civilians that were counted but not reported to the US people is important or should we just get back to Assange’s case?

    • Agreed. Matter of priority.
      But gossip always wins over more boring information, especially the kind that contains big numbers.

    • Oh, you were shocked to learn that the government has been lying to us about how many Iraqis we have killed since we invaded?

      Seriously, did you not know this?

      “Truth is the first casualty of war.”

      Truth went down before we ever invaded. But it’s still out there.

      If the media outlets for WikiLeaks were doing their job, what secrets would WikiLeaks have left to reveal?

      Ask WikiLeaks where the anti-war movement went.

      • If pigs had wings, they would fly. What part of the truth coming out pisses you off so bad?

        Assange is an ass and the leaked information is largely valuable. The media’s interpretation can probably be discounted, along with disgruntled klowns.

        Make up your own minds. Why bother with someone else’s opinion when it’s not important,

        • Yeah, that’s it – I’m angry that the truth is coming out.

          Truth we already knew.

          Why are you angry?

          • What I didn’t know before wikileaks:

            1. The Obama administration joined GOP to stop the prosecution of war crimes against Bush administration people in Spain.

            2. • The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer paid investigators to unearth corruption links to Nigeria’s attorney general in an attempt to persuade him to stop his legal action against a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis.

            3. Germany accuses US over ‘missing’ Afghan funds, WikiLeaks cables show. It appears that there’s corruption in the U.S. military. Surprise.

            4. Bangladeshi ‘death squad’ trained by UK government

            Those leaks would have been major if it they had been by themselves, but because of the huge number of cables, they tend to get lost. I want to also make the point that what is clear from the cables is the incest between U.S. government and big business. Not that we didn’t know it was going on, but clearly there’s no separation between the two.

          • Thanks for pointing this out Dario…

          • I respectfully disagree. Stories 1-3 were out on the net prior to the leaks.

            And the 4th story falls under….name a country the UK or the US hasn’t trained. So there is no surprise there either.

            At worst for the US, there is what’s called a ‘limited hangout’ with the information. There is still no there….there in terms of real damage or new revelations against the establishment and only seems to bolster their claims against Iran. Not exactly a huge win for truth and justice when Wikileaks essentially proves the war machine’s case for them.

      • Ask WikiLeaks where the anti-war movement went.

        NOW, this point you make here is scary, I have wondered why there is a Silence too.

    • I’ve assumed the total casualty figure to be well over 100,000, large portion of which resulted from the infighting. A horrible number, but not necessarily a revelation. This is from the Guardian in 2008. This is from the NYTimes this year with wikileaks. I don’t see a difference.

  18. The CIA created a special group to look into this, the Wikileaks Task Force, WTF. You can’t make this shit up.

  19. Hey, I’m pissed because I got pulled over, not by one but two police cars. Why? Because the “HITCH” ball on my SUV was covering part of the license plate. It’s not just that, it’s put hands on the steering wheel, do not move your hands!

    I was treated like a fugging terroist, because of a fugging ball that has been there since 1997, and ticketed for it.

    I’m pissed.

    • I just recently learned that I’m an authoritarian so I guess I’m supposed to say you deserved it.

      • Do you have a problem being an authoritarian? I think democracy is overrated.

      • Think about it this way. All those people who prefer to follow (most people fall in that category) look up to you. The only ones who don’t like authoritarian types, are other authoritarians who would like to make you a follower.

        • What a simple view. I like watching black and white movies sometimes too. Just not in real life.

  20. Now I am confused. The “leaks” were cables. They were not investigative journalism in itself. They were never intended to be “all true” or “all false”.
    It was Assange who believes that his sexual encounters were consensual. Therefore “like the leaked cables” one can believe Assange did indeed engage in consensual sex and some mastermind of international governmental conspirators forced these women to claim rape. Because women are just so gullible that way and always cry rape for someone else’s convenience.

    As for pharma. There is plenty of good and bad there. If there are problems, you will usually find the bean counters behind it. not the scientist who is actually trying to develop a better medication to treat our ills. I am sure that there wasn’t the research scientist who said that we could falsely market seroquel as a sleeping aid to medical doctors and make even more money.

    • I am sure that there wasn’t the research scientist who said that we could falsely market seroquel as a sleeping aid to medical doctors and make even more money.

      Of course not. It was the pencil pusher, bean counters, who threatened with a pencil all those men wearing the white coats to do all those tests with unsuspecting subjects in undeveloped nations.

      A scientist would never do that.

      • Ooh. Do you have a link.

        • The Pfizer one?
          As doctors fought to save lives, Pfizer flew in drug trial team
          Africa’s meningitis belt is used to tragedy. Annual epidemics sweep across the continent in the dry season, stopping abruptly when the rains come. In a normal year, maybe 5,000 die, mostly children and young people. But in 1996, the worst-ever African meningitis epidemic hit Nigeria’s northern states. Doctors struggling to bring it under control over a period of three months recorded more than 109,000 cases of meningococcal (cerebrospinal) meningitis and 11,717 deaths.

          Kano’s infectious diseases hospital, a small collection of concrete buildings inside a sandy compound, was overwhelmed, even after teams from Médecins sans Frontières arrived. They were dealing with not one but three epidemics – measles and cholera had broken out as well. Children were being seen and treated in overcrowded halls and corridors. It was chaos.

          And then a chartered DC-9 flew in from the US. On board were doctors from Pfizer, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, and better medical equipment than the African town had ever seen. They had come to conduct a trial of an oral antibiotic called Trovan, which they wanted to test in children with meningitis against the “gold-standard” treatment of the western world, ceftriaxone. They took over part of the hospital and dosed 200 children, half with Trovan and half with ceftriaxone. And then they left, leaving behind some surplus drugs and equipment for the hospital.

          • In the event, Pfizer saved 189 lives of the 200 children treated. Five died on Trovan and six on ceftriaxone. That was a death rate of 6%, which was significantly better than the 20% in some places where the epidemic was raging. In their terms, the trial was a success.

            They should have stayed away.

          • But the drug is not to be found in African pharmacies. It was trialled on African children, but never intended for Africa. Pfizer aimed to sell it in the USA and Europe – and yet its licence was withdrawn in Europe because of concern over liver toxicity. It is not licensed anywhere for children.

            I think you miss the point. It’s unethical to use humans as guinea pigs without their consent. Besides, other drugs were available which were fully tested. The drug wasn’t safe, even if it happened to help most of the kids who were sick. There’s another story that kids who didn’t die were permanently damaged by the Pfizer drug, whereas the other safe drugs did not harm the survivors.

          • Eleven children died, and others suffered disabling injuries including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech. We speak to Washington Post reporter Joe Stephens, who helped break the story in 2000, and Musikilu Mojeed, a Nigerian journalist who has worked on this story for the NEXT newspaper in Lagos.

            Democracy now

          • See my LOOOONG comment above about what I think might have happened with Trovan. BTW, the disabilities they are describing sound like the result of meningitis, not liver toxicity. Undoubtably, the Nigerians know this but most average people in developed countries do not because they never have to deal with a meningitis epidemic as large as Nigeria’s in 1996.

      • We would never recommend stuff like that. We just idly speculate in dream mode amongst ourselves what can be done with unexpected side effects. Like the compound that was made for schizophrenics but turned out to give monkeys priapism. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a penis.

        Um, no, we’re not involved in marketing or sales. Our job is to find the target, make the drugs and test them. That’s it. We’re all biology, all the time. Marketing? Blechhh!

        • Are you telling me that not even once in the lab, after thinking up something truly outlandish, you didn’t put your pinky up to your mouth and laugh maniacally? Mwahahahaha. 🙂

          • More like “It’s alive!”

          • No, but my colleagues and I do think along the lines of Agatha Christie and contemplate Rube Goldberg ways to off people we don’t like using the tools at hand. Not that we would do any of them, like disabling the oxygen sensor in the cold room and hiding an open dewar of liquid nitrogen in a cabinet and then luring someone we despise into the cold room as we slam the door and lock it while wearing purple nitrile gloves.
            It’s just a fantasy. The image of that person trapped in the cold room turning blue from cold and lack of oxygen keeps us sane. We would never actually do something like that.

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