What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks


10:10 am - December 30th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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It is somewhat staggering that enough isn’t said about the implications of this ongoing war against WikiLeaks. There is something seriously wrong going on here.

I generally try and avoid conspiracy theories. I broadly believe in the importance of rule of law. I believe in open societies where there is a healthy degree of competition for private goods. I believe governments should also abide by the law and enforce it.

But the system really is conspiring against WikiLeaks.

Since Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have all blocked payments, it has become virtually impossible to send WikiLeaks any money. Visa and Mastercard even threatened smaller companies that dared to ignore them. Then, a Swiss bank, from a country loath to even turn away dictators or mass-murderers, terminated his account too.

The ramifications of all this are deeply worrying and it’s outrageous more people aren’t saying it.

Why is the US government pursuing WikiLeaks even though the cables themselves have done very little to harm US interests? Why is there more political focus right now on catching him than Osama Bin Laden?

Of course, they’re concerned about what WikiLeaks represents – an untraceable whistleblower they can’t negotiate with, or file an injunction against to stop publishing. Governments hate openness and transparency – which is why we should remain sceptical of governments possessing too much information about us.

But it is the behaviour of corporations that is more worrying. In effect, the whole financial has been closed for WikiLeaks. There’s no legal recourse either, nor any competition it can resort to. They terminated relations because they hate openness and transparency into their dealings even more than governments.

They’re not worried about WikiLeaks secrets that would undermine their competitiveness (computer programs, or algorithms) – they have legal recourse to deal with that. I suspect this is about the worry that WikiLeaks will expose how deeply incestuous and overly-powerful the financial industry has become.

To their immense credit, the New York Times finally commented on this last week.

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.

Our lives are now dependent on this financial system, as individuals, companies or organisations. But they can choke us off when they want, though administrative error, for political reasons, or simply because they can. There is little recourse if they do, except perhaps persevering while your life is being ruined.

To my mind, this is the single biggest issue in the ongoing saga. The idea of WikiLeaks represents a threat to powerful oligopolies and monopolies as much as it does to governments. That is also the main reason why the idea of WikiLeaks, and the entity itself, deserves support and protection.

Related
Luke Denne: WikiLeaks – in defence

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


We can’t be in the middle on this one. We either condone or condemn WikiLeaks for their activities. Western Governments have no choice but to condemn in the interests of national security. Anyone who disagrees with this point is welcome to leave these shores.

But it is the behaviour of corporations that is more worrying.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Well said Sunny.

Yes there is a pattern in all this.

Perhaps you will now concede it is conceivable that the abuse of the Swedish legal system is also a part of the same pattern?

@ Ted

Anyone who disagrees with this point is welcome to leave these shores.

Or alternatively we could support freedom of speech.

Sunny welcome to the real world this is exactly how it is.

Similar to when my friends in Peru were massacred (Bagua) and the British government happily strengthened trade ties with the country.

If it bleeds and profits/power are protected the powers that be will work to keep it bleeding.

We must defend wikileaks and its still possible to send them cash via Iceland, one gain of having a green left government on the edge of Europe has been support for internet freedom.

So cut the crap and send wikileaks some cash (I have) http://213.251.145.96/Support.html

5. Mike Killingworth

Good call, Sunny. IIRC there was a Jack London story in which the government and finance houses conspired to close down the bank accounts – and call in the mortgages – of all the “socialists” in America. A hundred years on, and nothing has changed.

Now, shall we have a New Year comp on which Labour MP will be the first one to agree with you? What – don’t hold your breath?

@ 3. pagar

Freedom of speech comes with the responsibility not to endanger others. Perhaps we need to bring back our old Treason Laws ?

Freedom of speech comes with the responsibility not to endanger others.

I agree in principle.

But what about the civilians who are endangered when they are shot at by helicopter gunships?

It’s not information that puts us at risk, it’s the actions of governments and corporations.

“Our lives are now dependent on this financial system, as individuals, companies or organisations. But they can choke us off when they want, though administrative error, for political reasons, or simply because they can.”

Which is rather why we absolutely want to retain cash as a medium of exchange. Sure, it would be easier to collect tax if everything had to be an electronic payment. But insisting upon such electronic payments does leave us at the mercy of those who control that system.

Which is why cash must survive: anonymous, untraceable and yes, peop[le will use it to avoid tax and deal in illegal things. But better that than the alternative, eh?

Freedom of speech comes with the responsibility not to endanger others.

Well, we’d better shut down Parliament then – they’ve endangered a heck of a lot of people.

Sunny,

I think you’ve made the mistake of conflating Assange with WikiLeaks here.

@ 7. pagar

Oh ….it’s a sort of tit-for-tat is it ?

Western military personnel make genuine mistakes so this traitor deliberately puts millions in danger through the release of sensitive information !

Are you a responsible adult who fully understands the implications of what you’re saying ?

12. Luis Enrique

I’m not sure I understand – are you saying PayPal, Mastercard etc. feel threatened by wikileaks? Why? Does every financial organisation have such terrible skeletons in cupboards they are terrified of having leaked? Or are they just acting out of solidarity with BoA?

Another possibility is that these financial companies are yielding to pressure from the US government, not out of self-interest

Freedom? Democracy? These can only be achieved through the financial institutions and the cowardly governments that do their bidding…or at least this is what they’d have us believe. But this just goes to show how powerful the banks are; they transcend national boundaries and will use their influence (in the form of money) to bribe people, corrupt processes and stifle discourse and dissent.

It’s time to occupy the banks.

@11

Ted is Bill O’Reilly AICMFP.

From sky news about the drone attacks…..

“This has led to a wave of anti Americanism in Pakistan, acted as a recruiting tool for the Taliban, and killed hundreds of innocent men women and children.”

And this will make more terrorists that will hate America and the UK, but in there eyes a freedom fighter depending what side of the fence you are.

Also its only in a very small part that wikiLeaks have shown a attack helicopter shooting at innocent people, also a documentary called “secret Iraq” that has shown many interesting things that the government do not want people to know and its thanks to the leaks in part that we know why we are under attack from freedom fighters or as the west like to call it “terrorists”

@ 9. Dunc

You’re confusing a vague indefinable parliamentary principle with a specific and quantifiable issue of offensive and dangerous behaviour.

@ 14. Tim Fenton

Don’t understand ?

@ Ted

this traitor deliberately puts millions in danger through the release of sensitive information !

Think I’ll need a link for that.

And not the one where he reveals Faslane hosts nuclear submarines and is near Helensburgh.

Name the ONLY country that has killed the most amount of people in the world…. Are you thinking America ?

You’re confusing a vague indefinable parliamentary principle with a specific and quantifiable issue of offensive and dangerous behaviour.

Then please specify and quantify precisely who has been endangered and how. I’m simply not buying the idea that a violation of secrecy in general somehow magically endangers “millions” of people, so you’ll have to be a bit more specific and perhaps provide some evidence.

I’m happy to specify and quantify who has been endangered by the actions of Parliament – we could start with all the service members killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I generally try and avoid conspiracy theories…But the system really is conspiring against WikiLeaks…

Because the system does conspire.

I broadly believe in the importance of rule of law.

The state doesn’t.

Thanks, Sunny. Heartily agree. As a feminist, I am especially appalled by the success of the strategy which has sought to smear Assange as a rapist. Hearing self avowed feminists and leftists array themselves alongside the corporate elite not just in terms of the Swedish charges (which they treat as proven) but in terms of the “assault” on governments’ “right” to secrecy as well is very depressing. When they overbalance into contorted arguments that Assange is really part of the corporate conspiracy himself, you know the war is in danger of being lost.

I think you’ve made the mistake of conflating Assange with WikiLeaks here.

Eh? What I liked about this piece is that it doesn’t even mention the guy.

#23

“a Swiss bank, from a country loath to even turn away dictators or mass-murderers, terminated his account too”

“Why is there more political focus right now on catching him than Osama Bin Laden?”

I think the word “him” refers to Assange without specifically naming him. The article would be much stronger without referring to him even implicitly. BUT, in Sunny’s defence, just because Assange might be guilty doesn’t mean they’re not out to get him.

This is a good article. But to me it comes across as somewhat naive…

“There is something seriously wrong going on here. … the system really is conspiring against WikiLeaks.”

You don’t say?

Of course you’re absolutely right to pick up on these issues, but whilst I support the WikiLeaks mission (if one can call it that), it’s not exactly the first victim of misdirected corporate or state power – and it won’t be the last.

“I broadly believe in the importance of rule of law. I believe in open societies where there is a healthy degree of competition for private goods. I believe governments should also abide by the law and enforce it.”

Great – good for you. But no-one in charge believes these things.

>They terminated relations because they hate openness and transparency into their dealings even more than governments.

I haven’t seen any indication that this is the companies themselves rather than the US government casting around for ways of damaging a legal organisation.

I think that Paypal et al are just intimidated; Govts and especially the US Gov can conjure up any number of spurious ways of damaging any company they target – look at what they did to Party Gaming et al or BP.

Sunny ” I generally try and avoid conspiracy theories”

Well that is your problem Sunny. You will not face up to the reality of the world elites, and the military industrial complex, which owns most of the corporate media, and runs the world for their benefit. You naively think we live in a western democracy. We do not. The world is run by the rich for the rich with the illusion of democracy.

Once you except that , everything fits into place.

Orthographical note: WikiLeaks is an “it”, not a “him”, Sunny.

And as for the system conspiring against it (as opposed to him), I think it probably is; but as in all cases of “the system” doing anything, we’re probably looking at a distributed, emergent, immune-like response of various agents to perceived pressures or threats, rather than a conspiracy of the smoky back room variety. By which I mean to say, I agree with you, but I’m not sure what if anything to do about it right now.

Thanks, Sunny. This is very important. I’m saddened that so little has appeared abouth this in the more traditional media, because as you rightly said before, Wikileaks is a media organisation under attack for doing its job.

The bahaviour of our freedom-loving governments amply exposes the state of our democracies. The ease with which businesses connive with these governments shows how closely they are involved. It’s pretty scary really, but I’m glad it’s in the open now.

@Ted
I would be happy to leave now since I do not agree with the “War is ugly, so War crimes become necessary” idea.
But from the ability to a law making countries (usually Western Governments) to go illegally into war against another country and get away with it … it’s obvious that we are doom to be next.
Will you respect my new found territory and its frontier!

Wikileaks is answering NO to that.
So having an opinion that is different to yours, even from your great “shores”, is sign of an healthy but itchy democracy at work.
Not yet a facist shore, I am afraid.
I am condemning your methods and politics (also called Propaganda and Crimes), I don’t even need to agree with Wikileaks and condemn it too.

“I generally try and avoid conspiracy theories.”

To mis-quote, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to exist, unfortunately….

“I broadly believe in the importance of rule of law.. I believe governments should also abide by the law and enforce it.”

Oh I wish. But whenever I speak words like this, I am accused of being a dangerous leftie. why?

“But the system really is conspiring against WikiLeaks.”

Due to our more open information system that enables Wikileaks to inform us, surely we are now learning what many of us have suspected for years? That ‘They’ have kept many things from ‘Us’ for hundreds of years. Just go back to the last century and look now at what more we know about the abdication of King Edward VIII than the general British Public of the time – just a small example.

Another possibility is that these financial companies are yielding to pressure from the US government, not out of self-interest

Is certainly true (well, apart from the fact that “adhering to soft pressure from the US government” is self-interest). But doesn’t invalidate Sunny’s post.

@5. Mike Killingworth
“IIRC there was a Jack London story in which the government and finance houses conspired to close down the bank accounts – and call in the mortgages – of all the “socialists” in America. A hundred years on, and nothing has changed.”

Good reference, Mike. This whole Wikileaks ‘affair’ to me has echoes of ‘1984’ and I am daily waiting to turn on my PC and find that threads on twitter etc have been changed.

I am listening at the moment to a Radio 4 prog about the release of archives about the Conservative Government of 1980. If one doesn’t remember ‘facts’ as they have been ‘recorded’ on paper, is that the fault of one’s memory or the recording…..

Well said Sunny.

Our lives are now dependent on this financial system, as individuals, companies or organisations. But they can choke us off when they want, though administrative error, for political reasons, or simply because they can. There is little recourse if they do, except perhaps persevering while your life is being ruined.

(Are you still convinced that opting out of capitalism is an option? 😉

Communism broadly works only if everyone believes in it. On the other hand capitalism doesn’t need that. You can opt in or you can opt out.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/12/11/some-thoughts-on-left-unity-and-disagreement/#comment-212051 )

There’s a very good piece in the Atlantic on what else the Wikileaks reaction exposes: that our lives are also increasingly dependent on the internet over which certain corporations have terrifying control.

the main lessons of the Wikileaks affair: the increasing control of (relatively) unaccountable corporations and states over the key components of the Internet, and their increased willingness to use this control in politicized ways to impose a “dissent tax” on content they find objectionable. Ability to disseminate one’s ideas on the Internet is now a sine qua non of inclusion in the global public sphere. However, the Internet is not a true public sphere; it is a public sphere erected on private property, what I have dubbed a “quasi-public sphere,” where the property owners can sideline and constrain dissent.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/12/wikileaks-exposes-internets-dissent-tax-not-nerd-supremacy/68397/

The article is worth reading in full.

The American financial system is basically a group of criminal organisations conspiring against the people. The mass fraud that has involved American banks from just walking into peoples houses and stealing them by foreclosing on them is nothing less than theft. Many of these people have never missed a mortgage payment, yet their house is stolen from under their noses by a corrupt legal system.

You try walking into someone’s house and stealing it. You will quickly find your self in court, and then jail. Not if you are a bank. The rumours are that wikileeks has proof of a major American bank committing treason. The elites do not want the little people to see the reality, so they are closing down the messenger. But of course the treasonous bankers will not be pursued with the same vigour. Oh no, just more bail outs and corporate welfare.

This really is the modern day Versailles. The elites and their arrogance want the people to eat cake.

Sunny wrote: ‘Our lives are now dependent on this financial system, as individuals, companies or organisations. But they can choke us off when they want, though administrative error, for political reasons, or simply because they can. There is little recourse if they do, except perhaps persevering while your life is being ruined.’

I think we can a little further than this. What the reaction of these financial institutions shows us is that the Internet, so often proclaimed by many as a vehicle for freedom and anti-authority activity, is completely at the mercy of governments and big business, which will obstruct or shut down websites by one means or another should they broadcast things they don’t like. The democracy and freedom that the Internet is supposed by some liberals to represent only exists at the mercy of those who actually manage the underlying system: big businesses and governments. Indeed, it is no less vulnerable to censorship than the printed word.

The Internet can be a weapon for social justice and political freedom, but once a website crosses a certain point, websites will get blocked and hacked, financial paths will be blocked, and, of course, to add to that, governments can also revert to old-fashioned methods of harassment such as the convenient charges against Assange.

Finally, did Paypal, etc, block finance to Wikileaks off their own bat, or did they meekly agree to governmental demands? One way or the other, they don’t look good.

Re Point 1: Who decides what ‘national security’ is? What if a government does something morally unacceptable to many people in the name of ‘national security’; is it treasonous openly to criticise it?

‘Wikileaks’ is just a name. The majority of information that Wikileaks gains is by what many would call ‘cyber-terrorism’, and the ‘terrorists’ who gain this information are just as able as those who protect it, if not better. The point is, any organisation with the same capabilities and motivation of Wikileaks can do the same thing, and any attempt to destroy Wikileaks through financial sanction or criminal conviction could be compared to cutting off the head of a hydra. I wonder what the response would be from evangelical computer hacker communities if they witnessed the complete destruction of Wikileaks? Did someone say e-martyr?

They terminated relations because they hate openness and transparency into their dealings even more than governments. theories.

That’s probably part of it, but I suspect the main reason was that the US government pressured them to do so.

(Of course, it could be argued that the USA is basically an oligarchy run by and for the corporations, so the corporations effectively are the government. There’s some truth in that: consider how the ACTA negotiations continued seemlessly when Obama took over the presidency from Bush. This happened because the USA’s position was determined by the corporations behind the scenes, not by the politicians who were the front men.)

@1 Ted: We can’t be in the middle on this one. We either condone or condemn WikiLeaks for their activities.

I agree. We must either support the principle of freedom of speech, or sit back and watch as the West turns itself into a repressive oligarchy like China.

Western Governments have no choice but to condemn in the interests of national security.

You’ve got it exactly wrong. While Wikileaks is the short term embarrasses the US government, in the long term its existance helps the West.

At the moment the West has two potential enemies. In the short term there’s the threat from Islamic extremism, and there’s also a longer-term (and potential vastly more dangerous) threat from China. In a world that has free and open interchange of information, who is most harmed by that? The (mostly) free societies of the West, or mosre closed societies such as China or Iran, who would have to chose between allowing openness (and destabilising their politcal system) or shutting down the net (and harming their economies).

Furthermore, the fight against Islamism and the Chinese government is mostly going to be won, not with weapons, but by winning over people hearts and minds. How can the West do this? By putting our best side forward — the one that’s about freedom, human rights, and democracy. We won’t win by being repressive.

When Hillary Clinton lectures the Chinese about openness, and then tries to shut down Wikileaks, what’s the man on the Beijing omnibus going to think? Obviously that the West is run by a bunch of hypocrites who don’t really care about human rights, but just want to use it as a stick to beat China with. It is obvious to me that this is not a successful propaganda strategy. Instead, the west needs to use the fact that throughout the world, people generally prefer freedom to repression.

Anyone who disagrees with this point is welcome to leave these shores.

I personally would welcome it if all the people who prefer repression over freedom of speech went to live in North Korea.

Yes Ted we really need to condone Wikileaks for bringing light where there was darkness and truth where there is deceit. As it is clear that you are an enemy of all the values we hold dear such as justice, liberty, freedom of speech, transparency etc I think you should leave these shores, I am sure North Korea would welcome you (just ask Sarah Palin for directions).

Paypal et al were clearly lent on…Wall St is still on call to do Washington’s bidding…especially after being on the receiving end of very generous bailout terms. I can remember there being a link somewhere for people who want to make a donation by direct bank to bank transfer, so there is a work around available but once again its all grit in the engine to slow things down.

I cant wait to see the bank leaks!

Perhaps WikiLeaks has had it’s day. The general theme will go on though, with others doing the same thing.

This is an interesting programme about the internal workings of WikiLeaks and other organisations being set up to do the same or similar things http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wqfng/The_Report_23_12_2010/

That’s it then. Under your rules of “free speech” we can all say, write, publish what you like, when we like and to whom we choose.

On a closing note, some may have noticed this topic is above politics and religion, all our institutions appear to agree that this company’s activities must be curtailed in the national interest. Yes I know, oppression by the big corporates etc…etc…etc… Who is really out of touch ?

@45 You, obviously.

“Governments hate openness and transparency…”

Not always for bad reasons. Let’s imagine Wikileaks c. the mid-nineties. Think of the damage a couple of indiscreet comments on Northern Ireland could have done to the peace process.

“I personally would welcome it if all the people who prefer repression over freedom of speech went to live in North Korea.”

Assuming you should mention North Korea. About the only thing the Wikileak’s cables actually achieved was to undermine the efforts of some in the Chinese leadership to distance themselves from the North Korean leadership. Nice one.

@47 Martin: Let’s imagine Wikileaks c. the mid-nineties. Think of the damage a couple of indiscreet comments on Northern Ireland could have done to the peace process.

It’s very easy to imagine scenarios where freedom of information causes bad consequences. My contention is not that everything Wikileaks does or has done is good, but that the existance of Wikileaks and organisations like it overall does more good than bad, and overall helps the cause of freedom.

About the only thing the Wikileak’s cables actually achieved was to undermine the efforts of some in the Chinese leadership to distance themselves from the North Korean leadership.

Nonsense. If China distances itself from NK, it’ll be because the underlying geopolitical reality makes it in China’s interest to do so. Wikileaks is largely irrelevant. And I’m sure it’s not a secret among China’s leaders that many of them regard NK with disdain.

@Ted

The state is not the same as the nation. What the government wants is not the same as ‘acting in the national interest’. Until you understand this, you’re basically unqualified to comment here on anything.

So get out.

This from ABC chat show with Condoleezza Rice’s ‘View’ of WikiLeaks. Interesting to hear this and indicates clearly what the US would like to see happen to Assange and WikiLeaks. Also interesting to hear the comments from such “Liberals” as Whoopi Goldberg.

http://abcnews.go.com/entertainment/…aylist=3236090

Jullian Assange in an interview with David Frost, stating, amongst other things, that pressure is being brought to bear on Bradley Manning ‘to coerce him into testifying against Assange himself and WikiLeaks’.

http://english.aljazeera.net/program…384924314.html

Never forget when you hear America bleating on about national security, and protecting secrets, that Dick Cheney leaked the identity of the CIA agent Valerie Palme when she dared to suggest there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He blew her cover for political pay back, and burned all her contacts all over the world.

The biggest leakers are govts. When you hear the MSM talking about access to power, what they really mean is being the propaganda arm of the govt. Govts are constantly leaking for their own advantage.

There’s no doubt that the actions of the banks are not isolated from each other – the only question is whether the banks themselves are driving this, or whether the US Government are holding their feet to the fire. I suppose it could be a combination – a nod and a wink from the US that they wouldn’t be too concerned if Wikileaks was cut off.

Didn’t the same thing happen to the BNP a few years back – banks refusing to deal with them ?

And didn’t Sunny write an approving post about how banks were increasingly loth to deal with those perceived as polluters ?

“But the policy shift by Wells Fargo follows others over the last two years, including moves by Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank, to increase scrutiny of lending to companies involved in mountaintop removal — or to end the lending altogether.

HSBC, which is based in London, has curtailed its relationships with some producers of palm oil, which is often linked to deforestation in developing countries.”

Maybe some ‘pressure group’ has put pressure on the banks !

sally @ 36:

“The American financial system is basically a group of criminal organisations conspiring against the people”.

By “the people”, sally presumably means that same aggregate of human beings which she often refers to, with appropriate lefty contempt, as “the sheeple”. It’s hard being a sally, isn’t it, having to pay lip service to two contradictory concepts at the same time – the people (good, noble, deserving of respect) v the sheeple (incapable of independent thought, shite, crap, beneath contempt).

Reading between the lines and that is all anyone is doing the US probably did apply soft pressure on financial institutions to restrict WikiLeaks. Even soft pressure from the USG is considerable clout and not many can make a stand against them. They use their power because they can not because they are evil. It is the privilege of being the biggest economic bully. They invariably do not see it as acting like a bully. Ingrained in the US psyche is what is good for the US is good for the world. The depressing thing is in an interconnected electronic world there is not much anyone can do about it. Try and imagine living for one month totally disconnected from the financial system and you can see how easy it is to cut off organisations like WikiLeaks. Fortunately the internet has a habit of creating more as one is ostracised.

I doubt the US govt had to use even soft pressure on the banks to pull the plug. The banks don’t want their secrets coming out either. Corporate America does not want it shown to the public that they don’t give a shit about the American people.

You mean American “sheeple” sally.

The idea that this is the only course of action for a western government is absurd.
That follows the too big to fail and the it’s not the banks it the poor people who created the financial meltdown. We have no reason to shutdown WikiLeaks if they did not break the law
If they did, then prosecute through the legal system we are committed defend.

As to the original article about a conspiracy, I believe there is no formal conspiracy but is there common intent and agenda , resulting in common action , yeah I believe there is

To be fair, I’d argue that what Wikileaks has done is anti-American and without due cause, so no wonder they’re cross – see this post.

“It’s not as if they reveal smoking guns, cunning plots or illegal activities (so far) – in which case release might be justifiable – rather they show the US diplomats to be high-calibre and thoughtful people doing their job – to make sense of the rest of the world – to the best of their considerable ability. This task will be much harder now and in that sense Wikileaks action is directed against the US with IMHO no justification. No wonder they’re cross and I don’t blame them.

That doesn’t mean I support the harassment of Mr Assange on very dubious charges, supported by a number of useful feminist idiots.”

It’s not as if they reveal smoking guns, cunning plots or illegal activities (so far) – in which case release might be justifiable – rather they show the US diplomats to be high-calibre and thoughtful people doing their job…

The cables – though they are indeed less consequential than the warlogs – do reveal them trying to persuade Germany not to charge their agents for their torture of an innocent and kidnapped man; plotting to quash a similar Spanish trial; conspiring with British officials to store cluster bombs on the stolen Chagos Islands in contempt of an arms treaty…

Nothing we’ve not seen before but – still – they’re hardly things St. Peter will congratulate them on at the Pearly Gates.

I think Sally has the best of it here. What a lot of ‘on this hand’, ‘on the other hand’ wimps the left have become. It is as clear as day that the US government has leant on banks and the rest to cut off the income from Wikileaks. It is obvious that they fear, as all governments do, transparency.

What is frankly ludicrous is people on a site like this making any excuses whatsoever for the opaque. It is an insult to us, the people, to be treated as fools. Which we are not. And those that argue otherwise disresepect.

What are you about? Do you prefer ignorance to facts? Are you scared of facts?

Oh!

And Ted would feel comfortable sitting on witch trials. For all the evidence he brings to an arguement he’d be well suited.

Laban,

You say the US government is ‘cross’. I’d say they were more than that. I’d say they were furious. However, your entire link is to a Wikileaks release. How do you square that in your brain?

A good little patriotic person would have had no truck whatsoever with it but you will probably excuse yourself on the grounds it is now common knowledge. How, exactly did it become ‘common knowledge’ and how exactly does you disseminating it let you off the hook?

Frankly this is double standards.

Good debate overall but some severe misunderstandings appear to exist. The differences that exist between the State and Nation on this issue are irrelevant.

The Nation expects (and pays) the State to keep the whole show on the road through thick and thin. To achieve that we grant the State the right to act autonomously in our name through the election process.

Yes, you got it …..there are going to be casualties in this process because the State only caters for the majority – rarely the minority. As for ‘freedom of speech’, no such thing in any organised society or system that I’m aware of. It’s a total myth.

Ted @ 64,

The Nation expects (and pays) the State to keep the whole show on the road through thick and thin. To achieve that we grant the State the right to act autonomously in our name through the election process.

Not true.

That’s your idea of how a society works. It isn’t very thought out though, is it? For instance we do not intentionally abrogate powers to government, government siezes them. Sometimes overtly, othertimes covertly. The US government claims to speak for all the people, but achieves that by manipulating the agenda. A trap that you may have fallen into.

It is a running joke that the country with the most Nobel Prizes in history trots away from scientific endevours and favours a bunch of whacko talking heads instead. It allows, nay supports, basically brain dead morons on the telly to frame it’s agenda. It has the likes of Sarah Palin discussing foreign policy on the basis that she can see Russia through her curtains.

I know America loves Hollywood. I know America loves video games,. But running a planet on the basis of a hick, misunderstanding of what is real and what is phoney scares the fuck out of me.

What are you about? Do you prefer ignorance to facts? Are you scared of facts?

Yes, some people do and are. You can see it in Ted’s idea of how the state should operate – he casts a vote once every few years so that somebody else can take care of all the messy, ugly details and he doesn’t have to concern himself with what they’re doing in his name. He actively wants to not know, and he’s deeply unhappy with the idea that anybody should try to inform him. Ignorance really is bliss.

@ 65. douglas clark …..Good one. I certainly can’t disagree with your analogy between celebrity, foreign policy and the people.

@ 66. Dunc …..yeah…..that’s about right. Otherwise known as Mr Average.

The only traitors are those who condone torture and indiscriminate killing and show contempt for international law: Wikileaks is more loyal to the values of liberal democracies than the governments and private bodies that seek to silence it.

@ 69. Tim Hardy

If I thought for one minute that Wikilleaks was seeking to promote liberal democracy and values, I would get behind them 100%. They are not or they would have consulted before releasing classified material.

Ted, do you think ‘the state’ ought to be unaccountable between elections?

@70. Ted

Consulted whom? And to what end?

They have taken the advice of the major left-of-centre news organisations on what to release and have removed information that might endanger agents on the ground (something, as Sally pointed out above, that Dick Cheney wasn’t too bothered about).

@ 71. ukliberty

No, that’s what our All Party Parliamentary Sub-Committees are for. I think these committees now cover all aspects of government.

@ 72. Tim Hardy

Apologies, I worded that badly. I should have said something like; ” I would be tempted to believe Wikileaks more if they had conducted an ‘Impact Assessment” before release”.

Ted at 73, so you think ‘the state’ should be free to flout the law, if it chooses?

@ 74. Ted

How do you know they didn’t?

I would argue that by the manner in which they released the information it is evident that they considered the potential economic, social and environmental consequences of their acts which is to all intents and purposes an ‘Impact Assessment’ even if it doesn’t result in a white paper.

@ 75. ukliberty …..don’t be silly, of course I don’t. However, nowadays, we all know the law is only there for the guidance of the wise and the obedience of the foolish. Sadly the law is only a tool to be bandied about by pontificating muppets for their own end. It has little to do with justice any more.

@77. Ted

Your cynicism justifies the passivity that makes good men do nothing and allows evil to triumph. I wouldn’t be so proud of it if I were you.

Whisleblowers like Bradley Manning are heroes who risk torture and possible execution for standing up for civilised values (the values he believed that he was fighting for when he joined the US Army) and organisations like WikiLeaks are heroes for giving them a voice.

The next set of revelations promises to expose critical information on a major bank. Whether you’re a capitalist or a communist, it’s pretty hard to deny that the finance industry is out of control: anything that gives governments a hard enough kick to force them to properly regulate their behaviour has got to be a good thing even though the industry clearly has governments over a barrel and will make them pay dearly for any restrictions on the freedoms they currently abuse. No wonder they’re closing ranks.

The idea that the state only caters for the majority is as ridiculous as believing that pigs might fly.
The line that this or that information should be witheld from the public because it might negatively impact on national security by giving would-be terrorists knowledge has been used too often as a cover-up, now most thinking people just don’t believe it anymore.

@ 78. Tim Hardy …..Wrong, Bradley Manning has broken his contract with his Commander in Chief and thus with the people of America.

I maybe an old fashioned Liberal in political terms also but ….NB…..there are limits.

@80 I think the phrase to describe yourself you were looking for was old fashioned authoritarian, if you don’t mind me cutting through the bullshit.

@80. Ted

There are higher moral authorites than obedience to your C-in-C.

Nuremberg Principle IV states:

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

Yes there are limits – and colluding with torturers and death squads should lie beyond the limits in my opinion but clearly not iin yours.

This is in danger of straying too far off-topic. I think we should agree to disagree now that we’ve both stated our positions.

@ 81. Cylux

Unexpected praise indeed ! Nothing like some of my old teachers descriptions on my reports !

An echo of Trofim @54:

Note how Wikileaks has set back the cause of democracy in Zimbabwe:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/12/how-wikileaks-just-set-back-democracy-in-zimbabwe/68598


Supporters of WikiLeaks seem unable to understand that some things deserve to be kept secret. The fact that governments conceal some information that should be in the public realm has encouraged a belief that all information should be public. The example above and the confidential negotiations in Northern Ireland in the 1990s demonstrate that this belief is misguided. (Government itself is occasionally guilty of being too open; Gordon Brown’s public statement that he intended to sell off UK gold reserves reduced the sale price by £2 billion or £7 billion, depending on who you believe.)

It would be helpful to WikiLeak supporters if they spent a bit more time reading history books about real heroic leakers such as Sarah Tisdall and Clive Ponting. They put their own necks on the line to reveal particular information that they believed should be public. Given their jobs, both could have leaked any number of secrets, but they explicitly chose to leak information (deserving of public exposure) that was uncomfortable to government and which did not compromise security or diplomatic relations.


I am unconvinced that the “war on WikiLeaks” has achieved much. If PayPal and credit card companies have cut off overt funding for WikiLeaks, so what? The internet will allow someone to invent an alternative payment mechanism. Crazy terrorist organisations manage their funding without a PayPal tip box.

I also note that the Guardian, New York Times and other newspapers who have helped WikiLeaks edit material are still extant. The Guardian still has a lobby correspondent and the NYT participates in US government press briefings.

@78 Tim Hardy: “Whisleblowers like Bradley Manning are heroes who risk torture and possible execution for standing up for civilised values…”

Bradley Manning does not deserve torture or execution. No person does. It is assumed that he leaked the video now known as Collateral Damage and other material now disseminated by WikiLeaks.

Whoever leaked the source material for Collateral Damage performed an act that is defensible; whoever leaked the other stuff was acting childishly, and until taken in hand by serious newspapers, WikiLeaks perpetuated that juvenile behaviour. The threat to release unredacted material via BitTorrent (the “WikiLeak insurance policy”) is a return to infantilism.

The redacted material removes the names of people who might be at mortal risk if they are identified. WikiLeaks threatens to expose them if somebody (presumably the US government) upsets WikiLeaks. In what way is this moral or liberal? How is it courageous to threaten people (who have no connection with WikiLeaks or necessarily any government agency) in order to make a stand against a third party?

Ted:
“Anyone who disagrees with this point is welcome to leave these shores.”

– well not really, as to do this, I need a passport. When I use my passport I am accepting the principles that the state will be looking after my security interests. These collectively get expressed as national security, and within them are some very shakey dealings masquerading as national security. Unless someone shines a spotlight on these dealings, then we are all sullied by it. So if I disagree with the point, I have no means of leaving these shores without contradicting myself

Of course I wouldn’t need a passport, if I am someone like the Barclays brothers, But then that also kind of proves the point of the article.

@86 David Hodd: “When I use my passport I am accepting the principles that the state will be looking after my security interests.”

When you use your passport to travel, you are using a travel document. When leaving these islands, your passport is inspected to determine whether you have a legitimate visa for your destination (no visa, no flight), whether you are the person who booked the ticket and whether you are a suspected terrorist or absconder. At your destination your passport is evaluated by the immigration authority to determine whether you are really the passport owner and whether the country wishes to admit you.

On all but the final point (admission to another country), your own conduct is irrelevant (assuming that you are free to travel abroad). Admission may be denied if you have a criminal record. Admission may be denied if you are a political activist that has offended the government of that country.

In no way does use of a passport mean that you accept UK government principles. Possession of a UK passport simply means that the government has provided you with travel documents for the purpose of identity. If you commit an offence in a foreign country (which may include acts that are legal within the UK), the UK government will ensure that you have a legal representative and have communication with your family in the UK. They are not looking after security interests; they are providing a humanitarian service to people who may be out of their depth in countries with different languages and different legal systems.

@84. Charlieman

If the release of that particular cable has damaged democracy in Zimbabwe then that is terrible. The author of the article states:

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.

That suggests that WikiLeaks have been dangerously naive in not realising that Mugabe will seize even the slightest opportunity to hold onto power. That definitely tarnishes the whole project but does it invalidate it? And does it justify the US government in collusion with major financial institutions trying to close it down without due process?

As for the “WikiLeak insurance policy”, I can only say that if I was publishing evidence of a government actively kidnapping and torturing citizens around the world with the happy collusion of other so-called democracies then I’d want them to know that I couldn’t just be made to disappear without consequences. I don’t think that’s childish: it seems a very pragmatic decision. As you yourself note, they have not released the material. Indeed it was their choice to actively seek the advice of the “grown ups” in the media about what to publish and what to redact.

But we’re straying off-topic again. Sunny’s original article is not about the content of the cables, but about the chilling ease with which big business rolls over when it gets a call from government and the way the liberties of the internet turn out to be the result of a tolerance that can be withdrawn at any moment. It’s not democratic at all, it’s a benign dictatorship.

You seem to think that the internet will interpret this as damage and route around it and to an extent this is happening but it doesn’t change the fact that a huge amount of the infrastructure of our lives has just been revealed to be implicitly politically controlled by unaccountable corporations. That should be of concern.

@ 86. David Hodd……the true and full extent of damage done by Wikileaks and those associated with it has yet to be discovered.

One thing we can all be sure of is much tighter security over sensitive information so thank you Wikileaks very much !

Ted:
“the true and full extent of damage done by Wikileaks and those associated with it has yet to be discovered.”

You are speculating here, and so are presuming guilty until proven innocent.

I have watched your comments on this article, and you have not established any rationale for what would constitute reasonable scrutiny. Now I know you are worried that some people might die as a result of wikileaks, but unless you scrutinise what is happening, you will not know that people will die, only suppose it.

There are a number of situations that have emerged through wikileaks cables, which are worthy of exposure, and to which people should be held to account. If un named people die as a result of it, then redirect your anger to those world authorities who decided real politik was more important than not holding those people to account.

@88 Tim Hardy: “That suggests that WikiLeaks have been dangerously naive in not realising that Mugabe will seize even the slightest opportunity to hold onto power. That definitely tarnishes the whole project but does it invalidate it?”

Yes, it does so absolutely. The WikiLeaks argument is that *all* government information should be free. WikiLeaks present a binary case: everything free or everything moderated. We now have an example where everything free imperils a liberal politician and undermines progress to democracy in Zimbabwe.

“As for the “WikiLeak insurance policy”, I can only say that if I was publishing evidence of a government actively kidnapping and torturing citizens around the world with the happy collusion of other so-called democracies then I’d want them to know that I couldn’t just be made to disappear without consequences.”

I hope that you did not mean to say that. The “consequences” of releasing unredacted communications would mean the murder of sources mentioned in WikiLeaks material. I am appalled by US government abduction and torture. I am similarly appalled that WikiLeaks chooses to use Afghan and Iraqi civilians as a barricade against the US government.

“Sunny’s original article is not about the content of the cables, but about the chilling ease with which big business rolls over when it gets a call from government…”

But we don’t know, do we? Perhaps those companies decided, of their own accord, to cease dealing with WikiLeaks. I would welcome a leak on this point, and it would be a defensible leak.

@ 90. David Hodd

Here is something valuable for you to learn in time.

“a still tongue lives in a wise head”

Here’s another:

“We have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth. Used in the same proportions is a sign of wisdom”

You get the picture, Wikileaks have done far more damage to the bond of trust between people than they yet realise.

@90 David Hodd: “If un named people die as a result of it, then redirect your anger to those world authorities who decided real politik was more important than not holding those people to account.”

There are no “un named” people. They are men and women living in Iraq and Afghanistan who have chosen to help their country by working with agencies (which includes armies) in conjunction with the United Nations. They are not “un named” to those who love them.

Real politik? I think that is best determined by the people who are trying to build their own countries, although I think we should be very pushy about moral relativism.

Ted, you seem to be very happy to trust the elites to use govt power in your interests. Believe me, they don’t give a rats shit about you or me. Their actions are carried out for their own benefit. Always has been that way. The difference is that in the last 100 odd years, (a fairly short time) they have had to carry out their interests under the banner of democracy. That is why the ministry of war became the Defence department, Sounds much less threatening.

Vietnam taught them that you can not allow media access to a war, because it will end in people at home questioning what you are doing. That is why the Americans have had a very controlled media covering the war in Iraq. Bush made sure that there was no coverage of body bags and coffins coming back to the US. The media obeyed. Also, after Watergate , the elites understood that they needed to control both the media and the courts. The result was the getting rid of the fair doctrine which ushered in fanatical biased news like Fox, and the courts have been stuffed with far right wing thugs who now openly see no problem in the idea that the executive branch of govt can kill any person anywhere in the world just by the president calling him a terrorist. No trial required. They have backed the concept of torture, effectively throwing the bill of rights and habeus corpus in the trash can and all in the name of national security.

These are dark days, and they could get a lot darker. 9/11 allowed the elites to sweep away much in the way of cheques and balances. Something they have wanted to do but could not find the political will to do it.

@92

You get the picture, Wikileaks have done far more damage to the bond of trust between people than they yet realise.

On the contrary, they have done far more damage to the trust given to paper and digital records. If the secrets and lies had not all been kept on hand so that they could be easily referred to, in order to prevent getting tangled up in their own web, they could not have been leaked.

@94 Sally: “That is why the Americans have had a very controlled media covering the war in Iraq. Bush made sure that there was no coverage of body bags and coffins coming back to the US.”

I do not know whether Sally’s proclamations are valid about conduct in the USA. In the UK, we have places like Wootton Bassett. Dead UK soldiers are held up in their coffins in a public display. Thus we know the horror of war and do not treat it lightly.

“They have backed the concept of torture, effectively throwing the bill of rights and habeus corpus in the trash can and all in the name of national security”

Indeed, they have. Free speech trumps that. We can show that they have acted wrongly in a false cause.

@ 94. sally

Correct in your first line and I was a young adult through the rest of your excellent post. The reason I trust (generally speaking) elected administrations in the west is because I’ve seen several alternatives abroad over a period of nearly 40 years ! I know ours is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it’s a damn site better than the others I’ve seen.

That said, would it not be a good thing for us to experience government under some other format ?

@91. Charlieman

Possibly I don’t mean what you think I mean. I agree releasing the information without editing it to protect the identify of people working in warzones would have horrific consequences.

Let’s model the situation using game theory. WikiLeaks is comprised of cypherpunks and other computer geeks: this is how they will view it.

There are three possible outcomes: all of the information is released; some, redacted information is released; none of the information is released.

WikiLeaks want the second. If they wanted the first they would have done it already.

Their opponents want the third. One way to achieve that goal is through armed force. A small group of soldiers, a drone, a car bomb – and it’s game over.

Through their bluff to release everything – and it is a bluff: we have no way of knowing that they either can or will do it – WikiLeaks have closed the door on an easy win that would silence them permanently.

It’s not about self-preservation it’s about protecting and making possible the release of redacted information and that takes time.

It’s a horrible thing to threaten and the consequences would be awful – and I admire you for putting faces on the “unnamed” potential victims – but I can see why logically and strategically WikiLeaks see the threat as a necessary move.

You may well be right that they haven’t fully grasped the potential human consequences of their actions but I think you are wrong if you think that their goal is to release everything and I think that they are trying (through the help of The Guardian etc) to show responsibility in what they release.

I too would love to know whether pressure was placed on amazon, visa, paypal, etc – but even if it wasn’t, the frightening fact remains that we are building a society increasingly dependent on an infrastructure from which we can be excluded without due process for political reasons.

I own WikileaksBook.com and WikileaksMovie.com

These are the most obvious names for these 2 media events.

Put in a bid at: Wikileaks1776@gmail.com.

Governments are also welcome to bid, to explain their side of the issue.

100. Charlieman

A few words from the Zimbabwe press about WikiLeaks:
http://www.thezimbabwemail.com/index.php?news=6998

“Wikileaks may have just signed Morgan Tsvangirai’s death warrant. It will take an enormous effort on the part of the diplomatic corps of many nations to prevent that. This isn’t a question of simply insulting some leader by gossiping about him being a dirty old man or questioning his self-esteem issues because of his penchant for press releases bordering on beefcake calendars. These cables can be twisted into a charge of treason that will cost a human life.

Too many people are enamored of the idea of transparency, the public’s right to know, freedom of the press. These are wonderful concepts in the abstract. Real journalists know that they must be balanced against protecting the innocent and not making situations worse than they already are.”

101. Charlieman

@98 Tim Hardy: “Through their bluff to release everything – and it is a bluff: we have no way of knowing that they either can or will do it – WikiLeaks have closed the door on an easy win that would silence them permanently.”

It is irrelevant whether WikiLeaks are bluffing. To threaten innocent people with exposure that may lead to their deaths is cowardly and immoral.

@101. Charlieman

You’re still missing my point (for which I can only blame myself for posting comments on New Year’s Eve, a point where few are at their most lucid – my apologies).

I’m obviously happy to agree with you that “To threaten innocent people with exposure that may lead to their deaths is cowardly and immoral.”

In @85 you expressed support for Bradley Manning / the person who leaked the video now known as Collateral Damage and other material now disseminated by WikiLeaks. We agree on that.

Then you contrasted that with the recent cables, a leak which you described as “acting childishly”, claimed “until taken in hand by serious newspapers, WikiLeaks perpetuated that juvenile behaviour” and that “The threat to release unredacted material via BitTorrent (the “WikiLeak insurance policy”) is a return to infantilism.”

Here is where I take issue. I disagree with the way you construct a narrative of silly children raging against the machine which continues in your misleading claim that the threat to release the material is “if somebody (presumably the US government) upsets WikiLeaks”.

WikiLeaks are not worried about being upset by the US government: they are worried about being obliterated by the US government and for all traces of the leaks being destroyed.

(Is this a paranoid fear? Possibly. Remember Assange is a man who earlier in his career designed a cryptographic system called RubberHose designed to protect the secrets of someone even in the face of beating by agents of the state using rubber hoses. The leaks he has seen so far will only have confirmed his view of the world as being run by a shadowy group of immoral individuals willing to torture and kill to protect their power.)

By all means condemn the threat. I do too. I can understand why they feel it is necessary: that does not mean I condone it. As you state, the fact that it’s a bluff makes it no better than the bluffs of nuclear brinkmanship on which it is modelled.

But please understand that some might see your tone as deliberately misrepresenting the importance of the leaks and the organisation behind the sharing of them.

I hope this better clarifies my position and that we can now return to the actual topic (although I appreciate that it is hard to debate without considering the importance or otherwise, significance or otherwise of the leaks).

Clearly you think that they possible negative consequences of the leaked cables far outweighs any good that might come from them and it’s good that you are repeatedly stressing that the release of this information is not an unambiguously good thing.

But the implicit question of the topic remains: how for can we resist governments and corporations in a society where the financial and informational infrastructures are dependent on unaccountable, unelected bodies with vested interests?

Margaret Thatcher is alleged to have said that council housing was “socialism in concrete”. Is the internet “capitalism in technology”?

You and I both agree that unlimited freedom of information is not necessarily a good thing (I would argue that perhaps that is a consequence of the former expectation of secrecy in certain ventures rather than an absolute truth) but I hope we both agree that citizens should have the right to question their governments freely and maybe you’ll also agree that those freedoms are increasingly under threat both online and in the right to protest on the streets.

The “wild west digital frontier” days are long gone and the freedoms that build up the mythology of the net are being slowly eroded by governments and business who evoke the spectres of terrorism, child pornography and copyright infringement (which they like to call “piracy” to make it a little more blood-thirsty so that it doesn’t look so ridiculously inadequate beside the other two). Now as more and more corporations and media organisations are sticking their content online, a business case is being prepared for tiered access to the internet where some web servers are more equal than others so the Liberal Conspiracy site remains down for days because the network is too busy while Fox (who pay more) are streaming “news” without a hiccup to your laptop screen. As more and more families go online, there are plenty of people ready to “think of the children” and consider measures to block pornographic material.

What is happening to WikiLeaks is chilling. There’s a lazy assumption that free internet access will always be there and that we can bring down governments with a hash tag as long as enough people are all tweeting at exactly the same time. Hopefully these recent events, which as Sunny points out have received little discussion, will wake people out of the complacency that “the revolution will being bloggerised” and bring more energy to debates about Mandelson’s Digital Rights Act (where’s the repeal of that you pledged, Nick? – oh of course, that was another pledge you made to students…), The HADOPI law in France, net neutrality, etc.

103. David Hodd

Charlieman @101

“Wikileaks may have just signed Morgan Tsvangirai’s death warrant.

– It strikes me you and Ted are keen to just shoot the messenger over Wikileaks. You are so keen to criticise Wikileaks for releasing information, that you seem to refuse to look at the information being leaked. Now I can accept your point that people’s lives may be at risk, but you can only suggest on principle this might happen. Wikileaks is leaking facts (even if many of those facts are person X say this or believes this), and yet you refuse to deal with what they say. Why is that?

and

@87 – re passports. My passport says on the inside cover “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all thos whom im may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary”. So I am correct in saying “When I use my passport I am accepting the principles that the state will be looking after my security interests. ” – so to move abroad I have to accept those security interests.

Have you tried going abroad without a passport?

104. Charlieman

@102 Tim Hardy

I’ve probably been overcritical of WikiLeaks, partly in frustration at the uncritical praise from liberals on the left and right. Whilst we agree that unlimited exposure of information is sometimes bad, it is an argument that many disregard. However we are now hearing a debate within and around WikiLeaks about how policies of self censorship might be implemented, which I welcome.

I think that you overstate the threat to internet freedom (eg from tiered network service). Such threats (and the overblown stories about child pornography or copyright abuse) have been with us as long as the public internet. Note also that online communities existed before the internet and that there will be ways to break out of walled gardens created by ISPs or governments.

“WikiLeaks are not worried about being upset by the US government: they are worried about being obliterated by the US government and for all traces of the leaks being destroyed.”

Owing to the way that WikiLeaks is established (and the mirrors for their material), it is implausible that they can be obliterated. Removal of easy ways to make payments to WikiLeaks is disruptive, not destructive. During its DNS problems, WikiLeaks remained online (although you have to question their failure to use a bullet proof DNS host).

105. Charlieman

@103 David Hodd: “Wikileaks is leaking facts (even if many of those facts are person X say this or believes this), and yet you refuse to deal with what they say. Why is that?”

In this thread I wrote: “Whoever leaked the source material for Collateral Damage performed an act that is defensible”. In other threads, I have commented that whilst few of the leaks reveal things that we could not surmise or read elsewhere, I welcome those leaks that do not threaten human life or peace building.

The leaks, for example, prove that western governments were aware that mercenaries such as Blackwater murdered civilians, that western armies handed suspects to the Iraqi police knowing that they would be tortured and that Iran was fuelling civil war in Iraq. However, we did not need WikiLeaks to know these things. Those stories had already appeared in our newspapers, told to us by aid workers, journalists, honourable troops and plain old civilians. Old fashioned journalism has done a good job at exposing what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Re passports: do not take the wording on your passport too literally. As those who have been kidnapped in Somalia will report, it is a long time since the UK government sent the gunboats to sort things out.


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  23. Loss of Privacy

    RT @sunny_hundal: This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  24. Marie

    RT @sunny_hundal: This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  25. green steve

    RT @sunny_hundal: This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  26. sunny hundal

    Screw the students (*blasphemy*), what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z (from earlier)

  27. nemesisrepublic

    RT @sunny_hundal: Screw the students *blasphemy* what really worries me the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z (from earlier

  28. Tina Louise

    What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/kFAR9v7 via @libcon

  29. jollyhones

    @sunnyhundal http://bit.ly/ei4ApT makes you wonder what they're going to release next.

  30. Rachel

    RT @sunny_hundal: Screw the students (*blasphemy*), what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z (fr …

  31. Aileen Kane

    RT @sunny_hundal: Screw the students (*blasphemy*), what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z (fr …

  32. Graham Linehan

    Good @sunny_hundal post on the war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  33. thecaustic

    RT @tinalouiseUK: What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/kFAR9v7 via @libcon

  34. oldtriangles

    RT @Glinner: Good @sunny_hundal post on the war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  35. Ben Denison

    RT @Glinner: Good @sunny_hundal post on the war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  36. Bob Ashworth

    What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ee93RfA via @libcon

  37. Mikael Båth

    About WikiLeaks in LC: http://bit.ly/dHTRZy

  38. seanrr1982

    RT @sunny_hundal: This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  39. Roland Ellison

    What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://t.co/nTQhY92 via @libcon

  40. Rachel Hubbard

    What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks | Liberal Conspiracy: http://bit.ly/fhuALq via @addthis

  41. Scott F Seaward

    What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/SH2t4P5 via @libcon

  42. pyfgcrl

    RT @sunny_hundal This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z || last paragraph is poignant.

  43. kataisa

    RT @libcon: What really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  44. Kieron Merrett

    Just seen this. I agree >> RT @sunny_hundal This is what really worries me in the ongoing war against WikiLeaks – http://bit.ly/gj1a8Z

  45. Claira . Ka Mate

    Interesting re: WikiLeaks and how they've had their funding choked. Worrying… http://t.co/8P382Tqo via @libcon

  46. Why we need more banker bashing | Sunny Hundal | ccnew

    […] and we wouldn’t have democratic recourse. Organisations such as WikiLeaks were simply frozen out of the global financial system at the click of a button. Banks get special preferences like no other industry, and yet we […]





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