One Wikileaks article definitely worth reading

While Julian Assange answers his critics and a contemptible senior American politician calls for his execution for daring to shine light on corners the authoritarians think they have a right to keep hidden (frankly, any commentator or politician who calls for the murder of people with whom they disagree should be excoriated and then shunned), Mark Pesce explores how crippling Wikileaks now (and it’s interesting how they’ve done it) will make what comes after it stronger:

The failure of Napster was the blueprint for Gnutella.

In exactly the same way – note for note – the failures of Wikileaks provide the blueprint for the systems which will follow it, and which will permanently leave the state and its actors neutered. Assange must know this – a teenage hacker would understand the lesson of Napster. Assange knows that someone had to get out in front and fail, before others could come along and succeed. We’re learning now, and to learn means to try and fail and try again.

This failure comes with a high cost. It’s likely that the Americans will eventually get their hands on Assange – a compliant Australian government has already made it clear that it will do nothing to thwart or even slow that request – and he’ll be charged with espionage, likely convicted, and sent to a US Federal Prison for many, many years. Assange gets to be the scapegoat, the pinup boy for a new kind of anarchism. But what he’s done can not be undone; this tear in the body politic will never truly heal.

WikiLeaks is flawed. There are no safeguards. Dangerous lies can be published as easily as necessary truths. The worst state actors get away scot-free, and gain power at the expense of their less-sinister competitors.

But when compared with the previous status quo, in which the powerful act in our names, with our resources, with our protection but by keeping us utterly in the dark – WikiLeaks is clearly the lesser of the two evils. By a long way.

We need it, or something like it. And we should look with extreme concern at those self-interested politicians working so hard to make it go away.

ELSEWHERE: My Friday post on efforts to shut it down.

UPDATE: Oh, suddenly the Liberals quite like the WikiLeaks thing:

Coalition turns up pressure over Kevin Rudd’s plan to contain ‘paranoid’ China

We’d like it both ways, thanks:

The Opposition has also warned the Government not to rush to condemn WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange until it can confirm Australian law has been breached in the leaking of a cable reporting the conversations.

If there’s something in there about the last time we were in Government, though…

UPDATE #2: The Washington Times publishes a call for Assange’s murder and is not immediately denounced by all.

UPDATE #3: Are security services really stalking Assange’s lawyers? The UK security services, in the midst of an economic crisis? What a spectacular waste of public money.

UPDATE #4: The Swiss banks, long a haven for dictators and tyrants, from the Nazis through to Mugabe and the Kims, finally draw the line – on Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, Twitter denies censoring the #WikiLeaks hashtag.

UPDATE #5: And John Birmingham asks why our officials are at best ignoring and at worst inciting calls to murder an Australian citizen.

UPDATE #6: Even Ron Paul, wacky libertarian candidate in the US, makes a decent point (hidden amongst some thoroughly disagreeable ones) – the story on WikiLeaks should be on WHAT THE LEAKS REVEAL! Not who’s bloody revealed them. Good work, media, for demanding answers from officials about what they’re going to do to Assange, rather than why do they think they can do whatever they like?

And it’s about time writers stopped misleadingly using the word “rape” to describe what Sweden wants to question Assange about: it’s about allegedly not wearing a condom during consensual sex, not “rape”. (I don’t really care to explore the allegations about his accuser’s alleged links with the CIA.)

UPDATE #7: There’s video of Huckabee calling for the source’s execution. I’m yet to see the evidence that he called for Assange’s – the link in the post claims it, but hasn’t yet backed it up.

UPDATE #8: Excellent open letter to the PM from prominent Australians, calling on her to reaffirm her commitment to standing up for Australian citizens. Unfortunately the comments don’t seem to be working, so I can’t add my name in support. But I do support it, most vigorously.

UPDATE #9: Assange has been arrested on those highly dubious charges.

They’ve refused him bail as a “flight risk”, which makes no sense since he’s known of this pending warrant for ages and hasn’t fled before now – in fact, he’s made sure the police know where he is.

The ABC story seems to suggest that it might be easier to extradite him to the US from Sweden, but that doesn’t make sense. The UK would hand him over to the US even more willingly than the Swedes, based on recent form.

Did you know you are subject to US law, enacted by politicians against whom you do not get to vote? You didn’t? Welcome to the modern world.

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51 responses to “One Wikileaks article definitely worth reading

  1. WikiLeaks is flawed. There are no safeguards. Dangerous lies can be published as easily as necessary truths.

    As I understand it that’s not entirely true – Wikileaks does subject the material to close scrutiny before releasing it to the public, in order to weed out dangerous information (such as the names of operatives etc) and to check for veracity. In fact, when the first cache of US government information was about to be released Wikileaks sent it to the Pentagon first and asked for US government assistance in redacting sensitive infomration.

    The Pentagon, unsurprisingly, refused to co-operate given that it knew it couldn’t ultimately control Wikileaks. Better to just allow the leak and then condemn the leakers for endangering the troops eh?

    Obviously the internal Wikileaks review is unlikely to be anything near foolproof, but it is not correct to say that there are no safeguards.

  2. jordanrastrick

    The rhetoric surrounding this case is inflamed enough without any need to exaggerate. While other more fringe political elements have called for Assange’s extra-judicial murder, Huckabee has not said anything about executing him. If you read his actual words as quoted in the blog, he is talking about whoever leaked the documents. This person is presumably a) a US citizen, and therefore subject to both the jurisdictions of a US court and the possibility of a US treason charge, and b) the only person involved who is actually likely to have broken any relevant laws, since they are pretty much all geared against those who in the first instance access or disclose classified material without permission, as opposed to those such as wikileaks who merely are publishing it.

    Assange I think has been reckless and irresponsible in not applying any especially reasonable public interest test in judging what to publish. Still, his actions are not as far as I can judge criminal nor egregiously dangerous, and the hypocrisy of most political leaders’ reactions has been quite appalling.

    Of course, the newer, better wikileaks that Pesce foreshadows arising from the ashes of the old is likely to have fewer safeguards against poorly judged leaks, not more. The current setup is vulnerable, just as napster was, precisely to the extend that it is centralized – it’s servers can be shutdown, it’s key personnel arrested. The obvious solution is to adapt the same P2P architecture that has made copyright law essentially unenforceable – distribute encrypted leaks through a global secure and anonymized network of individual PCs. In this way the source of the leak will be the sole party capable of deciding what material goes public and what doesn’t – no intermediary is required.

    Expect governments and corporations to invest a great deal into developing more secure and auditable information systems, and for the penalties for disclosure to go up.

  3. “WikiLeaks is flawed. There are no safeguards. Dangerous lies can be published as easily as necessary truths. ”

    My understanding was that they are very careful to verify their sources. Have they yet published anything that turned out to be a hoax or a lie?

  4. Good points, and I should’ve said “few safeguards”. The problem with relying on an organisation like Wikileaks to get this stuff out there, rather than reforming the proper channels so they work, is that no-one is answerable for their decisions. Quid custodiet ipsos custodes, as it were, if I haven’t buffered up the Latin.

  5. Quid custodiet ipsos custodes, as it were, if I haven’t buffered up the Latin.

    Er, I think it’s the English that’s been “buffered up” there…

  6. BLOODY IPHONE!

    Originally it turned “custodes” into “curries”. “Quis custodet ipsos curriers”. Who curries the guards indeed.

    Also, I did not type “quid”.

    I don’t know why I thought the phone would leave Latin alone.

  7. Washington Post article has called for his murder as well

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/2/assassinate-assange/

  8. That’s outrageous. Post updated.

  9. Splatterbottom

    The question is who is going to watch the watchers. There are no external safeguards on the behaviour of Wikileaks.

    Maybe some of the internal dissenters will have something to say.

  10. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, indeed.

    (And the iPhone didn’t correct it to “who guards the curriers” this time.)

  11. The question is who is going to watch the watchers. There are no external safeguards on the behaviour of Wikileaks.

    Why is this even relevant? Wikileaks is not a public organisation prosecuting policy, nor does it have its hands on any levers of power. It is a wholly private organisation, funded through donations and devoted only to publishing information.

    It has no inherent ‘authoritiy’ and people are free to accept or reject the validity of the ‘leaks’ it releases (although in this regard it is worth noting that none of the attacks on it so far have been on the basis that it is leaking false information). It’s no different, in principle, to any other media outlet.

    The only “external safeguards” that it is appropriate to impose on it are the same safeguards imposed on all other media organisations, and on all of us as private actors . Treating wikileaks like it has an obligation to be accountable to anyone other than the public marketplace for its product completely misrepresents it as posessing an authority that it simply doesn’t have.

    Whatever happened to “the best disinfectant is sunshine” SB? Why is your commitment to free speech and transparent government so selective?

  12. jordanrastrick

    I’m guessing the reason no one is taking the time to denounce the Washington Times is because its a pretty fringe right-wing paper, massively subsidised and completely controlled by the Unification Church a.k.a. “Moonies”, South Korea’s contribution to the modern era’s successful messianic cults. I doubt anyone with any real influence takes it remotely seriously.

    If – as Anthony_ had incorrectly stated in his comment, despite the glaring contrast with the stated URL – the Washington Post had published such an article, that would be rather shocking, and definitely worth making a fuss about.

    Despite having taken the time to update your post with a link to another foolish extremist calling for murder, Jeremy, I can’t help but note you somehow haven’t yet managed to correct your repetition of the false allegation that a Republican presidential candidate has done the same. Perhaps you didn’t read my first comment? Or is the truth less important here than cultivating the maximum possible outrage?

  13. The link is temporarily not working for me, but I’m fairly sure it said that Huckabee had called for Assange’s execution.

  14. Whatever happened to “the best disinfectant is sunshine” SB?

    C’mon Mondo, I’m sure SB still believes that.
    It’s just that he’d like those in charge of drawing the curtains to be the kind of people of whom he approves!

    As for Huckabee, to be fair he only called for Assange to be executed after he was found guilty of treason.
    Thinking that the USA can charge an Australian with treason shows either extreme hubris or extreme ignorance.
    I honestly can’t work out which it is.

    Cheers

  15. Whatever happened to “the best disinfectant is sunshine” SB? Why is your commitment to free speech and transparent government so selective?

    This is a tough one for him: defending his beloved free speech vs railing against some lefties. Naturally, lefty-bashing trumps all in SB’s bizarro world.

  16. For the record, the article Jeremy linked to about Huckabee contains the following quote:

    Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said Monday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be tried for treason. He followed up the call by saying Mr. Assange should be executed if found guilty.

    Sounds to me like a call for Assange’s execution. I think you owe someone an apology Jordan.

  17. Actually, I got that Huckabee thing wrong.
    The video in this link makes it clear that he was talking about the leaker within the US Government, and not Assange, being tried for treason.

    Sorry.

  18. This is a tough one for him: defending his beloved free speech vs railing against some lefties.

    I think you’re right buns. I’ve been unfairly treating SB as though he was taking the contrary view when in fact he was just avoiding comment on the free speech/transparency issues in favour of taking pot-shots at the left.

    It’s a shame his commentary is so regularly narrowed in this way.

  19. Splatterbottom

    WTF Mondo? I agreed with your position on transparency over on the other thread. Overall I think Wikileaks is a good thing. Of course, that organisation should be subject to the same standards of transparency it applies to others. There is also an argument that the leaks will ultimately mean that governments become more secretive.

    My first reaction to the leaks was that this is a good thing. I am still trying to think through the consequences. Fortunately we have come a long way since the D-Notices, and I would hate to see that system re-introduced.

    I would like to know what Wikileaks is holding back. So far the material is pretty benign, but I suspect that there is some really interesting stuff being held back as a bargaining chip to ensure the safety of Wikileaks staff. there are also the issues of bias and distortion by omission. It is a bit like Wikipedia – the information should be treated with caution until people understand the process better and the likely pitfalls.

  20. WTF Mondo? I agreed with your position on transparency over on the other thread.

    You’re right SB – I’m being unnecessarily provocative given what you’ve written so far. Sorry about that.

  21. Splatterbottom

    It appears that Assange actually hopes that his actions will force the US government to become less transparent.

  22. jordanrastrick

    Sounds to me like a call for Assange’s execution. I think you owe someone an apology Jordan.

    I’m well aware of what the article says, Mondo. On the other hand, not only could you apparently not quite manage to read the whole half a page of it, I can only assume you didn’t even read my first comment, given there should have been enough detail in that for someone as intelligent as yourself to spot the incredibly basic error that the article makes, and that Jeremy has failed to catch.

    Anyway, for the more accurate record, here is the introduction of the article again with a marginal increase in context.

    Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said Monday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be tried for treason. He followed up the call by saying Mr. Assange should be executed if found guilty.

    “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty,” the Republican said in an interview.

    Emphasis is mine.

    Note that the first paragraph is the blogger’s interpretation of what Huckabee said, and is directly contradicted by the actual Huckabee quote of the second paragraph, which explicitly states that the person he wants tried for treason is the member of the US government who passed the material to Assange, and not Assange himself.

    there are also the issues of bias and distortion by omission.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Assange is irrationally anti-American and that this drives an explicit agenda to embarrass the U.S. government. However, despite the bleatings of the neo-cons, I seriously doubt he would indefinitely sit on any similarly impressive trove of classified material from China, Russia, North Korea etc.

  23. Security services stalking Assange’s lawyers? Swiss banks closing his account? More updates to the post above.

  24. SB – that article you linked to above is deranged. It is quite transparently attemptting to discredit Assange by constructing a completely speculative cartoonish philosophy and then attributing it to him. It does this by mixing quotes from American commentators (who are ‘interpreting’ his words – a strange necessity since Assange writes in English) with actual quotes from Assange, and even manages to assert his philosophy is equivalent to that of the Unibomber!!

    Why are you so partial to this obvious and vapid character assassination?

  25. Sorry all, that would be the ‘unabomber’.

  26. jordanrastrick

    The Birmingham article is spot on.

    Still no correction to your post concerning Huckabee, Jeremy, despite the additional update to it, nor any acknowledgment of how badly misjudged your comment on the matter was, mondo.

    Rest assured the amount of crap I will give either of you the next time you dare to criticize a journalist for poor fact checking is growing more than linearly with the number of times I’m obliged to bring this to your attention.

  27. The video shows him calling for the source’s execution. It doesn’t contradict claims in the post originally linked to that Huckabee also called for Assange’s execution.

    However, I haven’t seen that claim backed up so I’ve included an update clarifying it.

    Certainly there are nutbags out there, mainly on the US Right, calling for Assange’s execution. Huckabee may or may not be one of them.

  28. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, stop being so defensive. I linked to the article to because it has an interesting view of Assange’s thinking. It seems a plausible interpretation of what Assange actually wrote. Treat it as a hypothesis. It is going to take a while to fully appreciate the nature and ramifications of the Wikileaks phenomenon. An open mind would help.

    There are also some interesting views here. Take them for what they are: leaks of unknown provenance.

    You can completely discount these views if you like. It probably suits your mindset. I will keep an open mind until I know a whole lot more than I do now.

  29. Splatterbottom

    Jordan, the Birmingham article was going well when he condemned calls for the execution of Assange but then at the end he rather incongruously added:

    those moronic politicians and media celebretards in the US who’ve been calling for his murder should be getting a visit from one of our consular officials, preferably an ex-SAS or Commando Regiment old boy, to have a quiet word in their shell-like about how seriously we take incitement to murder our fellow little Vegemiters.

  30. Mondo, stop being so defensive.

    I’m only doing so because you’re so willingly playing the same smear game that Washington and most of the media is – i.e. ignore what is actually being revealed and instead just playing the man. If the insiders can successfully make this all about Julian Assange (and from your participation so far I’d say they’ve succeeded in your case) then they can quickly shut down this bothersome little eruption of scrutiny and go back to operating in near-total secrecy.

    You accuse me of discounting alternate views on Assange but the truth is I am simply uninterested in their line of enquiry. I am not even a little interested in who Julian Assange is or what his personality is like – all that is an obvious distraction from the fundamental issue of whether Wikileaks is doing a good thing by shedding light on what our governments are doing in our name.

  31. Rest assured the amount of crap I will give either of you the next time you dare to criticize a journalist for poor fact checking is growing more than linearly

    Jordan – go fuck yourself you pompous little prick. You can take your threats and shove them, sunshine.

  32. jordanrastrick

    However, I haven’t seen that claim backed up so I’ve included an update clarifying it.

    The claim hasn’t been backed up and won’t be backed up because its false, which is why no one outside the statecolumn.com blogger and yourself has made it.

    The video shows him calling for the source’s execution. It doesn’t contradict claims in the post originally linked to that Huckabee also called for Assange’s execution.

    What Huckabee says in the video constitutes the sum total of his calls for anyone to be executed. It is abundantly clear from the wording of the statecolumn article that their source for the claim is that same interview, since they quote from it directly, immediately after making their accusation, and provide no other evidence whatsoever. The article thus contradicts itself.

    Or do you think Huckabee gave one interview, that every reputable source in the world has based its reporting on, in which he called for the source of the leaks to be executed for treason; and also a second interview, in which he called for Assange’s execution, which somehow mysteriously hasn’t been reported anywhere at all; and that in a complete non sequitur the statecolumn blogger has based their headline on the latter but then decided to quote from the former?

    The blogger has simply made a fundamental and rather idiotic misinterpretation of what was said. You’ve repeated it, and even now despite the abundant evidence you won’t retract the completely baseless accusation. Instead you’ve qualified that it might not be true because you’ve yet to see evidence for it. Well, perhaps there’s some chance its not true that you beat your wife every night – I’ve yet to see the claim backed up, although there’s nothing in anything you’ve ever written to contradict it directly.

    To have made the original mistake was easy – you’re a blogger with limited time to look into such stories, not a professional journalist. However, your obstinate refusal to properly correct such a glaring error after having it loudly and repeatedly brought to your attention reflects badly on your integrity as a blogger, to be frank. It certainly undermines your position as a critic of journalistic standards in the mainstream media.

    Jordan, the Birmingham article was going well when he condemned calls for the execution of Assange but then at the end he rather incongruously added:

    SB, I think he’s right to call on the Australian government to apply diplomatic pressure against anyone in an official position calling for Assange to be killed. I’m assuming the SAS reference is largely tongue in cheek.

  33. Splatterbottom

    On the contrary, the whole incident is worthy of examination, and in particular Assange’s motives are interesting. It looks like you’ve already taken sides and are trying to shut down discussion. This illustrates the closed leftist mind in all its vacant glory – work out whose side he Assange is on and then acting accordingly, shutting out all other considerations. Jeremy’s and Jordan’s take on this is far more open and questioning than your time-warped tribalistic approach. The cold war is over you are free to think for yourself now.

  34. It looks like you’ve already taken sides and are trying to shut down discussion. This illustrates the closed leftist mind in all its vacant glory – work out whose side he Assange is on and then acting accordingly, shutting out all other considerations.

    It doesn’t look like that to me. I think you’re projecting. You’re so obsessed with leftists and their supposedly closed minds and you want so badly to accuse them of bringing closed minds to issues so as to feed your superiority complex, that you’re seeing closed-mindedness where it doesn’t exist. Nothing in mondo’s comments on this issue indicates a closed mind. And you have the nerve to tell him the Cold War is over! You’re the one who keeps going about leftists, Communists, etc. Why not just stick to the issues instead of constantly boring us all shitless with your constant editorialising about leftists and how vacant they all are?

    Alternatively, why bother coming to a leftist messageboard to discuss issues with leftists if they are all so innately closed-minded and vacant? There’s nothing in it for you, is there? Except to satisfy your obvious need to puff yourself up with endless reminders about how superior you are to all closed-minded leftists, what with your self-proclaimed open-mindedness. It’s clear you have a huge ego that needs feeding daily, but try to imagine how incredibly tiresome it is from our point of view. Seriously – try to imagine it with that amazing open mind you keep telling us you have.

    Here’s a tip:
    Get. Over. Yourself.

  35. LOL – the “cold war” SB? Really? I’m 34 years old – I don’t remember the cold war.

    It’s ironic that you accuse me of trying to shut down debate, given that my motives are actually the opposite. By focusing on Julian Assange and whether or not he can be usefully portrayed as a “rabid anti-American elitist lefty”, the media and the governments will play perfectly into the hands of ideologues like you, who hear those words and lose all ability to apply reason.

    It is those commentators that are playing to ‘tribal politics’ by trying to convince the population that Assange is some sort of fringe lunatic, and therefore that Wikileaks should be marginalised. And it is equally those commentators who wish to shut down debate by focusing on irrelevant personality smears, such as what kind of person is Assange to work with.

    Personally, I don’t care a hoot for Assange’s politics or ideology – he could be a right-wing nutter for all I care – it’s what Assange is actually doing that is deserving of our focus, support and attention.

  36. Splatterbottom

    Buns: “Nothing in mondo’s comments on this issue indicates a closed mind.”

    Mondo said: “I am not even a little interested in who Julian Assange is or what his personality is like” which to me indicates that his mind is closed to those issues.

    ” your constant editorialising about leftists and how vacant they all are?”

    What is with the “all”. Did I not in fact say that Jeremy’s take on this is far more open and questioning?

    “why bother coming to a leftist messageboard to discuss issues with leftists”

    You probably don’t notice, but I agree with a lot that is said here. Like on this thread, for instance. I disagree with those who want to execute Assange, and I don’t think the disclosures are a bad thing. However I think the discussion should be open to consideration of the limits of this type of disclosure, its effects on the ability of governments to do their job and how the leaks sit with existing laws and what other forms of leaking might evolve out of it.The Hypocrisy of the NYT in not publishing the Climategate emails because they were “stolen” was an added bonus.

    In other cases even though I disagree with the general sentiment, I like to understand other points of view, and this place is good company. I know this will be fairly strange to you, but some people like to have their ideas challenged. Maybe you should hang out on an echo chamber blog like Kos where they just delete dissenting voices.

    The basic problem with your stance is that you will only be happy in your little Amen corner where everyone adheres to the same leftist doctrines. you want to boot out dissenters, and given your monochrome view of the world I can see why you take criticism of ideological groupthink so personally. You should free your mind and start thinking for yourself. If you can’t do that at least try to relax a bit and lighten up.

  37. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “whether or not he can be usefully portrayed as a “rabid anti-American elitist lefty”

    I think he is more an anarchist than a lefty.

    I am interested in understanding the whole phenomenon, and to do so it is necessary to understand the underlying philosophy of Wikileaks, and the personal dynamics of the organisation It really isn’t helpful for you to straightjacket the discussion according to your prejudices.

    Given that Assange has published papers which shed light on what he seems to be attempting with Wikileaks, I can’t for the life of me see what is wrong with discussing them. Oh wait, you are worried that they will distract from the main message you want people to take from this. But so far the leaks have been fairly innocuous. Maybe in this case the medium is the message.

  38. jordanrastrick

    Jordan – go fuck yourself you pompous little prick. You can take your threats and shove them, sunshine.

    OK, Mondo, now that you’ve got that little outburst out of your system, would you care to actually respond to the substance of anything I said? Or, heaven forbid, actually admit that you were wrong when you asserted I owe Jeremy an apology?

  39. I think he is more an anarchist than a lefty.

    I agree with SB.

    Wait, did I just write that?

  40. The basic problem with your stance is that you will only be happy in your little Amen corner where everyone adheres to the same leftist doctrines. you want to boot out dissenters, and given your monochrome view of the world I can see why you take criticism of ideological groupthink so personally. You should free your mind and start thinking for yourself. If you can’t do that at least try to relax a bit and lighten up.

    The basic problem with your stance is it is a complete strawman. In actual fact, I don’t have a monochrome view of the world, I don’t need to boot anyone and I don’t need to crush dissent. Those are figments of your imagination, no doubt brought on by your paranoid, obsessive hatred of leftists and left wing points of view. Slight problem with your theory is that I don’t have any problem with other dissenters here. Notice that? It’s because they’re able to dissent without tiring us all with endless boring rants about leftists and what a blight they are on the world. They’re able to express non-leftist points of view without behaving like self-important wankers and lecturing us all on the evils of leftist groupthink. Take a leaf out of their book.

    And I think you’ll find it’s the right wing message boards where dissent is crushed. Just try getting any vaguely left wing point of view published at a News Ltd message board/blog. But if you do manage to get one through, get prepared for an avalanche of abuse. That’s how it goes at right wing/conservative blogs. If I went to the same right wing messageboard and repeatedly wanked on about how superior I was with my open mind and complaining endlessly about right wing groupthink and monochrome this and that and how much they all want to have sex with Genghis Khan, I’m sure I’d be banned within about 48 hours. I certainly wouldn’t have an expectation of being taken seriously, anyway.

  41. Splatterbottom

    Buns, this is tiresome. I didn’t attack “the left” on this thread. I made comments about specific isssues, and then made an observation about Mondo after he attacked me. (He is not his usual measured self on this thread.)

    There have been plenty of good issues raised on this thread – why don’t you talk about those rather than playing ideological ping-pong.

    Try some of these:

    Do you think the law should accommodate leakers? Do you think there should be any restrictions on what they leak? What if people are put in jeopardy as a result of a leak? What about newspapers that use the leaked material? Why are people getting so hysterical over the leaks? Will this result in more or less censorship on the internet? How will governments change now they know that nothing is really secret anymore.? All better topics for discussion than your bilious rants, aren’t they.

  42. Splatterbottom

    RM given that more disclosure of government activity is better, what do you think will be the consequence?

    I assume that government sources will be more neutral in their internal communications. If they are going to be frank, and they should be, they will need to be more careful to get it right since there is always the risk of the comment leaking.

    For example, Rudd’s comment on China only confirms what we already know of his flawed character. It would have been better for all concerned if he hadn’t felt the need to make such a stupid comment. Maybe he will restrain himself in future. That sort of change in behaviour seems like a good thing.

  43. jordanrastrick

    For example, Rudd’s comment on China only confirms what we already know of his flawed character.

    Really? While I agree with the proposition that Rudd’s character is flawed, I’d be interested to know which specific leaked comment on China confirms it in your mind.

  44. Splatterbottom

    This one:

    The State Department cable detailing a March 2009 conversation over lunch between Rudd, who was then prime minister, and Clinton in Washington states that the Australian leader described himself a “brutal realist on China”.

    It said Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat who was once posted to Beijing, argued for “multilateral engagement with bilateral vigour” in China.
    He called for “integrating China effectively into the international community and allowing it to demonstrate greater responsibility, all while also preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong”, the cable states.

  45. what do you think will be the consequence?

    Hopefully less hissy fits from politicians in the media when things have been “leaked” from their departments. I recall a rather vitriolic Phillip Ruddock a few years ago letting loose on the 7.30 Report.

    What do they expect? They are our elected officials, acting on our behalf. Behave normally, for Christ’s sake, not all this back-stabbing bullsh*t.

  46. There have been plenty of good issues raised on this thread – why don’t you talk about those rather than playing ideological ping-pong.

    Says the man who wrote this above: “This illustrates the closed leftist mind in all its vacant glory . . . . The cold war is over you are free to think for yourself now.” LOL.

    As for your suggested list of topics above – it’s good to see you turning your attention away from the vapid personality smears directed at Assange for long enough to recognise that there are far more weighty and important issues to consider here. I would, however, add to your list the fact that we are currently witnessing an unprecedented collusion of governments, their media servants and their vassal corporations in an attempt to pursue, punish, and possibly kill a man for doing nothing more than providing a mechanism for whistleblowers to get information into the public domain.

    Incidentally, that is what has got me so fired up in relation to this issue. I couldn’t care less about what has been released, what ‘message’ it sends or whether Julian Assange wears underpants – it is solely the authoritarian response of governments worldwide and the meek acceptance of this by most of the media and the public that concerns me.

    As a declared enemy of the authoritarian state I would have assumed you would be a little concerned by this issue too. I’m a little surprised that you have so far ignored it in favour of enthusiastically engaging in speculative nonsense about Assange’s personality and private life.

  47. jordanrastrick

    I don’t think there’s anything in that comment from Rudd, SB, that necessarily reflects anything other than practical foreign policy discussion with a close military ally.

    And regarding your other discussion, for what its worth, I think

    1) A substantial portion of the contents of the leaks
    2) Wikileaks’s role in publishing them en-masse
    3) Assange’s personality quirks and private agenda driving 2)
    4) The highly co-ordinated international attacks on Assange and Wikileaks
    5) The media’s focus on 2), 3) and even 4) at the expense of 1)

    are all pretty noteworthy issues that need to be critically examined.

  48. Splatterbottom

    RM, I think it is clear by now that we will get more hissy fits from the pollies. This is moreso in the US where the leak is perceived as an attack on the country, and the publication is seen as some sort of aiding and abetting.

    It is important to differentiate the two things. Once information is out there, the press have little option than to cover it. In the past a leaker would go straight to a newspaper to ensure that the word got out. Wikileaks has shown how the internet is a more efficient means of getting the information out.

    Mondo: “Incidentally, that is what has got me so fired up in relation to this issue. I couldn’t care less about what has been released, what ‘message’ it sends or whether Julian Assange wears underpants – it is solely the authoritarian response of governments worldwide and the meek acceptance of this by most of the media and the public that concerns me.”

    Authoritarian response? The US government is considering its legal position and the Australian government is providing consular support to Assange. There are few loudmouth politicians saying extreme things, but those are not the actions of governments, and are the other side of the reflexive angst of the chattering classes.

    Jordan, I think it was stupid of Rudd to talk about the use of force against China. He was just blowing smoke up Hillary’s arse (hopefully not from the same cigar Bill used to pleasure Monica). The impulse for this was the same wanking egotism that caused him to put Bush on speakerphone for the entertainment of his dinner guests.

    The first reaction of the media was a discussion of the content of the leaks. I’m sure there will be more of this as the leaks are dribbled out to us.

    There was actually little of interest in the leaks, although I found interesting the discussion of how the US used its power to try to bully other countries into submitting to its will at that Copenhagen warming wankfest.

    I suspect that the media has focussed on the latter items because of the lack of red meat in the leaked documents.

  49. jordanrastrick

    I don’t think its stupid of any Foreign Minister to countenance, with a close military ally, the possibility of relations with China degrading to the point of armed conflict. Its hopefully only the minutest of possibilities, but our government would be remiss if they weren’t planning for the contingency. But you might be right that the wording of Rudd’s point reflects his rather unbearable ego, or at least a complete overreaction to U.S. suggestions Australia can’t act tough enough with China.

  50. Authoritarian response?

    Julian Assange has been arrested SB, is currently in jail, and governments worldwide (including ours) have colluded in this outcome. You know as well as I do that he’s being locked up specifically to prevent him publishing information, and to act as a deterrent to others considering the same.

    That’s autoritarianism. Add it to the immediate calls for threats, violence and even assassination coming from a large section of the American political class, media and general population and you have a very real and very widespread authoritarian movement burgeoning right in front of your eyes.

    Jesus SB. I used to think you actually believed all the libertarian stuff you spouted. Hell you even changed the way I think about the exercise of freedom and the importance of its protection from those who want to control and dictate to the rest of us.

    But now that governments worldwide are actually colluding to imprison a man for doing nothing other than publishing inconvenient information you’re uninterested. All you want to do is wallow blissfully in the transparent smears and distractions thrown up by those in power.

    I thought you, of all people, would have recognised what’s happening here for what it really is. Clearly I was wrong.

  51. jordanrastrick

    For the record, Jeremy, you’re now in good company at least as far as the original error concerning Huckabee goes. The Herald’s European correspondent and the 7.30 report both made the same mistake atoday! Worryingly they used the Huckabee quote, but removed from the context that exposed the error in both cases.

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