Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Case of Wikileaks, Part I—The Hacker’s Treehouse

This is the first of a two-part examination of Wikileaks. Part II, “The New McCarthyism” will be posted on Thursday morning. 
GL.
It’s only when you poke the beast that you get a sense of its true nature.

The American government, media, and corporate establishment are all in a tizzy over the latest poke from Wikileaks:

The “whistleblowing” site (it really isn’t, but I’ll get to that in a minute) is releasing excerpts from a cache of some 250,000 diplomatic cables and other documents. These cables were sent from various American embassies back to the State Department between 1966 and 2010. The leaks have been dripping out since November 28, revealing a whole host of tawdry but so far trivial tidbits of American diplomatic behavior.

None of the “secrets” revealed by Wikileaks are really secrets: They’re mostly confidential appraisals of the U.S.’s allies and rivals; much of it is gossip, or merely pedestrian—demonstrably so:

Of the 251,287 documents Wikileaks has obtained, 134,000 are outright unclassified; 102,000 are classified “confidential”; and 15,652 are classified as “secret”. Source is linked here, confirmation is linked here.

None of these documents are classified “top secret” or higher—anyone claiming that they are “top secret” or that they “put lives in danger” is at best exaggerating, and at worst lying.

The reason none of the data Wikileaks acquired was “top secret” or higher in its classification is because the data in question was accessed through the SIPRNet system (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) that the U.S. government has set up. This is a sort of parallel internet for the Department of Defense and the State Department. Three million people have access to SIPRNet, which by design handles at most “secret” documents. Material rated “top secret” or higher in the classification scale use a completely different system, accessed by far fewer individuals.

So the latest Wikileaks “revelations” are actually not particularly important, in and of themselves.

More than anything, they have been embarrassing—such as the acknowledgment that American officials cast a blind eye on rampant Afghani government corruption; that Saudi Arabia has been clamoring for the U.S. to attack Iran just as loudly as the Israelis; that Hillary Clinton directed American diplomats to spy on United Nations delegates, up to and including gathering their credit card, e-mail, and “biometric” information.

But none have been important, or have offered some startling surprise. The three most important “revelations” were already well-known facts: That al-Qaeda and other Islamic radicals are funded by Saudi Arabia; that Yemeni government missile strikes on al-Qaeda training facilities in that country were actually carried out by the American military; and that China’s government had indeed executed the “hacking attack” on Google between June 2009 and January 2010, which eventually drove the company out of the country.

In diplomatic, military and cyber-security circles—and not particularly elevated circles at that—these “revelations” were as well known as the truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

What is important about the latest Wikileaks release is the reaction these revelations have caused in the realms of government, media and corporate power in America—a collective reaction that I for one found startling, not to say frightening.

To me, it revealed a New McCarthyism that transcends mere party affiliation and ordinary political divisions, and glides off into a realm of hatred for the individual—an enforced moral acquiescence, whereby a truth spoken is a truth that must be shut up, regardless of the cost.

So I figured I’d find out all I could about Wikileaks, so as to understand what the hubbub was all about—and understand my own reaction.

The Origins and Rise to Prominence of Wikileaks

As soon as you start looking into Wikileaks, you come across the name Julian Assange, the 39 year-old “official spokesperson” of the organization. If you look more closely, you start to realize that Julian Assange is Wikileaks, and Wikileaks is very much him: In outlook, priorities and modus operandi.

Julian Assange
Australian by birth, the child of divorce and a gypsy upbringing, Julian Assange has that pasty-faced expressionless Nordic look of a cruel and steely-eyed English barrister who got buggered senseless in his upper-crust public school—or maybe an inscrutable Euro-trash arms dealer who obsessively plays baccarat up and down the Côte d’Azur. In other words, he is an adventurer, but a cypher as well.

He first gained prominence as a teenager in Australia in 1991, when he was arrested for computer hacking, managing to carry out some fairly sophisticated hacking of Canada’s Nortel. But according to The New Yorker (in a long and detailed profile of him that I highly recommend), the Australian judge concluded there was no aim of lucre or vandalism on Assange’s part: “There is just no evidence that there was anything other than [a] sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what’s the expression—surf through these various computers.”

This was indeed the case: Before his arrest, as a 16 year-old, Assange had joined up with two other hackers in Australia to form a group they called “The International Subversives”. (Before we laugh, let’s remember all the stupid clubs we invented for ourselves when we were sixteen.) The stated goal of this little cyber-treehouse club was to break into corporate and government computers and see what was in them, without stealing or hurting anyone.

(What I personally find very interesting—and reminiscent of my own teenaged misery—is that Assange wrote detailed and formal rules for this band of cyber-pranksters. This urge to impose structure and order on the self—while at the same time trying to subvert structure and order in the world outside the self—is very much a divorce-baby’s metier.)

The other aspect of Assange’s biography that bears mentioning is a terrifically long and bruising custody battle over his child, which turned from a legal fight with his child’s mother, into a legal fight with the Australian state, which for various bureaucratic reasons was unresponsive to Assange’s custody appeal, excepting a pitched legal battle.

Out of this traumatic experience, Assange seemed to develop the idea that Left vs. Right, Rich vs. Poor, and other such old-fashioned political dichotomies were missing the point: It was the bureacracy/corporation versus the individual.

From these two strains—computer hacking, and fighting a large bureaucratic power—one could not predict, but could certainly explain, how Assange got the idea to create Wikileaks around 2006.

It was without question his idea, and he was the prime mover behind the site. Though he was helped along the way, Assange was the architect of Wikileaks, wrote the basic code, and developed the security system. At various times, various people have helped Wikileaks; some have even been on staff, some of them even being paid—

—but at the end of the day, Wikileaks is a one-man band: Julian Assange is the band leader.

Wikileaks was up and running by late 2006—but like all sites, it lacked the crucial ingredient:

Content.

With no content, he could not show that his Wikileaks site was worth submitting anonymous material to. Without content, his site was like a bright and shiny new used-car dealership—but with no cars.

He got his content the old fashioned way—by stealing it from thieves. To be more precise, Assange/Wikileaks noticed that a server they had access to was being used as a node for the transmission of various governments’ data—and this node was being hacked by some Chinese hackers, for reasons unknown. Therefore, Assange/Wikileaks leached on to the Chinese, and hacked what they were hacking.

This was how Assange landed the first batch of Wikileaks content: In December of 2006, they could claim that they had “over 1,000,000 government documents”, which was technically true—and some of it was almost interesting.

But it’s import didn’t matter: With this first batch, Wikileaks was off and running, accreting more data by the very fact that it had accumulated a lot of confidential government data.

This is what apparently drew Spc. Bradley Manning, a homosexual Army intelligence analyst, to pass along a trove of some 90,000 Army documents to Assange/Wikileaks, including battlefield video. (As of this writing, though people seem to suggest Manning is the source of both the 90,000 Army documents and the additional 250,000 State Department cables, it is unclear if that is truly the case, or if there were two or more separate leaks. For purposes of this discussion, it’s irrelevant.)

Screen captures from “Collateral Murder” (click to enlarge):
Top left, Reuters reporters and other Iraqi civilians, talking.
Top right, the group comes under fire from Apache gunship.
Bottom left, men fleeing. Bottom right, men all dead.
Certainly one of the videos Spc. Manning provided—“Collateral Murder”—was the most chilling, and created instant controversy around the world: Released in April 2010, the video shows a 2007 incident where an Apache helicopter gunship killed a group of Iraqis, who turned out to be Reuters reporters. Two children were also severely injured in the attack by American soldiers. 

This video put Wikileaks on the map. 

I won’t give a Greatest Hits recitation of Wikileaks’ various coups between the time it started and the “Collateral Murder” release. I’ll limit myself to pointing interested readers to this list in the UK Telegraph, recounting the most memorable Wikileaks exploits. 

However, for all their exploits—some of them quite amusing, such as their leaking the confidential British military manual outlining how to prevent Wikileaks from publishing confidential material—Wikileaks is not really a whistleblowing site. 

It claims it is a whistleblowing site—a claim which is the basis for its entire effort at self-promotion. But it soon becomes apparent that Wikileaks doesn’t want to call attention to malfeasance per se: Rather, Wikileaks just wants to reveal secrets—the bigger the better, the more embarrassing the better. 

I say this because Wikileaks has consistently published confidential material that in and of itself did not serve the purpose of opening governments to greater accountability, yet which hurt individuals egregiously. 

For instance, there was the case of Wikileaks revealing the e-mail data and personal photos of Sarah Palin—but that was merely juvenile. 

Far more serious was the release of the confidential Belgian police report which named a potential suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation, as was the release of the names of local Afghans assisting American forces in their occupation of that country: These revelations exposed these individuals to harm, but certainly did not advance the cause of government openness, or highlight any particular injustice.

In the above cases where individuals were harmed by Wikileaks’ revelations, criticism by Wikileaks’ allies led it to begin conscientiously redacting the names of individuals from future document dumps.

This reaction to its allies’ urgings, rather than Wikileaks itself moving to strike the names of blameless individuals who would come to harm because of these revelations, goes to show a moral blankness of Assange/Wikileaks:

He/it did not recognize what was bad about releasing information about a private individual, even someone as deplorable as Palin. The information was simply released with an eye to maximum media impact, but without a corresponding eye towards the morality and goodness of making the information known. 

This goes to show what Wikileaks’ is really interested in: It doesn’t want to blow any whistle—it wants a world without secrets. And it wants to make sure the world knows that Wikileaks is the reason the world has no secrets. 

This reflects a hacker’s worldview—which should surprise no one, of course, because that’s what Assange is: A former teenaged hacker.

Who Assange is, and what his organization, Wikileaks, really is—a hacker’s site, not a whistleblowing site—inevitably creates tensions with people who genuinely are appalled by the behavior of the Western democracies over the last ten or fifteen years.

In a case like “Collateral Murder”, Assange/Wikileaks’ hacker’s mantra of No Secrets coincides perfectly with the political goal (such as my own) of open democracies that are truthful and reliable, no matter how bitter the truth or the political cost of discovery.

I want to know of incidents like those shown by “Collateral Murder”—because I want to know what crimes my government has been committing in my name, and how my government has been deceiving me. I want to know these bitter truths so that I can (through democratic proxies) prosecute the guilty, assuage the suffering of the innocent victims, and ultimately make a better state for both myself, my family and my children.

But from a morally blank hacker’s point of view, the titillation and horror of the footage of “Collateral Murder” is not a means to achieving some political goal—the sensory rush of the footage is an end in itself. From the hacker’s point of view, the whole idea behind releasing something like “Collateral Murder” is to bask in the glow of people’s reaction to the footage—but nothing more.

These two conflicting points of view fit together perfectly in the case of something like “Collateral Murder”: Where the hacker’s interest ends, the democratic moralist’s interest begins.

A true whistleblower—a moralist trying to improve a democratic society’s systems of government by way of public release of confidential information which highlights failures of that government—is what Spc. Bradley Manning is: He gained access to information that conclusively proved crimes and misdemeanors carried out by government agents and covered up by that government, and sought to release that information to the wider public.

Bradley Manning is the true hero of this entire situation—and he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison: A fate which should haunt every American’s conscience.

Why? Because Manning had no other motive than goodness and justice. He released this information at great risk to himself, with no desire for publicity (obviously), and no possibility of recompense. His only motive, clearly, was so that people’s sense of injustice would be so outraged by the footage and documents that they would demand of their government some accountability—some semblance of justice.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks—because of their hacker’s mentality—were interested in maximum impact.

They’re very good at it, too: Maximum impact.

Assange very shrewdly got himself to the big time by way of his rather brilliant strategy of releasing new information that he has developed: A strategy of media exclusivity—ironically the exact opposite of the openness Wikileaks claims to seek.

It all has to do with information—and how it is presented. 

The internet is much like the sea: If I were to take a diamond the size of a fist, and place it on the surface of the ocean, it would sink without a sign, and no one would ever know it had been there.

But if I take a banana, put it on a neon-orange dinghy in the middle of the busy Sydney harbor, then fire flares into the night sky hour after hour, while blaring fog horns nonstop, what will happen? Why, in no time at all, I’ll get a huge crowd, all of them jostling one another to catch a sight of this marvelous banana, amazed by it as if they’d never seen one before.

Same with information on the internet. 

Rather than simply dumping tons of documents into the internet ether, and have its impact dissipate like smoke, Wikileaks has selectively released documents and material to a few high-profile, indisputably serious mainstream news sources in different countries. In the case of the State Department cables, Wikileaks gave simultaneous exclusives to the New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel, France’s Le Monde, Spain’s El País, and the UK’s The Guardian

This plays to the media outlet’s vanity, giving them an “exclusive” in their home country (which is the market they care about), while insuring that the material will be released, and released prominently: If, say, the Times had failed to publish the material, the other four would likely have published it, garnering the media glory. The editors at the Times would know that—so they’d have no choice but to publish the material, and publish it prominently. 

This is, of course, what Wikileaks wants: There’s no point in outing a secret if nobody hears that it’s been outed. 

But like the banana released to hoopla in the middle of Sydney harbor, in the case of the State Department cables, this very clever media strategy has had the effect of making trivial and unimportant “revelations” have a heft and weight that they do not objectively have—which makes the reactions to the latest Wikileaks document dump far more interesting:

The collective hissy-fit the American establishment is having is over things which do not matter

Remember that, as we survey the reactions to the State Department cable dump: As of this writing, none of the Wikileaks revelations from their cache are either unknown, or surprising, or revealing, or secret.

And so far, Wikileaks has not been charged with breaking any law.

“Part II—The New McCarthyism” will appear on Thursday morning. In that post, I will discuss the specifics of the government, media and corporate reactions to this latest release from Wikileaks; the sex crime allegations against Assange; and the legal fate of Assange and Wikileaks. 
GL

59 comments:

  1. I certainly agree that no revelation has been that surprising, but I do think it will have a strong effect on international diplomacy. Hopefully governments will be more careful in their actions, and not more careful in hiding them....

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  2. Of course no revelation is surprising , but the contents are still revealing. What would be surprising based upon the behavior of the US government over the last 50 years ? Nevertheless, documentation is important.

    Also,only like 5% of the documents have been released as of yet.

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  3. I really hope the second part will include the - probably most - important question - who funds them? I don't believe a man like Assange can live from airport to airport from donations (do you have any idea how expensive such a lifestyle is?)
    Webster Tarpley makes some interesting points in his videos (just youtube his name and Wikileaks) and Chomsky points out that all this non-relevant information dust coveres our eyes and we can't see the real developments - the cancer in Fallujah and the Mossad intervention in providing the Americans with faulty information on Saddam's weapons of "mass" destruction.
    What if Wikileaks really is just a front? What if this is just a way to trigger tighter internet controls?
    What i'm really - but really - sad about is the fact that Sweden and now Switzerland also play ball with the americans. It saddens me to see that there's really no place to hide anymore. Might as well stay and try to understand, then fight them.

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  4. Sadly it will have the effect of Governments sealing off the internet if it can possibly do so!I wish it were otherwize

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  5. "Wikileaks ... wants to make sure the world knows that Wikileaks is the reason the world has no secrets."

    I am all for a WORLD without any secrets, but how many Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian secrets has Wikileaks outed? Any?

    What if " ... the political goal ... of open democracies that are truthful and reliable, no matter how bitter the truth or the political cost of discovery," leads to a rise in non-democratic states?

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  6. Thanks for the post. Ironically, it is the morality-free hacker mindset that Assange brings to his sexual life that may ultimately be his undoing. The moral of that part of the story line is that if you want to bring down a Superpower, you should probably keep your pants on.

    I think you nail it on the head in noting how our government has over-reacted to the nothingness of these leaks. What it shows is that our politicians and Assange are really birds of the same feather. While Assange is in it just to bask in the glow of the attention and to let it stroke his ego, our politicians live and die for their "legacy." They want to be seen as important and to make their place in history and so their personal ego and image has become the god of their life. The ultimate act of blasphemy against this worship of self-importance and self-image is humiliation.

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  7. I tend to agree with GL as to Wiki and have been interested in the "leaks" too. I have tried to be objective,disliking Assange at first. I don't particularly see his motives as pure but his info is telling. I eventually lost respect for GL's objectivity, though, when he referred to Palin as "deplorable". It's not I'm going to go out and vote for her, you snide writer, but there are a significant number of Americans who share her dislike of government the way it is run. And I think you believe that Assange is slapping the face of these guys like me. You come across as nothing more than a left wing stooge who can't recognize his allies because he is so enveloped in his ideology.

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  8. Wikileaks may be part of a plan to create a crisis in order to open the door for internet controls. Access to real news via the internet is the one detail that was not properly factored in as the masses are marched toward a new order. It's our only remaining hope and we'd better take it seriously.

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  9. The fundamental trend in place since 9/11 has been toward the enslavement of the human race. You can see that this trend is accelerating and things are not looking good for the populace. What will it take to reverse this trend? I wish I knew.

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  10. A world without secrets? I don't think that will ever happen, nor do not see any reason why it should. We have to deal with a lot a bad characters in the world and secrecy is just part of the game.
    As far as Manning is concerned, he is a traitor and should be hung. Just because he is a clueless homosexual with no profit motive does not excuse him for breaking his oath to his country. Treason is a serious crime and he should pay a very quick and public penalty for it.

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  11. "I am all for a WORLD without any secrets, but how many Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian secrets has Wikileaks outed? Any?"

    How about Israeli? Zippo.

    At least with the Chinese, there were the revelations about its attitudes toward the eventually unification between North and South Korea.

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  12. Is there somewhere else I can go to read this without the cloud background? I don't know what your intention was but the background is so irregular light/dark that I can't fucking read it and stopped about 1/4 of the way through.

    What the fuck were you thinking?

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  13. Politicians are devious and dishonest. They deserve to be exposed and embarrased. Keep "leaking"

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  14. I too wonder why Assange deems it necessary to "out" only American classified documents while the rest of the world escapes his scrutiny?
    He is no voice of freedom in the wilderness but a stunted wannabe looking to make a name for himself.
    I also find it sad that you qualify Manning as the "true hero" When did it become heroic to give damaging classified documents to anti american interests?
    Assange has accomplished one thing and one thing only, and that will be the policing and government control of the internet unlike anything we have seen to date.

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  15. I find it very interesting that a Soros connected attorney is in this mix. Part of the Soros funded Open Society Institute. The non response of the Soros puppet in the WH to this whole affair, using Hilary, Holder as the spokespersons is also interesting. Also consider that it wasn't until a TBTF bank was threatened that the heat and the rhetoric escalated. The magician makes you focus on one hand while the other does the deed.

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  16. What is so clear is when it was military documents, Obama was HO HUM. But when it got down to some of the much worse things in his admistration. It was an outrage.

    JPW

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  17. To the anonymous coward that wrote this:

    Anonymous said...
    A world without secrets? I don't think that will ever happen, nor do not see any reason why it should. We have to deal with a lot a bad characters in the world and secrecy is just part of the game.
    As far as Manning is concerned, he is a traitor and should be hung. Just because he is a clueless homosexual with no profit motive does not excuse him for breaking his oath to his country. Treason is a serious crime and he should pay a very quick and public penalty for it.

    I invite you to re-read the preamble of the Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    The US govt continually takes our liberties in the name of 'making us safe'. It is this Govt occupation of foreign lands and warmongering since the end of WW2, the last legitimate war, that is making us unsafe.

    The govt will go to any and all lengths to preserve itself. It is the medias job to make the govt honest. No 'top secret' cables were released by Manning, only refreshing truth.

    Its the responsibility of those whose views are in line with those of the writers of the Declaration above to do anything to throw off the chains that this government shackles us with...what part of 'That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government' dont you understand?

    At least have the courage to use your name when you write such drivel. At least we know whom to laugh at.

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  18. GL - brilliant as usual! I've been torn on the whole Wikileaks issue, a balancing act between traditional patriotism and the fact that I identify with Assange's sentiment of government/corporations vs. individuals. You put in writing what I've been thinking, much more eloquently that I could hope to accomplish.

    Realizing someone's motives is always as important, if not more so, than what they are actually saying.

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  19. GL -

    It is obvious that the administration had no motivation to go after Assange with the first two sets of leaks because it made Bush look bad. But the recent leaks have now made "The One" and Hillary look bad. Even worse, he's threatening to release info on Bank of America, and that could really make the administration look bad given that the Fed is giving financial support to BofA and other banks doing, more than likely, the same as BofA is.

    I could not disagree more with your comment about Sarah Palin. She is not deplorable. YOU are deplorable for making such a snarky comment. I thought better of you. I guess I was wrong.

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  20. I would recommend not propagating the regime's fearmongering.

    No one killed as result of first two Wikileaks releases, U.S. admits
    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/29/3217875/no-one-killed-as-result-of-first.html

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  21. Assange has written a good deal about his theories. If he is still following them, then the content of the leaks doesn't matter -- what matters is the fear of leaders and apparatchiks of governments / authoritarian conspiracies that their internal communications may be exposed. This is supposed to throw sand in the gears of the conspiracy.

    I would have disagreed with Assange until last week, until the violent and hysterical response of the U.S. and other governments, including death threats and illegal DDoS attacks. Based on my experience with large bureaucracies, I would expect them to have internal gateways and filters which mimic those they erect against the outer world. The present response suggests otherwise.

    I think the tack will now be to draw the attention of the public away from Wikileaks to such pressing subjects as Swedish condom protocol. This ought to work with Americans, anyway, who by and large have a strong puritanism-pornography streak.

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  22. In the "Collateral Murder" video, the "Reuters reporters" were embedded with armed insurgents during an ongoing battle. This is rather like when Hezbollah murdered an Israeli soldier on Israeli soil (but on the side of the border fence facing Lebanon) and "Reuters reporters" just happened to be there to document the event.

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  23. I liked the part about a divorce-baby's metier.

    I believe Assange wants all people to be held accountable for their actions - a world without secrets, for a better world. In interviews he often quotes America's Founding Fathers.

    But I got what I love most in your articles - the meatiest facts of the matter. Thank you!

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  24. "Bradley Manning is the true hero of this entire situation—and he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison: A fate which should haunt every American’s conscience.

    Why? Because Manning had no other motive than goodness and justice. He released this information at great risk to himself, with no desire for publicity (obviously), and no possibility of recompense. His only motive, clearly, was so that people’s sense of injustice would be so outraged by the footage and documents that they would demand of their government some accountability—some semblance of justice."

    Are you nuts?

    Bradley Manning is a homosexual with a radical agenda who did this because he's pissed off at the military because he can't flaunt his homosexuality. Check out his own blog, dude!

    And every time someone says "mathew sheppard!",
    I'm going to say "bradley manning!"

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  25. I trust Assange when he says that his group is trying to release the documents quickly. And I would argue that the creation of "maximum impact" is necessary for Assange to grow his site and tempt more people to make the same as sacrifice Manning. This is mere speculation, but I feel as though Assange hates the fact Wikileaks cannot thrive on its own with merely the interest of its users pulling it forward. If he is anything like the divorce-baby I am, he hates the way the limelight works, but understands that it is necessary to understand and manipulate it.

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  26. Normally I hang on every word you write, GL. And I agree with your assessment of Assange and his group. But the video "colateral murder" could just as easily be called "colateral cluster-fuck". Seems I remember the debate when it first appeared, and using the word murder implies it was not an incident of panic and/or battle fatige. Shit happens under pressure, sometimes, that is bad. Anyway, it sounds as though you have found the parties quilty of murder along with Assange. And Palin is more "deplorable" than who in Washington?

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  27. Everyone on Earth wants honesty, we want the truth, and we need transparency.
    At present there is too much corruption in every element of Government.
    Be that the Military, Police, Politicians, Business, all are involved in some kind of corrupt malfeasance.
    Knowing the truth will set you free. It might not always be pleasant, and is often painful, but ultimately offers a sense of enlightenment.
    I for one would wish to know that the country I offer my allegiance to was involved in War Crimes that it embarked on secret missions that killed innocent people in the so called “War on Terror”
    I would also like to know if the policies my Government embarked on were flawed.
    Hopefully Governments and the people who represent them will now be held accountable for their actions; it is the fear that you may be caught that offers any deterrence.

    I believe Wikileaks could become the primary source of information that scores to expose those who indulge in corrupt misdeeds.
    Wikileaks should be to Governments, what TMZ is to Stars.

    Quote: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

    As GL pointed out, these revelations are not overly important or sensational, but have some impact in the greater scheme of things.

    It begs the question—can our Governments be trusted with important matters?

    I for one would like to know...

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  28. Gary G said...

    Great article. I've recently sent a donation to Wikileaks. I'm also going to donate as much as I can to the defense of Bradley Manning as well if only to piss off cowards like 'Anonymous' on here and trailer-park-trash, Fascists like Palin.

    (I added my own name because I don't use any of the profile sites)

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  29. When I have seen Assange interviewed I see someone that is testing the limits of the truth. I find the points people here making about WikiLeaks bringing about greater control over the internet a reasonable concern.

    By the way, divorced children are forced to learn difficult truths about human complexity early on. With all the children expected to soldier the disfunction in the world, I have to wonder when will the adults? We need more truth.

    And the reason Sarah Palin is deplorable is because she looks like a beautiful, independent woman (like me) but sounds like Newt Gingrich. It's a bad combination.

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  30. My reaction to Wikileaks has been: What is all the fuss about? All the guy did was reveal that our "honored leaders" are just as, if not more, petty than the rest of us. Personally, Vietnam woke me out of my high school fantasies resulting in viewing government/military as a bunch of incompetents acting like grownups. I applaud Wikileaks and hope he can continue. In fact, I'd like to see some deeper stuff just to confirm my worst suspicions.

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  31. You need a link to print the article without all the comments, the sidebar advertising, and the background picture.

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  32. I sometimes wondered why Hillary was was seldom in the news since she became Secretary of State. Here was this same person that once had such a terrific record as a commodities savant, apparently gagged at opening her mouth on worldwide concerns. I had no idea she was allegedly trying to traffic in credit card information on the rich and famous. I am very perplexed by this revelation. I haven't heard her 'splain this Lucy. I want to thank Wikileaks for filling in this gap on why she may have been kept under wraps.

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  33. Great article, through and through.

    And hats off to the commentator Fred, I'm shocked so few people take that stance, and so few voice these words:

    "I want to know of incidents like those shown by “Collateral Murder”—because I want to know what crimes my government has been committing in my name, and how my government has been deceiving me."

    Ok then, so why is everyone so hush-hush about this?:

    What In the World Are They Spraying?

    http://www.viddler.com/explore/Drewsick/videos/24/

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  34. Free Julian Assange, he is the man.
    Nothing much new has come out in the new set of leaks, but the public reaction of the US government is all we really need to see what they really think of democracy and freedom. Okay when it comes to trying to stir revolution in Iran but not in the West.
    Hopefully people will be be able to see through the constructs within Western media and see the relaity.
    In a way its good that this is happening maybe now we can have a more public debate about internet freedom before congress closes it down by destroying web neutrality by stealth.
    Which could very well happen in the next few weeks. An event that will be discussed by no one until it is too late.

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  35. What I am trying to figure out is what Gonzalo's purpose is here in doing the amateur hour Sigmund Freud act and subtly Napalming Julian Assange? In the piece, he basically pidgeon holes him as a Juvenile Hacker who spent too much time in Prep School getting reamed by Upperclassmen, emotionally scarred by a custody battle, yadda yadda. What relevance does any of this have to McCarthyism? WTF CARES what JAs motivations are here? Do I care if he is doing this just to exorcise some personal demons, or to become famous enough to dip his wick into Swedish Models? The important fact is that he put up a website designed to leak out information which would at the very least embarass Goobermint Officials, and hopefully if he is lucky enough to get something REALLY good bring down the organizational system of Goobermint he despises. The more Famous he gets, the more likely it is he gets something really good. So why is it a bad thing if he is a shameless self-promoter? At least if you accept the principle that the more information that gets leaked out here, the better anyhow.

    At the very least, he has demonstrated that the wall of secrecy can be penetrated here, although at least so far we haven't got a Smoking Gun on the level of Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers. Hopefully, his actions will inspire other Juvenile Hackers to pull the same stunt. If he wasn't good enough to hack into the Squid's e-mail files, maybe the next hacker will be. The nformation obviously is not going to come out into the light of day if we depend on the MSM to ferret it out, that ain't gonna happen.

    Let's face it folks, generally speaking most outrageously smart computer geeks are not exactly "normal" people. That is WHY they spend their time in mom's basement trying to hack into secure databases. Nobody "normal" is going to spend 18 hours a day in front of his laptop doing this kind of shit. Hopefully, Julian Assange inspires a new generation of Geeks who spend their time playing the Wii and a more intriguing and worthwhile game, "Grand Theft Goobermint and Bankster Secrets".

    As for Julian, maybe he ends up disappearing off the map here, incarcerated for whatever gets cooked up here, and Wikileaks gets shut down. If his "Insurance Policy" isn't good enough and he went into it with too little Ammo, big mistake on his part. The next Geek should learn from those mistakes.

    RE

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  36. The author of this article is totally disingenuous. Wikileaks does not wander around town taking photos of people having sex in their bedrooms, or any other abuse of individuals. What Wikileaks does is - expose the nature of the predators who hide behind the fictions known as "governments" and "corporations". These are "fictitious entities" that provide cover for modern-day hyper-predators, and they are destroying the world and enslaving mankind. This is extremely clear to anyone with their eyes open and half a brain functioning.

    Essentially, Wikileaks implicitly identifies the problem - that the world today is a stage upon which predators-gone-wild are utterly destroying and enslaving mankind, while hiding behind the curtain provided by these fictions. And so Wikileaks exposes the goals, natures, agendas, and modus-operandi of the predators who hide behind the curtain of these fictions. So yes, Wikileaks is indeed defending individuals from these monsters (governments, corporations, and the predators who they serve and cover for).

    Perhaps Wikileaks could do its job better than it does. It would be amazing if anyone doing something relatively new, as they are, managed to figure out the best technique from day one. But that's not the point. The author of this piece is doing the bidding of the predators, either with full knowledge, or through some petty personal motivations, or foolishness.

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  37. PDS strikes again out of the blue for not much purpose... (Palin Derangement Syndrome)
    .
    Your quote ...He/it did not recognize what was bad about releasing information about a private individual, even someone as deplorable as Palin.
    .
    Want me to send you some sexy pics of our Sarah ... ?

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  38. Saw this, blackmail?:

    "WikiLeaks ’struck a deal with Israel’ over diplomatic cables leaks
    from indaybay.org

    According to new revelations, Assange had allegedly struck a deal with Israel before the recent ‘cable gate’, which may explain why the leaks “were good for Israel,” as the Israeli prime minister put it.

    According to an Arabic investigative journalism website [2], Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.

    The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.”

    Webmaster’s Commentary:

    Live by the whistle blow, die by the whistle blow!

    Assange is running an extortion racket with the information real whistleblowers send to him!

    Please copy this link everywhere you can! Especially rub the corporate media’s nose in this one, as they are accessories."


    And then there's this:

    Wikileaks Helps”War On Terra” Expand To South India

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  39. Interesting read on the other outcome of Wikkileaks:

    Wikileaks Helps”War On Terra” Expand To South India

    http://mindbodypolitic.com/2010/12/06/wikileaks-aids-war-on-terra-extend-to-south-india/

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  40. A very interesting perspective that I don't think can be completely discounted.

    Since the revelations have thus far been far less than truly harmful secrets, it seems entirely plausible that this whole media storm could be an intentional cloud with an ominous agenda. I suspect that there will be a huge push by the U.S. to enact legislation and guidelines that will enable the gov't to shut down and criminalize behavior that is not desirable to ???? (put in any puppet master you like).

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  41. This post is worth reading, and gives a better insight into Assange's motivations:
    https://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/julian-assange-and-the-computer-conspiracy-%E2%80%9Cto-destroy-this-invisible-government%E2%80%9D/

    Simply put, he wants to eliminate secrets so that information will become so closely guarded that conspiracies cannot form.

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  42. Hey, This is GL's personal blog ... there ought to be no expectation of "objectivity". He says what he says. That's why I subscribe.

    Gonzalo has done an excellent job of placing this WikiLeaks drama in a different context that we are being fed by would-be pundits, that of an "Uber-Hacker" at work versus "The Whistleblower". What GL does is to point out how governments (and the Elite minions) treat Truth To Power with a sheer ruthlessness not shown other so-called "leakers".

    "It’s only when you poke the beast that you get a sense of its true nature."

    Gonzalo's post pulls back the curtain to reveal not an impotent old geezer called the Wizard, but a raging and snarling monster who goes by the terror-filled name of National Security.

    And yes, in retrospect, I'd bet that Gonzalo would have had second-thoughts about the prejorative remark about Mrs. Palin ... (maybe!).

    As for me, I'll wait for tomorrow's follow-up before making up my mind, not jump to conclusions as some have done.

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  43. Throughout the different layers of context comprehension, intention assessment, personal labeling / classification, and even irrespective to the classical tool, patsy, asset nominatives. We find the rather uncommon features of this Nordic robo looking/acting like subject. Besides the conundrum created around this wiki hysteria, we observed the planned Reaction precisely executed by the Structure to render an effective Solution to the Problem presented by one individual and his alter ego. it is remarkable to observe the global reaction of silence and passivism to his prior explicit postings counterposed to the global diplomatic support, activism, and even justification to the American extracurricular, pseudo-diplomatic “activities”. In an open society the natural reaction to public outrage is transparency and regulation. However the closer the society the lesser the public / mediatic outrage and the Skinner the Reaction. More is to come, expect more weapons of mass Disinformation that will reveal the extent of the national and international confabulation.

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  44. Interesting view points GL, pretty revealing
    actually. Won't belabor previously expressed views, but I have to admit that while I'm totally fed up with the "present" US Govt., I still have faith in our military and feel that it may well be our salvation at some point in the not too distant future. As for Manning, I hope he is hung by the neck until dead and that it's broadcast on CNN, FOX and all other media outlets. No excuses about his homosexuality or anger at who/what ever -- he's a traitor.
    As for Palin, she just plain scares the shit out of the establishment because she's not an insider. In fact, she's just the opposite, she's open, honest and refreshing. Whether or not she's politically viable remains to be seen, but I love it when she scares the hell out of those who continually trash her. Our system needs a good shake up and she's a shaker, like her or not.
    My feeling is that Assange/WikiLeaks may have seen their 15 minutes of fame, such as it is. While I disagree with the manner in which all of this was done, perhaps some good MIGHT come out of it if his actions wake some people up as to what our govt. has become and changes are made.

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  45. "Julian Assange has that pasty-faced expressionless Nordic look of a cruel and steely-eyed English barrister who got buggered senseless in his upper-crust public school—or maybe an inscrutable Euro-trash arms dealer who..."

    I strogly object to this type of garbage surface characterisation. You may be trying to be amusing but you are just trying patience. I stopped reading at that point, will avoid your website in future and turn of Finanacial Sense Newshour next time I hear you being interviewed.

    Unless you wish to engage in an all out, mud-slinging match about the relative intelligence and value of Nordic or Northern Europeans versus Chileans and their ilk.

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  46. To those who say that Bradley Manning should be hung - perhaps he should be. Perhaps he is a traitor, a true patriot, or just a disgruntled faggot, like some of you want to portray him as.


    As for me, I remember the words of one of our great founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson - "The tree of liberty must, from time to time, be refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion; what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."

    I fear that the selfishness of the American people will lead to the demise of that. It's heartening to see that some people are still interested in keeping our government accountable, even at the cost of their own lives.

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  47. When Bradley Manning signed up for the armed forces ... he took an oath to protect his country and the US Constitution. I can understand that he may feel that releasing some doc's was an act of conscience - but where exactly does he get off by releasing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables?? He has violated his oath, and will probably spend the majority of his life in jail.

    Julian Assange might qualify as an "internet underdog and info-hero" - if he had stuck to the original premise of releasing important information in an unbiased way. But as numerous people here have noted ... Mr Assange is focusing on the USA with the apparent intent of doing as much damage as possible. Why on Earth would he release a list of potential "targets" in the USA that could be of assistance to criminals and terrorists? This serves no intellectual purpose - except a mad-dog desire for vengeance. In my view, he seriously undermined his own credibility when he took this step.

    Despite the furor about the State Department cables - most of the information borders on "absolute drivel". There is very little there that could not be deciphered from published news stories - by someone with half a brain. I feel very sorry for the people in the State Department spend huge amounts of time wading through this low-level muck. If anything, US diplomats need to work a lot harder at sifting through the diplomatic chaff and sending a few gold nuggets to their bosses in Washington DC.

    Anon

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  48. Well, as long as it keeps the publics eyes away from the real issues, like balancing the budget and fixing the financial system. Like the hubbub of building a mosque on manhattan and the burning of the Koran by some mad priest... They're great ways to keep the publics eyes focused on stuff that doesn't matter, that way government won't have to deal with the real issues...

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  49. Hola Gonzalo, Lo de wikileaks ya no es mas noticia, al menos que suelten el articulo-prometido de los bancos americanos; Al margen de eso ya todo el mundo se actualizo.

    Seria mas interesante que escribas sobre la ultima movida de Obama, aceptando el plan republicano.
    Lo que a mi parecer, se trata de un "Stimulus-package" disfrazado con la escusa de los desempleados, y cortes extendidos para la clase media.
    Cosa que dicho plan nunca hubiese pasado en el senado republicano, bajo el nombre de "Stimulus"

    Atentamente, un lector.

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  50. George Soros and Julian Assange use the same LAWYER. (Mark Stephens) Is it possible that this is funded by Open Society Foundation?

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  51. The government reaction is not at all surprising. The US has been moving towards a police state ever since 9-11. What is happening in the US is its slow transformation into a 2nd tier country: it is being bilked by Wall St. Wall St. and government are becoming one and the same, with a nicely financed Pentagon to assure the outcome and continue the quest of strategic global domination--over 1,000 bases spread around the world.

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  52. Although I may have my own opinions about the circumstances of Collateral Murder, and Wikileaks in general, I think the blog captures a fair and well established POV.

    However, what catches my eye is the simple statement, "even someone as deplorable as Palin." Deplorable? Really? Worthy of severe condemnation or reproach?? Although I am not a defender of Ms. Palin, nor even necessarily a fan, calling her a deplorable person defies the logic and "fairness" that your blog posts hope to represent. Instead, you come off as petty and partisan.

    Ideas, actions and even results are hardly ever clear cut. Recognition that others can have differing POVs without being evil is key to democratic societies. Your label of deplorable is exactly what's wrong with political division these days. You should be ashamed of your choice in words.

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  53. "The US has been moving towards a police state ever since 9-11. "

    You clearly have no experience with actual police states.

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  54. For those who enjoy pointing to Manning as homosexual, that has nothing to do with his leaks. It may well be the repetitive negative reaction to his normal homosexuality that motivates him. (In case you're wondering, it's not normal for homos to lust after women just as it's not normal for heteros to lust after men, unless you're bisexual. Stuff that in your sex-phobic pipe & take a deep drag.)
    Thank you Fred for the Preamble refresher. It says all we need to know very, very well. 60% - 70% of the comment on WikiLeaks would be irrelevant if preceded by that Preamble.
    I agree with comment that Palin is deplorable, not because I know her directly, but because she ran with Senator McCain, a flip-flopper trying to be everything to everyone during his campaign. She was riding his coattails to give herself exposure, & exposed how shallow she is.
    To Anonymous who claims Assange is an extortionist, who is his victim & what has he extorted? I refer you to the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
    To another Anonymous, how does keeping silent protect one's country & constitution if it's part of a coverup of high crimes & misdemeanors? Example: President Obama is Commander in Chief of the armed forces assassinating Pakistanis & others via remote-controlled flying, robotic drones over Pakistan.
    There's nothing patriotic about that & it's much worse than Watergate, which forced President Nixon from office. Manning is more patriotic than those who go along to get along.
    I refer you too, to the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

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  55. Private Manning is a juvenile delinquent who, not understanding how adults operate, decided to throw a wrench into the gears and see what happens when gears grind. I do not ascribe any constructive motive to his deliberate acts of treason.

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  56. Er, it's mildly interesting that Bradley Manning is homosexual, but is that entirely relevant?

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  57. Manning is no more guilty of treason than Obama is and Obama is guilty of treason. Our constitution is being used for the bottom of the bird cage and has for a long time, long before 9-11. Secrets are necessary in this world but if more than 1 knows it then it is not secret. The reality is that we are being lied to by our government and will be protected to death.

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  58. It never fails to surprise me how people can support WL revealing government lies while at the same time still believing their own governments' spin. There can be no other explanation for the suggestion that WL are/have focussed on bringing down the US government, when in fact, until Manning sent JA the golden disc, only a small percentage of the material published by WL related to the US government. The suggestion in as nonsensical as the Swedish prosecution timeline is suspicious.

    My understanding of the point of releasing the Palin emails was that she was sending work-related messages, in violation of public record laws. JA has also admitted they made a mistake by not redacting names from the Afghan cables, hence the recent cables being released in trickle feed with names redacted in some cases. I don't think these actions are significant enough to warrant dismissal of the content or accusations of terrorism, do you?

    Bradley Manning obviously felt strongly enough that the US government was deceiving the public about the motivation, intention and progress of the Iraq/Afghan wars to risk his life. Having released that material, you can hardly cry foul about any media trying to make the most of the information. I agree that the cables aren't exactly shocking, but suggesting that media outlets optimizing their impact is anything other than business as usual is silly.

    JA is not interested in a world without secrets and has said as much in interviews. He understands the need for secrets. I think what he is looking for is a world without lies and deception, particularly where these lies are concocted in defense or obfuscation of power mongering (US Govt cables, Kenya report etc) and/or profiteering (Julius Baer Bank leak, Kaupthing Bank leak).

    Anyway, a good article nonetheless. I hope Thursday's is a little better researched.

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  59. Great work...Pls disregard those who try to stifle your commenters whatever their biases or "hates." Most of us understand how to separate the serious from the addled and will swallow the bitter for all the sweetness of free speech our laws once allowed. Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater may provoke a stampede but willful words should not impede your basic truth--or theirs when they are correct, albeit crude.

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GL