How Denial Works: Library Of Congress Blocks Wikileaks

from the head-in-the-sand dept

So the latest in the US government sticking its head in the sand over Wikileaks is that the Library of Congress has blocked access to the Wikileaks site, claiming:


The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.

I don’t know how to put this any more diplomatically, so I’ll just say it straight up: this is stupid. This is pure denialism. We’ve seen it before, such as in the Al-Haramain case, where the government accidentally leaked evidence of warrantless wiretapping, and the information was widely available… but everyone involved in the case had to pretend it wasn’t available. It’s stupid.

And that’s what’s going on here. Rather than admitting that the content released by Wikileaks is available all over the damn internet while also being widely reported on in the press and elsewhere, the Library of Congress pretends that blocking access to Wikileaks actually does something. It does not. It just makes the Library of Congress appear to be in denial. If the Library of Congress was actually serious about blocking access to classified information, it would also need to block all of the torrents that contain the cables, the scores of media outlets reporting on this and highlighting the documents and the thousands of other places that are also offering up the documents. But that’s (of course) impossible. Which is kind of the point. Why make such a symbolically silly move and claim that it’s because you’re “obligated” to block such content. How hard is it to admit the reality of the situation, rather than pretending it’s something different? I don’t know about you, but I would prefer that my government responded to the reality of what’s going on, rather than pretending it wasn’t going on at all.

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Comments on “How Denial Works: Library Of Congress Blocks Wikileaks”

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129 Comments
RandomGuysays:

This is from the same government that asked Wikileaks to ‘return the documents’.

The governments of the world are made up of people whom the internet caught by surprise. The rules have changed to the degree that a small group of people have caused a superpower (are we still calling America that?) to trip over itself in confusion.

Unfortunately, events of the last few years have led me to believe that the halcyon anarchist days of the internet are numbered. For every Wikileaks, there’s an ACTA, COICA or internet filter in the works.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

Just because other people break the law doesn’t mean that you should also ignore the law. The fact that the Internet may make some laws easier to break doesn’t invalidate the law.

Asking for the return of documents is a ‘lawful’ thing to do – who knows, maybe Wikileaks might have decided that they didn’t want to publish them – they’re not ‘whistle-blowing’ documents, just a dump from some government archive.

And when was the internet ever ‘anarchist’? Or are we equating anarchy with the ability to easily circumvent laws generally for a financial gain e.g. sharing music, games, etc.?

PSsays:

Re: Re:

Asking for the return of documents is a ‘lawful’ thing to do

Asking them to “return the documents” shows a complete lack of knowledge of how the internet works. Once it’s been published, countless others have already copied and archived the documents. Even if Wiki-Leaks took the content down, it’s still being distributed and has taken on a life of it’s own.

It’s like asking the original seeder of a torrent to stop sharing the file well after many others have started seeding themselves.

Richard Kulawiecsays:

Re: Re:

You don’t really get why we built the Internet, do you?

It wasn’t so you could play games or surf porn or shop.

It was to promote the sharing of information, knowledge and culture without regard to governments, laws, or borders. As should be obvious to you, many people fear that: we see them here in the comments quite often. They’re scared because they know that their power and their wealth are at risk: their ego and their greed are all that sustain.

But many people do not fear it: they welcome it. They understand that governments are temporary, laws are transient. They are constructs devised by societies to serve a common good, and they are by no means the exclusive ways to do so. Sometimes they’re replaced in part; sometimes they’re replaced in whole. What is happening all around you is some combination of the two. And it’s inexorable: it won’t be stopped by puny governments and mere laws, because it’s being driven by the people — a billion of them, some of whom are the government.

What people are slowly figuring out is that when they can connect to each other and share information, they don’t need governments or record companies or movie studios or newspapers or anyone else to be involved. Every day, in a billion ways, they’re coming to the realization that while some of what these entities do has value, much of what they do is obsolete. And these entities know it too: and they are afraid. You can smell the stink of their fear every time the MPAA publishes something, every time Joe Lieberman speaks about Wikileaks. They know their time is over and that they face extinction.

Were they more intelligent, or less greedy, or less power-hungry, they would go gracefully. But of course they’re not: instead they’re trying to stop the inexorable and in the process, they’re doing considerable damage. They are — to harken back to the subject of this thread — in denial.

It doesn’t matter whether you (generic you, not you personally) call it illegal information leaking or anarchy or illegal file sharing or piracy or anything else: I’m not sure there actually is a valid term that covers what’s happening, because it’s never happened before. But it is going to happen, and anyone standing in the way will be crushed. (That’s a feature, not a bug.) Companies are going to fall, governments are going to fall, and the world will change.

But we’ll be fine. Knowledge empowers people, it levels the playing field, it enriches society. And when the dust settles in a different-looking world, there will be other companies, other governments, other structures. And I hope, I really do hope, that it’s a world where the enormous gap between between the ultra-powerful and the horribly repressed, the disgustingly wealthy and the miserably poor, has been narrowed. A lot.

Chargonesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

indeed. designed to be decentralized and able to rout around damage in the event of a nuclear attack. amusingly, it’s that second feature that’s causing all the headaches, because the userbase has collectively decided to treat censorship of any sort by any party as damage…

working Entirely as designed… though not necessarily as intended ^_^

Richard Kulawiecsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, it wasn’t.

The ARPAnet was built in part as a communications tool for the DoD and associated agencies. And while it’s certainly true that much of the Internet can trace its lineage back to the ARPAnet, that’s not the only progenitor.

Two of the other ones are Usenet and CSnet. The former can be loosely defined as “the set of sites accessible via UUCP”, the latter was an attempt to facilitate communication between computer science researchers. Both were experiments in networked communication, much the same way as the ARPAnet was. And while both have gradually been subsumed into “the Internet”, there are still some components of each around. (e.g., the NNTP protocol).

This may seem a bit like hair-splitting, but I don’t think it is. The Internet can be distinguished in part from the ARPAnet because of the difference in purpose, and structure, and control, and constituency.

Travissays:

lol internet. cannot be controlled there is already software to connect my network to my neighbors and to his neighbors etc.
In theory could build a wide world web just with that, barring the service providers altogether, run phone calls through that and phone companies collapse over night, free net and phone for everyone!!!

JCsays:

I realize it's silly, but...

They do have an obligation to follow the law, though no one seems to mention which law they are following.

Is everyone here suggesting that they ignore the law and become an independent operator from the government?

The article at TPM also deemed it significant to say that Thomas Jefferson “donated” his personal library to the rebuilding of the LoC, but that it wasn’t an actual donation. It was a sale. I’m not sure I follow the significance of this point.

darrylsays:

asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.

Amusing, its clear you really hate that state, but its equally clear you cannot find any fault with the logic, the law, or actually what they said..

Thats why we all of a sudden get the classic statements.

“this is stupid”

“This is pure denialism”

“we’ve seen it before”

No Mike, perhaps you can tell us what you think is stupid about that statement made by congress ?
What in that statement is not fact ?

Is it the past where they say they are bound by law to protect their secrets,

Or, is it their statement that even if information is released it does not change its security classification ?

Or, is it the fact that free speech does not protect government generated material ?

They post a statement, stating that the law requires them to do this, so that is what they are going to do.

The statement was addressing Wikileaks and its hosting of classified material, that has been determined illegal by the library of congress (like it or not)..

Allright Mike, why dont you put yourself in their position, and word that statement as you would have preferred they state it !!!..

And ofcourse, if you think that is all they will do again, you would be sadly mistaken.. If that material becomes available and publically available from other sources, I bet they can expect to be closed down as well…

Would you like to take that risk for your bit torrent site ?

BTW: Forget wikileaks, it was nice while it lasted, but it no longer exists. world wide by the looks of it.

You dont kick the US Government in the balls on the world stage and expect to get away with it, with a pat on the back.

And he’s kicked alot more bals that just the US Gov.

And it was not their lack of technology that led to the leaks in the first place, it was a result of criminal activity.

The information was stolen, by a person, not by a technology, or lack of understanding thereof.

Talking about stupid, what is stupid is making a hero out of someone who’s only intent is to make your entire country look stupid and dumb.

And he’s your hero, shame you could not pick someone who is smart and capable for your hero adulation.

Instead you choose to make an australian your hero, and someone who is not even game enough to enter your country.

for your hero, an Aussie, who hates the US, who makes you look stupid, and you accuse the government of being in denial !!!! go figure..

The eejitsays:

Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

Wrong on all counts.

1) Wikileaks is being hosted in the YEMEN. Yes, that Yemen.

2) The LoC is not, in and of itself, bound by law. It is a library of all major documentation in the US’ History.

3) IS it a hero who stands up for the masses? IS it a hero who stands up for the ruling elite, in order to maintain a state of corruption? What is a hero?

4) so you want to close down the Internet. Try it, and get back to me on how that’s worked out for China.

Tell you what: When the KGB are more honest than the CIA, you have a problem.

Lancesays:

Re: Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

To make a statement like your closing line of “When the KGB are more honest than the CIA, you have a problem”, indicates a monumental lack of knowledge about how agencies like these work. If you think either of them function with honesty, beyond that which is enough to make dupes think they are somehow acting in an honorable way, then congratulations, you have graduated to the head of their dupe class. If I were you, I would expect an application to join one of the education camps soon. The moniker eejit does seem to fit your thoughts, at leat in this particular case.

vitruviansays:

Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

“And ofcourse, if you think that is all they will do again, you would be sadly mistaken.. If that material becomes available and publically available from other sources, I bet they can expect to be closed down as well… “

So, you think they will block or close the sites for the New York Times and the Guardian as well? Doubtful.

tomsays:

Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

Wikilieaks does not make americans look dumb. The US diplomatic corps seemingly have done a great job – being very accurate in all their assessments, including our (UK) government. US Foreign policy looks pretty poor, but we knew that. Foreign government sall look like a bunch of tin pot dictators – but we knew that too. its just nice to see the diplomatic corps being truthful – its hilarious.

Marcel de Jongsays:

Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

I’m not going to respond to all your points, but this one was the most amusing one of all:
“BTW: Forget wikileaks, it was nice while it lasted, but it no longer exists. world wide by the looks of it.”

Wikileaks has, at this moment, more mirror sites all over the world than ANY site in history ever had. It no longer exists? Hardly, there are a lot of people who are hosting (not just linking) and frequently updating their copy of the Wikileaks website.
Just to name three:
http://wikileaks.nl
http://wikileaks.2600nl.net
http://www.powned.tv/wikileaks/

and there are many more.

Oh yes, Wikileaks is dead, in your dreams.

Anonymoussays:

Streisand effect

All these over-reactions are playing directly into Wikileak’s hand. Notice that for every over-reaction, more news are being generated. It is being discussed everywhere. People who would never have heard of Wikileaks before now will know all about it, having read about it every single day since this started, even on the mainstream media.

I wonder if this all was Assange’s plan from day one. Instead of dumping all the cables at once, he is releasing them drop by drop, leading to a mad scramble by the people who want to stop him. This time pressure leads them to over-react. And the over-reaction generates drama, which puts Wikileaks on the spotlight.

And also, these over-reactions put Wikileaks on the victim position. People tend to root for the underdog, so Wikileaks becomes some sort of hero.

albisays:

Head in the sand is right…

Instead of taking the hit and adjusting procedures, changing systems, and perhaps instructing their diplomatic staff to write a bit more professionally, the US Govt engages in revenge, pure and simple.

Not fooling me, that’s for sure. I have less, not more respect for Uncle Sam because of this revenge.

The LOC must have been forced by some Uncle Sam lawyer to do what they did. It never ceases to amaze me that many of these lawyer types seem to live in a parallel universe, where laws of nature are suspended, or perhaps they think that the rest of the universe is waiting for lawyers’ orders.

The cat is out of the bag. Done. More careful next time.

Adam Wassermansays:

Re:

Well, not so much a question of more careful.

The thing that not enough people are talking about, and that our government does not want you to know, is that this entire thing – the leak of all 250,000 diplomatic cables – are 100% because the USG and US Army lied.

It was an incredibly unnecessary and stupid lie, and all of this noise and panic would absolutely not be happening if that lie had not been told.

What happened is: in 2007 a US Army helicopter killed two Reuters war correspondents because they mistook a video camera for an RPG launcher.

What they should have done is say: “sorry we blew up your correspondents, here is what we do to make sure that happens as little as possible.

Instead what they did was deny deny deny. Lie till you die.

War corespondents assume the risk of getting killed. The other people killed were walking around with AK-47s or standing next to someone with an AK-47. I feel they also assumed the risk of getting killed. I deplore the fact that a good Samaritan with two children in his van were also blown up, but they also assumed a little bit of risk when they drove into a fire zone with 30mm cannon rounds exploding all around them and the helicopter clearly still circling overhead.

So there really was no compelling reason for the army and the government to lie and deny about this. So why did they?

Because it was easy. Because they are to used to lying all the time about all sorts of things and getting away with it. And every American citizen should be concerned when their army and government are so used to lying that they do it even when there is absolutely no need.

Finally, an intelligence officer was so disgusted by the needless lies, that they leaked the gunship footage, and once they started leaking… this offer felt that somewhere in the 250,000 was more evidence of government lies. At the current rate of release, we may not know for sure for a few years if the intelligence officer was correct, but one thing is clear:

The leak was triggered by an egregious, totally unnecessary lie by our government.

So it is not a question being more careful. It is a question of being more truthful.

Adam Wassermansays:

Cooled off

You know what: I apologize.

I felt very insulted that anyone would think I was was in any way OK with the injuring of innocent children (and aren’t they all), and I lashed out in anger. And was not making a lot of sense.

Now that I have cooled off, let me just say: sorry you understood it that way, that is most certainly not how I meant it.

Adam Wassermansays:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah. my mistake. I see now that I used the word they. I had used it as a gender neutral singular pronoun since I am unaware of the sex of the driver. You assumed that I was using the plural pronoun.

So I withdraw my accusation of lack of basic reading comprehension.

Instead I maintain that when provided with an ambiguous sentence structure, you chose the less generous interpretation of the two, and that means you mind is in the gutter.

Good luck with that.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

War corespondents assume the risk of getting killed. The other people killed were walking around with AK-47s or standing next to someone with an AK-47. I feel they also assumed the risk of getting killed.

Armed body guards are common there. The guards are actually to reduce “the risk of getting killed”. That doesn’t make them “the enemy”.

RBSplatsays:

Are you kidding me

Everyone one of you would probably be up in arms and demand that cyber bullying, that results in the suicide of the victim, should be taken down and the offender prosecuted. You would applause anyone that blocked, removed or in anyway stopped the offending material from being displayed! AND cyber bullying isn’t even illegal.

Come one people it is either illegal or not illegal and if anyone facilitates the commission of an illegal act they have some culpability in the illegal activity.

Saying that the government should change so that they are not afraid of wikileak’s is like saying the person being bullied should change so the person committing the bullying would have no reason to bully them.

Pixelationsays:

Re: Are you kidding me

“Everyone one of you would probably be up in arms and demand that cyber bullying, that results in the suicide of the victim, should be taken down and the offender prosecuted.”

Um, are you suggesting the US government will commit suicide?

“Come one people it is either illegal or not illegal and if anyone facilitates the commission of an illegal act they have some culpability in the illegal activity.”

What Yemeni law did Wikileaks break?

“Saying that the government should change so that they are not afraid of wikileak’s is like saying the person being bullied should change so the person committing the bullying would have no reason to bully them.”

That would certainly help for someone being bullied.

Don’t you worry, the US government will do their best to censor the Internet. Scratch that, they have already started. I think the thing that many people here fear is that the government will use this as an excuse to expand their powers like they did after 9/11.

vivaelamorsays:

Re: Are you kidding me

“Everyone one of you would probably be up in arms and demand that cyber bullying, that results in the suicide of the victim, should be taken down and the offender prosecuted. You would applause anyone that blocked, removed or in anyway stopped the offending material from being displayed!”

Is this your first visit to Techdirt? Mike has written consistently in support of free speech on such issues and I would bet that many regular commenters agree with him, as I do. So, nice straw man. I think you have ‘everyone’ of us confused with a flawed stereotype.

“Saying that the government should change so that they are not afraid of wikileak’s is like saying the person being bullied should change so the person committing the bullying would have no reason to bully them.”

Saying that the government should change so that they are not afraid of Wikileaks is like saying the person getting bad reviews for their standup performance should change so the reviewer would have no reason to give them bad reviews.

I can think up random similes too.

Aerilussays:

Re: Are you kidding me

no i would say that the person who committed suicide/government needs to grow up and stop worry about what other people think and i am not just saying that because of the anonymity that the internet offers. It is amazing what a good parallel that is though comparing the government to a self-conscious anxious teenager who is worried about what everyone else thinks about them

Anonymoussays:

Re:

I think that the “so many” that have their panties in a bundle mainly constitues the Main Stream Media.

Main Stream Media have done a rather poor job of covering the US government from about Ronald Reagan on. The mainstream media has absolutely failed to inform the US public of what goes on in national level politics, who the players are, and why they’re players.

In a cute l’il phrase, they’re servile lapdogs to authority.

Wikileaks shows the main stream media for what it is: a tool of the corporate and political elite. That’s why Wikileaks is so publicly reviled. It’s in the interest of the mainstream media to have them, and anything like them, reviled, maybe even criminalized.

The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

The Law is the Law. Just like that. Government agencies have to abide by law. It’s easy to criticize from the outside.

There are plenty of mechanisms to change the law, and if that happens, I’m all for it. More transparency is great. But that transparency should be achieved through due process. Just because we like the result of someone’s actions does not mean that they have done the right thing.

TDRsays:

Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

Apparently there’s a concept you haven’t quite understood. It is not wrong to ignore an unjust or unreasonable law. Or do you think Rosa Parks should have just obeyed the law and stayed in her part of the bus? Just because something is a law doesn’t necessarily make it right or worth obeying. The people will decide, through their own mass obedience or disobedience, whether a law is just or not.

Anonymoussays:

Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

Who defines “due process” you, me, the government?

Transparency never came out without a fight this will be no different.

Some people even started shouting “We need to kill those people now!” is that due process you were looking for?

Politicians embarrassed angry because they are not using security assets to murder people who disclose their flaws is due process?

Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

The Law is the Law. Just like that. Government agencies have to abide by law. It’s easy to criticize from the outside.

Ok, if “the law is the law,” then why didn’t the Librarian of Congress also block the other sites offering up these documents? Or the news publications reprinting many of them? That’s the point. It’s not so easy to just say “the law is the law,” because these documents are available all over the place. Simply blocking Wikileaks isn’t them obeying the law (because the content is still available). It just looks like a silly move of pretending they’ve obeyed the law.

That’s the point.

luxsays:

Re: Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

“Ok, if “the law is the law,” then why didn’t the Librarian of Congress also block the other sites offering up these documents?”

So which is it Mike: if they block access from just the Library of Congress, and leave other sites accessible, it’s called denial – and if they actually did block access to those sites from within the Library of Congress you’d complain it was censorship.

I’m starting to think you really can’t be satisfied with anything.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

So which is it Mike: if they block access from just the Library of Congress, and leave other sites accessible, it’s called denial – and if they actually did block access to those sites from within the Library of Congress you’d complain it was censorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

Marcel de Jongsays:

Re: Re: Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

There is a third option that you failed to mention, understandable, as it doesn’t fit in your argument against Mike.

The LOC could have done nothing. No blocking of Wikileaks (and any of its mirrors) and no blocking of newspapers.
That way they have an air of levelheadedness, acknowledge that the papers are there, instruct the users that they really shouldn’t be reading those documents, as they are still classified, and go on about their day.

Re: Re: Re: The Law Is Not What We Want It To Be

So which is it Mike: if they block access from just the Library of Congress, and leave other sites accessible, it’s called denial – and if they actually did block access to those sites from within the Library of Congress you’d complain it was censorship.

Wow. What an incredible false dilemma you present there.

How about they don’t block access, admit that the info is out there, and deal with it that way?

I’m frankly amazed that so many people think that the world should pretend these documents somehow aren’t available.

Yeah Rightsays:

This disease has to stop

Nicole Thompson, a spokesperson for the State Department had this to say on the matter: “To talk about current events is one thing. But to go into detail, and propagate information that was illegally obtained?I don’t think that’s a good move for anyone. Not Julian Assange, not Wikileaks, and not any U.S. citizen.”

I am simply lost for words. I’m a European, so perhaps I’m not really understanding the subtle meaning of her words correctly here. But I cannot comprehend that you, as Americans, are fine with statements like these.

Please realize that, if you do not act now to stop this madness, in a few years time the “friendly advice” of this woman will be legislated and you will be breaking the law if you discuss whistle-blower details.

Adam Wassermansays:

Re: This disease has to stop

You are not missing anything.

The attacks on free speech, and the attempts to legitimize prior restraint, have been going on for years, are strongly supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and form part of a sustained attack on the Bill of Rights that is the keystone of the class war that has been going on in America since at least the late 1980’s.

Anonymoussays:

Re: This disease has to stop

I cannot comprehend that you, as Americans, are fine with statements like these.

Do you like the following statements better?

?Remarks on Internet Freedom? by Hillary Rodham Clinton,
United States Secretary of State, at The Newseum in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2010:

?.?.?.

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world?s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to our Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.

Franklin Roosevelt built on these ideas when he delivered his Four Freedoms speech in 1941. Now, at the time, Americans faced a cavalcade of crises and a crisis of confidence. But the vision of a world in which all people enjoyed freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear transcended the troubles of his day. And years later, one of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, worked to have these principles adopted as a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They have provided a lodestar to every succeeding generation, guiding us, galvanizing us, and enabling us to move forward in the face of uncertainty.

?.?.?.

Yeah Rightsays:

Re: Re: Re: This disease has to stop

Fine words, but when it comes to actions the State Department seems to suffer from collective amnesia.

You know, what strikes me most about this Wikileaks riot is this. Globetrotting Hilary and a lot of commentators, on this blog as well, are apologizing for, or commenting on, the brutal honesty of the diplomatic analysis.

Am I the only one thinking that’s the one thing she needn’t be apologizing for? True, some of the comments are stereotyping cheap shots. But it is not the contents of these cables that have angered me – the questionable tactics, realpolitik if you want, of the USG abroad have been suspected or known by many. And of course, US is not alone in this.

What I find so objectionable are the public speeches and statements of the government. They are full of good intentions and democratic values, but are completely at odds with the reality revealed in the cables.

Wanting to spread American values such as peace, freedom and democracy around the globe is immensely commendable. But this seems to manifest itself only as pure national interest. And that interest is commercial, first and foremost.

Peace means defense contracts. Freedom means the freedom of US companies to exploit the global marketplace. And democracy means that the richest can write the laws. All of this is covered in a security blanket that is intent on the detailed real-time lifetime tracking of every person on the planet.

To me, that is why the USG is now preventing government employees and soon all Americans to read these cables. Apparently the government seems to think that a lot of Americans believe those speeches are a reflection of the governments actions.

Adam Wassermansays:

Freedom means the freedom of US companies to exploit the global marketplace

Actually, I would say that – at least in this context – Freedom means the freedom of the US governing elite to lie and deceive whenever they wish, without any consequences.

It is completely un-American in the more traditional sense of what it is to be American.

Anonymoussays:

It seems to me that an important is being lost in all of the rhetoric. It is because of the First Amendment that persons in the US are able to engage in this debate.

We as a nation are far from perfect, but I much prefer to live here and either support or castigate WikiLeaks than to live under a regime where such discussions would be foreclosed entirely.

Re:

We as a nation are far from perfect, but I much prefer to live here and either support or castigate WikiLeaks than to live under a regime where such discussions would be foreclosed entirely.

But that’s kinda the point, isn’t it? The gov’t seems to be doing whatever it can to foreclose such discussions entirely. It’s demanding that sites with the content take it down, and telling people not to talk about it.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

I have not read anything suggesting that the USG is initiating action against anyone other than whoever within government sent the information, and the principal at WikiLeaks.

The person who sent the information is, of course, “toast”.

The principal has his neck in a wringer. While the wisdom of the USG pursuing him so can be subject to vigorous pro/con debate, this matter is entirely of his own doing, and may very well prove to be his undoing.

Re: Re: Re:

I have not read anything suggesting that the USG is initiating action against anyone other than whoever within government sent the information, and the principal at WikiLeaks.

Oh come on. Are you playing dumb? While it’s true that the US has not initiated any specific legal action against anyone but Pfc. Manning, it has spoken out and put political pressure on lots of others. You act as if that’s perfectly fine when the US gov’t issues threats to private companies if they don’t block certain forms of speech, so long as they don’t file actual legal charges.

You can’t be that naive.

abc gumsays:

One of the more idiotic statements being made by politcal pundits in the US regarding Julian Assange is that he should be tried for treason and executed. Obviously, there are a few problems with this.

1) He is not a US citizen and therefore is not subject to its laws. He can not be tried for treason by the US.
2) The sentencing demanded in that statement assumes a particular outcome of the trial which can not take place. A bit presumptuous – no?

As a US citizen, I am embarrassed by such idiotic ramblings. Seriously, dont these people think before spouting such drivel?

Marcel de Jongsays:

Re: Re:

If Assange ends up dead, even if he died of natural causes for real, the US will be in deep shit.

And the senators and other public figures who have been asking for Assange’s head will look guilty of such an act, and will look bloody-handed.

(I suspect it would unleash Anonymous’ full powers, which is a very scary thought, a lot more scary than the repercussions of these leaked cables.)

JCsays:

Re: Re: Re:

It seems that both sides of this argument easily fall prey to the same level of hyperbole.

The US is powerless to prevent these types of leaks, along with every other government, actually. “Anonymous” is not really a force that has any government worried about any long term repercussions.

While this event has mostly fueled journalistic efforts, I feel confident stating that it’s really not affecting much in any of the truly secret things our governments do.

Marcel de Jongsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I didn’t mean it as hyperbole. But when senators are asking for the death of an individual because he published leaked documents, things become very scary.

if it’s not affecting much in any of the truly secret things the government does, why then are they up in arms like this? What are they afraid so of, that they don’t mind stepping on the first amendment for?

JCsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Calling for his death is what used to be called grandstanding. Currently, I think the popular term is ‘theater’. Like it, or not, politicians in the US have the same constitutional guarantees that any other US citizen does. It doesn’t scare me at all.

As to your second point, I don’t think they’re afraid. I think they’re embarrassed. While not an ideal situation, the damage caused by these leaks is not irreparable. I’ll reserve judgement on any first amendment issues by waiting to see if there are any challenges made in the courts.

Adam Wassermansays:

Re: frack...

I think there might be something you are not getting.

The American governing elite do not care if information wants to be free or not. Their actions are not based on an assumption that information wants to remain locked up.

Their actions are based on the fact a they believe that a stable democracy requires rigorous indoctrination. That stability is achieved through controlling populations, and you either do that with a gun, or you do that by boxing in the mind.

If you watch you can see the fluctuations between the two, sometimes it is physical force, sometimes it is mental.

The goal is not to make the cables disappear, it is to make it impossible for any intellectuals to do a fair analysis of the cables by making it appear “treasonous” to read and discuss them, and by threatening the academic career of anyone who tries to.

Anonymoussays:

One of the issues that must be addressed is are Americans willing to even fight a war.

Things happen in war, bad things, things that really can’t be prevented. The wrong people get killed, the wrong buildings get blown up, shit happens.

I think most Americans are so far removed from actually knowing what happens in war that it forces the military to hide things because if they came out, they would quickly lose any support that they have.

In WWII, a submarine sank a Jap transport ship, there were no other US ships in the area although there were Jap ships. The US sub surfaced and since they couldn’t take on the many Japs in the water and they didn’t want those soldiers rescued so they could go on and fight another day, they machine gunned them all. This was disclosed in a regular, over the radio report. That was expected, today that would be a war crime.

We are kidding ourselves, war can’t be made “safe” and people get killed, we can make it as clean as possible, but it is still a dirty thing. Most of the actual people fighting war are young kids, yet we expect perfection in times of great stress.

I am not saying that the two wars we are fighting are just or unjust, just how war is. If you have ever been shot at, you would quickly learn how easily how someone who is carrying an AK-47 would quickly be determined an enemy. You really don’t want to take the time to exactly determine that and give them a chance to point that AK at you. When its personal, you eliminate threats as quickly as possible so they don’t have the chance to eliminate you. There is no fairness, you don’t line up and draw, you eliminate threats.

abc gumsays:

Re:

“are Americans willing to even fight a war.”

Apparently our fearless leaders think we are. Have they ever even asked any of their constituents? Some of them even suggest the draft be reinstated. Seems the leadership is out of touch with the people – again. Possibly, their belief that the people endorse the many undeclared wars is based upon faulty polling – or they just don’t care what the little people think. Living in a state of constant war allows the gov much leeway and they become lazy and complacent when it comes to justification of rights reduction and removal. Wikileaks has shown the internet to be a powerful tool and there are those who do not like this, they thought they were in control.

Anonymoussays:

Adam, I disagree with some of your points. I don’t think the govt. is telling everyone not to read the information, or even saying that govt. employees shouldn’t read the information.

What I got out of it was that they were saying don’t use govt. computers and systems to look at the information. Have they buried their head in the sand and said the info doesn’t exist? Hardly.

Saying that you shouldn’t use govt. computers to view illegal information is only common sense.

average_joesays:

Re:

Adam, I disagree with some of your points. I don’t think the govt. is telling everyone not to read the information, or even saying that govt. employees shouldn’t read the information.

For what it’s worth, a good friend of mine is an officer in one of the armed forces, and he was told by his commander not to read wikileaks using any computer. I don’t know if that’s actually the official policy or not, but I thought it was interesting.

AC Vetsays:

@#89

Department of Defense computers are bocked from any online article containing the word “WikiLeaks” in the title, body or metatags.

Technically, if the information is classified “Secret” or above, your officer friend is obligated to secure it to the best of his ability and to report its unsecure presence to his security officer. Since neither s/he nor her/his security officer is able to secure the information properly, your friend is then in violation of a lawful order (e.g., secret information is not to be seen by those without appropriate clearance, and anyone noting such information in the clear is required to secure it) and punishable under the UCMJ.

So if s/he doesn’t read it online, s/he isn’t aware of its presence and isn’t liable under the UCMJ.

Aren’t military strictures just the bestest thing ever? Let’s get more lawyers into the mix — I can still see a few of those pesky individual freedoms here and there. What were those Founding Fathers thinking?

abc gumsays:

Re:

Do you read various news sources or simply watch Fox?

There were several news items in the past few days which quoted government officials stating that a students’ future employment with the government might be jeopardized if they read wikileaks. This is beyond ridiculous for many reasons.

So, no – it is not just gov employees being told what not to view upon gov equipment. That has been in place for years now. This is the us gov telling everyone their future is at stake if they read this stuff.

If you outlaw the truth, only criminals will have the truth.

btrussellsays:

“Assange claimed that his organisation contacted the US ambassador in London for information concerning the upcoming leaks – “what type of names they might have been concerned about, covert agents or other informants” – but that the US government refused to negotiate.

“That is something that has happened way back since April, that the United States government has refused to engage while stating publicly that it is concerned for the names of soldiers or other people,” he noted.”
http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=32176

befuddledonesays:

Its the law

I’m a federal employee and at our agency we have all been advised that under the oath we took when we signed on, we are obliged to follow the law. That means we are to NOT see or access documents that we are not authorized to see, or above our security classification. US documents on WikiLeaks remain classified despite their wide distribution and until they are declassified, we would violate the law should we go to wikileaks, even on our personal internet accounts. While prosecution may be a non-starter for people who violate this, I believe every federal civilian agency has blocked wikileaks to remain compliant with the law.

Yes it’s dumb and a catch-22 type situation, but you know how lawyers are!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Its the law

US documents on WikiLeaks remain classified

Not all of them. You probably did not look, but there is a “UNCLASSIFIED” section, with as far as I have counted around 3% of the content.

This is the list of classifications you can see on the sidebar:

Browse by classification
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
SECRET
SECRET//NOFORN
UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Anonymoussays:

I don’t really care that much because at the end of the day, the government is obliged to fallow where the people go, or they don’t get votes, if many people think Wikileaks is a good thing it will be there forever and there is nothing no government in the world can do about and that is the unvarnished truth the little thing they don’t want people to realize.

Besides Wikileaks is not the only whistle-blower website out there just look at Cryptome.

November 2010

tsa-body-spy.zip TSA Backscatter Body-Scan Radiation Safety FOUO November 16, 2010 (11MB)
fda-body-spy.pdf FDA Backscatter Body-Scan Radiation Safety November 16, 2010
gao-11-190.zip Terrorism Financing in Saudi Arabia (in Arabic) November 15, 2010 (952KB)
cslid-list-08.htm CSLID Shit List 8 November 15, 2010
tia-1118.htm Law Enforcement Access to Wireless LAN November 15, 2010

Ignorant_Slutsays:

Balance of Power....?

Legislative, judicial, executive and the internet.

What is the “poison pill of damaging secrets” that Assange is holding as a trump card if he is killed or imprisoned? If we are to believe that Assange does this to increase transparency and if Wikileaks is dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public, why is he holding anything back?

Isn’t that the argument of the diplomats? That certain things should be kept secret for the best interests of ________? (fill in the blank)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving Wikileaks, but does anyone else see a twinge of hypocrisy?

Loissays:

wikileaks

This is no different then what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico. That is being totally denied as well. We have a puppet government. It’s gone way beyond what is reality and what is fiction. The government is in denial, a greater portion of the people of this country are in denial. What do those of us that have eyes wide open do to change this?

Anonymoussays:

If a person commits suicide, how can they grow up?

One senator (a republican) stated that Wikileaks is a terrorist organization, although he also said that Charlie Rangel should be given a pass on his ethics violations.

The problem I have with Wikileaks is that it is just a dump. They receive documents and just put them up on the web without removing some identifying information. Of course, one has to wonder how they segment the documents without reviewing them.

Of course, Wikileaks has asked governments for help in removing identifying information and were refused, but Wikileaks could be a tad more responsible in what they do.

The govt. has always tried to stop leaks, Obama stated he wanted a leak free White House, nice goal, but it won’t ever happen.

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