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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks turns over a rock and they go scurrying

If the government cannot be entrusted to protect our privacy (and not let AT&T off the hook for illegal wiretaps), then invading their privacy attains a moral imperative, making leakers like Bradley Manning into heroes. Those who whine about disobeying orders or breaking the law would apparently think the Nuremberg Defense legitimate as well. Corruption in government is far worse than the risks to National Security, because the cancer from the inside is far more insidious than those on the outside. If you can't trust your government, then how can you trust them to protect your security any more than you can your privacy?

Hillary Clinton says, "Wikileaks acted illegally," eh? Boo hoo. AT&T did too, assisting with spying on US citizens, and got immunity. Don't like invasions of your privacy? The shoe's on the other foot now, isn't it? The rest of us don't like it much either, but Wikileaks has at least levelled the playing field a bit for the time being. Let's see how they like their dirty laundry aired a little bit, since they seem to have no problem rummaging through anyone else's, including the American peoples. You reap what you sow.

Oh, and why should you care, unless you've got something to hide! Hypocrites...

Many of the comments I've seen out there on the web attached to news blogs & stories serve to show a rather stunning ignorance of the facts.

There are a few things to note here. Wikileaks is merely a publisher of information provided it by independent whistleblowers looking for a way to get information out to the public. The only difference between Wikileaks and the New York Times when it received the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg is that Wikileaks has chosen to focus strictly on whistleblower information rather than being a comprehensive news outlet like the Times. While there may be some argument about different standards of care applied to the information, I think that's rather splitting hairs.

From the response of some, it would appear that they would have expected Julian Assange to, once given the leaked US government information by Bradley Manning, looked at the data and decided, "well, I like the US government, and since this stuff is embarrassing to them, I'll just pretend we didn't get any of it." Or perhaps they would want Assange to turn the individual over to the US government for prosecution (secretly of course, because otherwise the story would get out that interesting documents were leaked to Assange and he chose to betray the whistleblower instead of publishing the information, an act that would totally undermine Wikileak's reason for existence). Assange is not a US citizen, and since you have to be a US citizen to commit treason against the US, talk of traitorous acts or prosecution for treason is pure ignorance.

While no doubt the US government would LIKE to control Wikileaks, mainly because they are extraordinary control freaks (and in control of what is said to be a FREE country, I might add), I hate to break it to you, but there ARE some things in the world that the US government should not be able to control. Wikileaks is one of them, possibly even one of the most important if not THE most important one. Given the responses here, one wonders just how corrupt a foreign government would have to be (remember, the US is a foreign government to Assange) before they would applaud someone who would stand up and say something about it. To some it seems, the US government could be infinitely corrupt, but no one should ever say anything about it. Of course, out of the other side of their mouth, they've probably made disparaging remarks about either presidents Obama or Bush, and would not hesitate to repeat whatever scandalous information they possibly could about them.

In this case, whistleblower Bradley Manning released the information to Wikileaks. What you might think of Manning and his act is pretty much a separate issue from Wikileaks. Wikileaks job is to make leaked information available to those who are interested. Manning IS a US citizen, but historically, it is pretty darn rare to get a conviction against a US citizen for treason when the act was releasing information to the public instead of just to the enemy (when you release information to the enemy, only the enemy knows there's been a leak, an important difference). However, if there is a case for such a conviction, this one could come close-- for one thing, Manning was active military (there's that Nuremburg Defense again), his leak wasn't particularly selective, targeting not one particular abuse but essentially, shining a light on the whole system. Makes individual indiscretions look tame in a smokescreen of, "everyone is doing it, it's all just business as usual, nothing to see here."

But in my opinion, there are two notable facts that show us that the US government is either uninterested or totally incompetent about protecting the privacy of US citizens (and by extension, their security). The potentially life-threatening leak through Dick Cheney about CIA operative Valerie Plame for political reasons, AND the fact that nothing was done to Cheney or any of his staff because of it. And second, the fact that when AT&T was caught illegally wiretapping US citizens, and they were given immunity. With both of these facts, essentially both parties of the US government were in agreement for the most part (with a few exceptions). And with these facts, it has been made clear that you just don't get privacy anymore in the US (if anyone ever did). But what is less obvious, but I believe also true, is that the US government itself, doesn't get privacy anymore either. Certainly, they gave up any moral right to privacy they had with those two actions (letting both Cheney and AT&T off the hook for invading the privacy of US citizens). It's clear that any laws regarding protections of privacy in this country are pretty meaningless, but that cuts two ways. In that context, I consider what Bradley Manning did, absolutely heroic, and I am willing to extend him the moral immunity, equivalent to letting Cheney and AT&T off the hook for their indiscretions. Essentially, what Manning did was the inverse of what AT&T & Cheney did, and based on that, I think the US government got exactly what they deserved.

It remains to be seen however, what might happen to Manning. Or Assange for that matter. Fortunately for Assange, if he were to suddenly turn up dead, no matter who was actually responsible, virtually everyone would be sure it was a US black op of some kind. And in fact, you can see that what is going on there is not that anyone is going after Assange for creating Wikileaks or anything having to do with Wikileaks, he's being chased after for some kind of alleged sexual indiscretion. While I'm sure the US government would like to make an example of both men, I suspect it will be tricky to deal with Manning as well, due to the history of prosecutions of this type in the US. Best just to keep him quiet, so he doesn't become any more of a celebrity right now, eh?

So now they're trying to spin how it's all boring stuff, that Assange is a horrible sex offender of some kind (because they have absolutely no case regarding spying or treason or the like). And they're shocked that many people see Bradley Manning a hero. They should have thought of that before they let Cheney off the hook for the Valery Plame leak, and AT&T off the hook for illegally wiretapping US citizens. And, before they allowed the level of corruption to grow to the extent it has. They gave up any right to privacy when they did all that. If you can't trust your government to respect your privacy, why should you respect theirs? If they are either uninterested or incompetent at protecting your privacy, then by extension they are uninterested or incompetent at protecting your security as well, and you should know exactly what kind of shenanigans they are up to.

Assange asked for help on editing and was refused it. I don't know what will happen, but he won't serve any time for the security situation, that is why they are trumping up the unrelated charges, because they know it's not treason in the US if you're not a US citizen. And they'd do the same thing Assange did if it was some guy from China passing them all of their internal emails. To Assange, the US is a foreign country, a powerful foreign country that has shown itself to be corrupt, to disrespect its own citizens privacy. If you disagree, are you telling me if you were to learn about some corruption of Kim Jong-ll, that you would keep it quiet out of what-- respect for the internal operations of a foreign country? Just what was Assange supposed to do? Figure that since the US is the saviour of the free world, that he should keep mum when someone hands him a goldmine of evidence of internal corruptions? Puh-leez.