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Wikileaks, The People

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 12, 2011 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

In an era of civil unrest driven by injustice and anonymous activism, you may already be a part of the revolution and just not realize it.

This image makes more sense
when you see the whole thing.

I find it interesting that the media forces behind the political movement in America that fancies itself to be somehow modeled after the protests of the Boston Tea Party are amongst the loudest voices proclaiming that the teachers, fireman, police officers and others who are protesting to protect the livelihood of the working class in Wisconsin are “rabid mobs of criminals and thugs”. I also find it interesting that in spite of plans for a “day of rage”, the Saudi Arabian monarchy managed to prove once again that the best way to oppress people is to tell them that God wants it that way. And in efforts to squelch information elsewhere, it’s likely that the appeal by the lawyers of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange will fail, and he will be extradited to Sweden, and later be snagged by the US government, in keeping with the Swedish government’s previous complicity in US-organized rendition and torture. One minor problem the US government may face is where to torture people like Assange now; the Egyptian protesters seem to have breached their favorite destination for torture. Not to worry though, they can just stick him naked in a cell with Bradley Manning if they have to, right? But these are interesting times, and I don’t think that these conventional methods are going to stop the slowly growing sense of injustice that’s spreading around the world. It’s becoming difficult to even keep track of where exactly the unrest is; this CNN summary covers much of the Mideast, but almost no media sources are talking about what’s happening in Portugal for instance. And aside from the public protests, there’s another interesting movement afoot. One that will be very difficult to target as an “enemy”, because it has no body, no face, no singular agenda, and no headquarters. I’m not only talking about hacktivists like Wikileaks and Anonymous. I’m talking about people like me, and maybe you. People who have enough common sense to realize that in almost every country in the world, the concern for collective well-being is no longer about which political party is in office, but which corporations own them. Hacktivists will obviously play a role for a while, but in an environment of protests, whistleblowing, and crackdowns against them, it will be hard to keep the facts straight. One recent example of this was when, in an hilarious variation on the ancient adage “if you meet the buddha on the road, kill him“, the American media was hoodwinked in a huge way about the nature of the amorphous internet group Anonymous. MSNBC recently interviewed a fellow who claims to be a “senior strategist and propagandist” for Anonymous, and even tech blogs like this one took the bait and ran with it. People seem to just eat this stuff up; one of the few sources you’ll find that questions the likely fallacy of this fellow’s claims is TheOtherMcCain.com. It doesn’t take a genius to piece together that a group of extremely intelligent anarchistic programmers probably doesn’t send their chain-smoking general to lay out their agenda on MSNBC. Another example is a recent Gawker piece that asks What Does Anonymous Have on Bank of America?, and then goes on to basically say “nothing”. But that you should watch for that nothing this coming Monday. Careful Gawker, remember what happened last time you got Anonymous pissed off. But I personally expect to see more unrest, and to see it fueled by the kind of leaks that can only happen via the internet. Regardless of whether you approve of the specific actions of groups like Anonymous or Wikileaks, or individuals like Bradley Manning, they’re going to affect you. It may be impossible to intentionally engineer a bankrun, but the seed gets planted in the mind, and when the dirt comes out on a politician like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, we’ll see more events like the bankrun by Wisconsin fireman against M&I. Anonymous may be more on the mark than we think with the slogan “none of us is as cruel as all of us”. Read the rest of this entry »

Media Whore Smackdown: WikiLeaks vs OpenLeaks vs HBGary vs Anonymous

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on February 10, 2011 by admin in Popular Media

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

vs Joe Lieberman vs Amazon vs PayPal vs The Banks vs… aw, never mind. In the end, the big star of this international cyberdrama is someone who doesn’t even have a HEAD.

Before attempting to bring someone to
their knees, you might take note of
whether or not they have a head.

I am a comment-trolling, link-baiting attention whore. Just thought I’d get that out of the way, lest you get the impression that the pot doesn’t know that it’s black. That being said, could someone please step into the kitchen and pop up some popcorn? I’m afraid that if I step away from the computer for a moment, I’ll miss something, and won’t be able to figure out who the villains and heroes are in the continually unfolding drama that began with WikiLeaks’ bold venture into international whistleblowing. By now we all know the smug, squinty-eyed face of the fellow named Julian Assange. He calls himself a journalist and author. Some people have other labels for him, like traitor, international security threat, or rapist. Or cat abuser. But regardless of whether you admire him, think he should die, or something in between, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he’s something of an egotistical attention whore. My personal opinion is that I can put up with that, provided it doesn’t destroy the positive aspect of his pursuits, which is the revelation of truths that the powerful think should remain secret. Because knowledge is indeed power, and when people who lust mostly for power try to sequester knowledge, you get things like a Nazi Party. Or a Kremlin. Or perhaps the Washington DC of the near future, if we’re not vigilant. Originally the only real star of the WikiLeaks Show, we questioned back in December whether Assange could handle the celebrity. This has become less of an issue, because if you’ve stayed tuned in, you know the show has come to rely on more of an ensemble cast. While big names like Lieberman, MasterCard, Amazon, and B-listers like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Moore had some interesting walk-ons, it was the relatively unknown Anonymous, from….well hell, we don’t know WHERE Anonymous is from, do we? In any case, in a surprise Oscar-worthy performance, it was Anonymous that became the hot new name in LeakyWood. First by taking down has-beens and also-rans like MasterCard/Visa, Joe Lieberman, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, PayPal and Amazon in defense of WikiLeaks, and more recently by taking down Aaron Barr and HBGary Federal (here’s a screen grab of HBGary’s site after Anonymous had hacked it), mostly because, well, Aaron Barr was a self-impressed dimwit who thought he could make a bunch of money with your tax dollars by partnering with banks and the US government in a secret plan to kill Wikileaks with FUD, and gain a lot of fame for bringing Anonymous to its knees. He really should have pondered whether Anonymous even has knees, I mean, the fact that they don’t have a head should be a bit of a warning sign. If you’ve been too busy following tweets about the block parties in the Middle East, or fretting over whether Lindsay Lohan’s dress was appropriate attire for pleading not-guilty on felony charges, you may have missed the latest episode of the WikiLeaks Show, which really was less about WikiLeaks, and more about the ignorant bravado of the CEO of a “security firm” (now there’s a double misnomer for you) who claimed that he was going to make Anonymous less anonymous. Well, that didn’t turn out very well, now did it, Mr Barr? Count me as one of the more enthusiastic new members of the Anonymous Fan Club. And I’m not just saying that because I know they could take down my site and the hosting company that hosts it with a few keystrokes and perhaps a little social engineering, but because they’re the only actors in this epic drama that can use the term “bitchslap” and still manage to keep it classy. After turning Aaron Barr out on the street like the bum that he seems to be, they called off the dogs when he started crying like a baby, and as his former employers tried to wave the white flag by patronizing them in chat rooms (“Penny” starts in around line 520), the only demand they made was “hey, why don’t you donate a month’s salary to Bradley Manning’s defense fund?” Nice touch, Anonymous. Oh. Did we forget to mention? Michael Moore may be connected with an Assange movie, and *yawns* where were we? Oh yeah. That former WikiLeaks guy whose name we can’t remem z-z-z-z-z-z….wha? OH! Sorry. Dozed off for a second. That other WikiLeaks guy whose name we can never remember is releasing a tell-all book called Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, due for release February 15. He’s already spilling all the beans about what a loser and a liar Assange is on Wired. Who knows if he’ll get any screen time; there’s not a lot of room left in this show for another sub-plot. Book plug below, followed by the trailer for the movie Revolution Truth. Which Michael Moore and Julian Assange aren’t involved in the production of, even though their names are dropped in all the press about.
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WikiLeaks & The Perilous Celebrity Of Julian Assange

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on December 24, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Friday, December 24th, 2010

In a world that seems more interested in personalities than possibilities, it’s hard to say which way Julian Assange’s fame will go, but WikiLeaks has at least inspired a movement amongst the digital natives. And Assange has been immortalized in silly Flash games.

Probably one of the most interesting things that happened this year is that in spite of the fact that an organization called Wikileaks helped release an appalling video that showed the US military killing innocent civilians and Reuters journalists, as well as thousands of diplomatic cables that exposed the vile and deceitful nature of international relations, in the end, what we’ve ended up talking about most is the narcissistic Australian hacktivist that headed the organization. And of course the fact that in spite of the recent repeal of the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they’re pretty emphatic about the “don’t tell” concept. At least in the case of Bradley Manning, who remains in what many human rights organizations consider inhumane confinement. Admittedly – as the AP pointed out early on – “none of the revelations is particularly explosive” in the CableGate files. That is, until the exposed parties react, and the media broadcasts the reaction. And then, suddenly all of those “not explosive” revelations become matters that threaten the national security of virtually every nation on Earth. Which is interesting, because I’d be willing to bet that you can’t name even three or four of the key “revelations” in the documents. The Telegraph has a longer timeline of WikiLeaks releases here, and Salon has a roundup of the CableGate highlights here to refresh your memory. You’ll note that most of the CableGate “revelations” have to do with bruised egos, name-calling, and distrustful relationships in global politics, not Earth-shattering secrets. So why is this Julian Assange guy being painted as some kind of international terrorist? Because unlike conventional celebrity gossip, political celebrity gossip is attached to true greed for power, not just a greed for being liked, and can literally be a fight to the death. Which is why – as I’ve said before – let’s keep talking about Julian Assange. Maybe his celebrity will help bring a much needed jolt to journalistic methods, and truth will have some hope through “scientific journalism“. If you’ve only been following major media sources or partisan political bloggers for info, one of the more insightful pieces about Assange you’ll find is this one by Bruce Sterling, the novelist who wrote about Assange’s brand of “cypherpunk” decades ago, before this kind of activity was even technologically possible. And equally telling is Assange’s lawyers’ reaction to the Guardian’s leak of the details of the rape accusations against him. It remains to be seen if Assange can keep anything like an air of professional integrity intact as his unsavory celebrity continues, which it almost certainly will. A Swedish documentary called “WikiRebels” was recently made available on line (also below), and more details of his background will become more commonly known as the sensationalism ebbs a little and conventional news sources either need filler for stories or ways to distance themselves if the US government gets more ruthless in attempting to discredit or silence Assange. But for now, there’s at least a small international movement amongst the digital native generation that will keep the WikiLeaks vision alive, and not just the more volatile hacker groups that have attacked the websites of Visa, Amazon, Paypal, and others. Which, by the way, is considered by some to be a legitimate form of expressing dissent. And although rabid conservative bloggers are saying Obama dropped the ball by not shutting WikiLeaks down preemptively, many would say that Obama actually dropped the ball by not supporting the transparency he promised in his campaign. As is pointed out with humor in this Flash based game. And that is probably one of the surest signs one has achieved celebrity, to be immortalized in Flash games. Here’s another. Both are embedded below. What we need now is a WikiLeaks reality show to compete in Sarah Palin’s time slot.
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Sick Of Hearing About Julian Assange & WikiLeaks?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 14, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

So let’s move on then, and talk about OpenLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Bradley Manning, and the future of truth, journalism, and democracy.

Kudos to Time magazine for featuring Julian Assange on their cover with an American flag gagging him. And kudos to their readers for voting Assange person of the year. Not because I think he’s some kind of hero. Hell, I don’t know; under various countries’ laws he’s probably a criminal of some kind or another. In fact, early on, I jokingly suggested that WikiLeaks was a disinformation machine set up by the US government. But if Assange gets thrown under the bus by the British and Swedish legal systems and ends up being “extraordinarily rendered” by US intelligence, the greatest tragedy would not be Assange’s personal demise, it would be if we all forgot about the principle behind what he was doing and returned to pointlessly quibbling about the latest partisan political folly of the week. So I hope conservatives everywhere smolder about Michael Moore’s self-satisfied support of Assange. And I hope liberals have hernias about Sarah Palin suggesting he should be hunted down like Osama Bin Laden. And I hope Vladimir Putin keeps making jabs at our sham democracy with barbs like “So, you know, as they say in the countryside, some people‚Äôs cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet“. And I hope women like Sady Doyle keep convicting him without a trial. And I hope pseudonymous misogynist bloggers like “Ferdinand Bardamu” keep dialing up the outrage on the other side by revealing the identities and addresses of the accusers. And I hope the former WikiLeakers who are organizing OpenLeaks keep dissing Assange to get press for their new venture. And I hope bloggers like Gene Lalor keep fretting that Bradley Manning is a homosexual traitor. And I hope that bleeding heart liberal intellectuals in Berkeley erect a statue in his honor. And I hope Daniel Ellsberg keeps pointing out that his experience with the Pentagon Papers was identical to the WikiLeaks debacle. Because in the end, there’s some nebulous hope that by keeping the dialog about the broader issue alive, more people will realize that the real issue is truth, and possessing the integrity to speak it. It may have taken some personally flawed personalities to do it, but the big filthy satchel of lies has been dumped on the ground. Let’s look at the contents before we decide whom to lynch.
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Whistleblowing For Fun & Profit: Bradley Manning Will Enjoy Neither

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 11, 2010 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, you should never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. To get the truth out these days, it seems like everyone involved has to be the kind of person you wouldn’t want dating your sister.

We’re probably all getting a little WikiWeary, with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange dominating the news cycle for the last few weeks. Which is probably a good thing, because as Assange gets all the credit for exposing the corruption of governments worldwide, and hacktivists around the world rise to defend him, the guy who REALLY exposed the corruption is rotting in jail, largely forgotten. So what about Private First Class Bradley Manning? Is he a hero? A traitor? In the increasingly less-nuanced views of our time, there seems to be little middle ground on this topic. My personal views are mixed. I have a pretty strong sense of honor, and this man was a soldier. In my eyes, his method of releasing classified information clearly violated the guidelines of his command structure. But on the other hand, his command structure has violated its own sense of honor, from the Abu Ghraib scandal to the Collateral Murder video that was the first of Manning’s leaks to be released. And frankly, the fact that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld intentionally blew the cover of Abu Ghraib whistleblower Joe Darby doesn’t bode well for the US Military’s Whistleblower Program. Historically of course, doing the right thing has to be its own reward. Although Daniel Ellsberg is regarded as a hero of sorts for the Pentagon Papers, you’ve probably entirely forgotten Jeffrey Wigand of the Brown & Williamson ‘impact boosting’ scandal that cost the tobacco industry billions in headaches. And although there’s a good chance you know Karen Silkwood’s name, she probably died for her efforts. And I personally had never even heard of Wendell Potter, the former insurance industry executive who exposed many of the industry’s deceptive practices, and has recently come out in defense of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, asserting that the private sector attacks on WikiLeaks set a scary precedent. Things look a little dismal all around for truth; sadly, the president that campaigned on transparency in government is being even harder on whistleblowers than the Bush administration. So no, there’s probably not much glory awaiting Bradley Manning, unless they’re stupid enough to martyr him with execution, as many are suggesting. And the rat that ratted out Manning? If you have the time, Glenn Greenwald has a lengthy piece on Salon trying to sort out the convoluted trail of Adrian Lamo, the convicted hacker turned government informant in whom Manning confided. Lamo has a pretty sordid history himself, and when you read about how he works, and his recent push for a heavier hand with WikiLeaks, you get a strong sense that he blew Manning’s cover more out of self-interested ass-covering than out of some sense of reluctantly doing what was right, as he typically tries to play it all off. So the next time you’re thinking about blowing open that international scandal at work, make sure you sell out properly and get your millions. Basic honesty seems to lead to jail. Or death. And as Adrian Lamo shows us, your reward will have less to do with human decency than your desire to profit.

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