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WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Arrested?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 5, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Maybe in the development of his interpersonal skills, but his character flaws give us an important glimpse into the collective psyche of the entire human race.

I used to jokingly say that I loved the human race, it was just the dirty little specks that make it up that I wasn’t always so crazy about. I think this is something most of us share to some degree; we may be much more particular about whom we allow into our more intimate circle, but “the crowd” is okay enough that we’ll go watch a football game with them, even if we favor opposing teams. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as the whole WikiLeaks drama has unfolded over the last few months. I find myself having some conflicting thoughts, first being gung-ho about the information being leaked, then pondering if Assange has ruined the future of this kind of transparency with his celebrity, and then thinking that perhaps having his face on the organization is the only way it could all work. But when Tea Baggers start calling for the CIA to kill Assange, and party-hopping, self-interested plutocrats like Joe Lieberman intimidate Amazon.com into refusing to host WikiLeaks’ content, I become convinced that regardless of my or anyone else’s personal opinions about Assange as a public figure, he’s playing a crucial role. Apparently Daniel Ellsberg (of the Pentagon Papers fame) agrees, and with much more integrity than I; he actually canceled his Amazon account. We live in an era when an oligarchical corporatocracy runs a government that’s comprised mainly of wealthy team players that put on an exceptional dog and pony show to maintain the illusion that they’re representing a populace they’ve divided straight down the middle with peripheral issues while they midwife the birth of the full-blown corporation state. And that glimpse into the collective psyche I mentioned? It’s first of all very telling that a lot of Wikileaks’ insiders departed as soon as the heat started rising a little. His harshest critics are people in the same field; the founder of Cryptome.org criticizes him in the tech media, while on the Cryptome site they call WikiLeaks “cowardly” for too much redaction of the documents. It smacks a little of the kind of quiet rage you expect amongst young hackers who are jealous of each others’ accomplishments. But it’s even more telling that a government that taps our phones, places bomb conspirators in our places of faith, and demands full body pat-downs when we travel doesn’t want US to know what THEY’RE doing. In the end, I think this is all really about the almost universal assumption that deceit is a fundamental requirement of human interaction and governance. Personally, I don’t think it is. And I think (or at least hope) that whatever happens to WikiLeaks in particular, that this could be the dawn of a new era in journalism and information sharing. Mark Pesce of ABC (the Australian one) takes an interesting look at that idea here, and the Associated Press acknowledges their implication in the leaks in this piece, in which they talk about the cooperation between WikiLeaks and The New York Times, Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: Suicide By Spook?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 30, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Although some aspects of what WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is doing are admirable, given his arrogant and self-aggrandizing approach, one can only wonder how long he will remain free or even alive. No matter how things turn out, I nominate Julian Sands to play him in the movie.

Rumor has it that there’s a movie in the
works, with another Julian starring as Assange

Earlier today I joked with a friend that if Julian Assange wants to live, he should get in touch with Osama Bin Laden’s people; they seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the US government off their tails. So it was with a certain glee that I read that Sarah Palin went all fuzzy in the head again, demanding we hunt Assange down like Bin Laden. I guess meaning “in a fashion that never leads to his capture”. Assange is often referred to as being in an “undisclosed location”, a place made famous by another narcissistic freak, Dick Cheney. Although in Dick’s case, he had the benefit of a global superpower’s intelligence agencies to undisclose him. Assange’s undisclosed location is England, which I personally wouldn’t refer to as particularly undisclosed. The fact that Interpol is gunning for him doesn’t bode well for his future either. Although some would argue that Assange and the Swedish legal system deserve each other, the fact that the case was brought forth once, dropped, and then brought forth again to coincide with the release of more documents smacks of the kind of spy-novel intrigue one would expect in a situation like this. In an era when White House staff members out our own spies for domestic political revenge, it would be naive to assume for certain that the rape allegations are legit. Unfortunately, in spite of the many possible virtues of what Assange is doing, many – including a co-founder that has run a “purer” version of what WikiLeaks is doing at Cryptome.org – agree that he’s going about it all wrong, letting money and his own celebrity damage the integrity of the information. Even his key tech people left en masse just a couple of months ago. I personally believe that the essence of what Assange is doing is crucial at this point in history; the age of nation states with their legacy of smiling mutual deceit and spy vs. spy charades is approaching its obsolescence. A new world order probably is in the works, and I don’t think we want it defined by the likes of any of the people being exposed in the recent diplomatic cables. I honestly just wonder how long Assange will remain free, or even alive. I hope long enough to take down a few banks. I also think it’s about time someone got to work on the movie; given Julian Assange’s foppish dislikeableness, it could easily be a career-reviving role for Julian Sands.

A Chain Is Only As Strong As It’s Wikiest Link – US Military Video Of Civilian “Collateral Damage”

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on April 8, 2010 by admin in Politics

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

It’s been suggested that I look rather comfortable in a tin foil hat, but even the Icelandic government and Glenn Greenwald agree that sites like WikiLeaks.org and Cryptome.org may be the last hope for journalistic freedom

This is the point in the video (see
below) where a crew member says
“yeah, that’s a weapon”, referring
to the journalist’s camera.

The old expression “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” takes on a different meaning when “what you don’t know” is that there’s a trigger-happy American Apache helicopter crew waiting for permission to shoot at you with 30mm cannons and Hellfire missiles because they’ve somehow mistaken your camera for an AK-47 and an RPG. We joked last week that maybe the US military had set up the whistleblower site WikiLeaks as a brilliantly recursive disinformation exercise, but it would be hard to find the disinformation value in releasing a video that clearly shows that you lied publicly and boldly about your role in killing innocent civilians in an urban combat area. If you’re an American, and if you still think we have any kind of credible news media or that our government exercises anything remotely like transparency, I urge you to read Glenn Greenwald’s The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters. In it, he points out that “at exactly the same time that investigative journalism has collapsed, public and private efforts to manipulate public opinion have proliferated“. Which is a fact that, in my opinion, effectively counterbalances any criticism of what the site does, because so far, the site’s developers have only shown alignment with one principle that could be considered political: exposing secret and deceitful programs perpetrated by governments and large organizations. WikiLeaks is getting a lot of support from the Icelandic government to create a “journalism haven”, and God knows journalists need one. Over 800 journalists have been killed on the job since 1992. So why is Iceland behind the idea? The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative explains – among other things – that it was failure of the free press in Iceland that allowed the massive government and banking corruption that brought the country to complete economic collapse. Sound like a familiar setup? I’m sometimes accused of looking rather comfortable in a tinfoil hat, but this isn’t “internet crank” material, this may be the first ripple in a new wave of journalistic integrity. Watch the videos below, if you have the stomach for it. Be warned though, you will see innocent civilians like yourself getting killed. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Source Fearmongering: What If Everything I Told You Were A Lie?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on April 3, 2010 by admin in Politics

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

The Army’s assertion that whistleblower site WikiLeaks.org is a potential hotbed of disinformation makes me wonder if they created themselves. As William Burroughs said, “A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on”

You may have seen the episode in the original Star Trek series in which Spock said something like that to a female android, leaving her smoldering in the ears as she short-circuited from the paradox. Recent press about the web site WikiLeaks has left me with a little smoke coming from my ears for similar reasons. I first heard of the whistleblower site a couple of years ago, and as a countercultural, nearly apolitical sort of person thought “Hmmm. That’s a very cool idea”. If you haven’t heard of WikiLeaks, they publish “anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents, while attempting to preserve the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors“, as this Wikipedia entry puts it (don’t be confused by WikiLeaks’ name however, it is in no way connected with Wikipedia). One of the main things that makes it possible for the site to remain in operation is the intentionally unregulated nature of the internet. By spreading the documents across many servers in many locations, the teeth are removed from most countries’ or companies’ ability to file injunctions of any kind against the site. Leave it to the US Military to put the “dis” in “disinformation” though. When WikiLeaks released documents revealing how the US Army was rendering roadside bombs in Iraq useless with radio jamming, the Army was understandably not too happy. In fact, if you believe the information shared on WikiLeaks, the Army assembled this 33 page document (556KB, PDF) assessing the site as a security threat. In its own un-self-conscious doublespeak, it then ironically outlines how the site’s ability to tell the truth and expose corruption is a threat to truth and democracy, going on to point out that the site uses “trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers” and that the “identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action” targeting these people could render the site ineffective. They also point out – letting the paranoid flag fly – that the site itself is a perfect platform to “post fabricated information, misinformation, disinformation, or propaganda and could be used in perception management and influence operations to convey a positive or negative message to specific target audiences“. Which, at the end of the day, leaves me with my own nagging paranoia that maybe Army Intelligence started the site in the first place, and is just playing their part in the elaborate con. What do you think? Should a site like WikiLeaks be allowed to exist and disseminate information so we can assess its truth for ourselves, or do we need a government or agency to assess it for us?

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