- Amnesia as a Way of Life: WikiLeaks Amid the "Careless People"
If one could cut through the thicket of false premises, logical
fallacies, false dichotomies, arrays of strawmen, general
flutter-headed palaver, and out and out paranoid fantasy marshaled by
the caretakers and apologists of the present system, I would ask this
question -- why is it you are driven with such vehemence to defend and
attempt to preserve the current order? As it is, it seems the nation is
being held together with hydrogenated fat, wheat gluten, payday loans,
Tyvek®, particleboard, and the provisional binding of homespun bigotry
and official duplicity.
- Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government”
Assange has a clearly articulated vision for how Wikileaks’ activities
will “carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and
into a position of clarity,” a strategy for how exposing secrets will
ultimately impede the production of future secrets. The point of
Wikileaks — as Assange argues — is simply to make Wikileaks unnecessary.
- Anti-Spending Tea Party Caucus Members Took Over $1 Billion In Earmarks
Congressional earmarks have been one of the primary targets of the tea
party, ... But it appears that tea party’s self-proclaimed
representatives in Washington haven’t been putting their money where
their mouths are. Hotline On Call reports today that members of House
Tea Party Caucus, founded by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to “represent
the views of our constituents,” requested over $1 billion in earmarks
during the last fiscal year...
- Afghan War Hero is Put Down by Mistake
Target, a tawny-coloured mongrel bitch, defied an Afghan suicide
bomber, gunshot wounds and an attempted hit-and-run, but fate finally
caught up with her in middle America, where an animal control agent put
her to sleep in a heartbreaking case of mistaken identity.
- While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales
Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have
been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole
milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is
engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’
diets, primarily through cheese.
The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics
By Glenn Greenwald
Published Dec 1 2010 on Salon.com
I am tremendously concernced [sic]
about the puerile eruptions of Julian Assange. . . . If a single
foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked
cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in "freedom" stands as a human
disaster. Assange is a criminal. He's the one who should be in jail.
you have that principle down? If "a single foreign national is rounded
up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a
"single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a
"disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail." That's
quite a rigorous moral standard. So let's apply it elsewhere:
about the most destructive "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" the planet
has known for at least a generation: the "human disaster" known as the
attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That
didn't result in the imprisonment of "a single foreign national," but
rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the
displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26
million people. Are those who supported that "anarchic exercise in
'freedom'" -- or at least those responsible for its execution -- also
"criminals who should be in jail"?
not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of
what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty
two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden.
The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of -- and in some
cases directly responsible for -- the world's deadliest and most
lawless actions of the last decade. And they're demanding Assange's
imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has
perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them.
To accomplish that, they're actually advocating -- somehow with a
straight face -- the theory that if a single innocent person is harmed
by these disclosures, then it proves that Assange and WikiLeaks are
evil monsters who deserve the worst fates one can conjure, all while
they devote themselves to protecting and defending a secrecy regime
that spawns at least as much human suffering and disaster as any single
other force in the world. That is what the secrecy regime of the permanent National Security State has spawned.
viscerally saw the grotesque realities of our war in Iraq with the
Apache attack video on innocent civilians and journalists in Baghdad --
and their small children -- as they desperately scurried for cover. We
recently learned that the U.S. government adopted a formal policy
of refusing to investigate the systematic human rights abuses of our
new Iraqi client state, all of which took place under our deliberately
blind eye. We learned of 15,000 additional civilian deaths caused by the war in Iraq that we didn't know of before. We learned -- as documented by The Washington Post's former Baghdad Bureau Chief -- how clear, deliberate and extensive were the lies of top Bush officials about that war as it was unfolding: "Thanks to WikiLeaks, though, I now know the extent to which top American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public," she wrote.
WikiLeaks critics believe it'd be best if all that were kept secret, if
we remained ignorant of it, if the world's most powerful factions could
continue to hide things like that? Apparently. When Joe Klein and his
media comrades calling for Assange's head start uncovering even a
fraction of secret government conduct this important, then they'll have
credibility to complain about WikiLeaks' "excessive commitment to
disclosure." But that will never happen.
One could respond that it's good that we know these
specific things, but not other things WikiLeaks has released. That's
all well and good; as I've said several times, there are reasonable
concerns about some specific disclosures here. But in the real world,
this ideal, perfectly calibrated subversion of the secrecy regime
doesn't exist. WikiLeaks is it. We have occasional investigative
probes of isolated government secrets coming from establishment media
outlets (the illegal NSA program, the CIA black sites, the Pentagon
propaganda program), along with transparency groups such as the ACLU,
CCR, EPIC and EFF valiantly battling through protracted litigation to
uncover secrets. But nothing comes close to the blows WikiLeaks has
struck in undermining that regime.
alternative to the current iteration of WikiLeaks is not
The Perfect Wikileaks that makes perfect judgments about what should
and should not be disclosed, but rather, the ongoing, essentially
unchallenged hegemony of the permanent National Security State, for
which secrecy is the first article of faith and prime weapon. I want
again to really encourage everyone to read this great analysis by The Economist's Democracy in America, which includes this:
I suspect that there
is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come
under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service
officers it is meant to oversee. Organisations such as WikiLeaks, which
are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much
as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best
we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and
accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy.
Some folks ask, "Who elected Julian Assange?" The answer is nobody did,
which is, ironically, why WikiLeaks is able to improve the quality of
our democracy. Of course, those jealously protective of the privileges
of unaccountable state power will tell us that people will die if we
can read their email, but so what? Different people, maybe more people, will die if we can't.
The last decade, by itself, leaves no doubt about the truth of that last sentence. And Matt Yglesias is right that while diplomacy can be hindered without secrecy, one must also consider "how the ability to keep secrets can hinder diplomacy" (incidentally: one
of the more Orwellian aspects of this week's discussion has been the
constant use of the word "diplomacy" to impugn what WikiLeaks did,
creating some Wizard of Oz fantasy whereby the Pentagon is the Bad
Witch of the U.S. Government [thus justifying leaks about war] while
the State Department is the Good Witch [thus rendering these leaks
awful]: that's absurd, as they are merely arms of the same entity,
both devoted to the same ends, ones which are often nefarious, and
State Department officials are just as susceptible as Pentagon
officials to abusive conduct when operating in the dark).
But Matt's other point
merits even more attention. He's certainly right when he says that
"for a third time in a row, a WikiLeaks document dump has conclusively
demonstrated that an awful lot of US government confidentiality is basically about nothing," but I'd quibble with his next observation:
no scandal here and there’s no legitimate state secret. It’s just
routine for the work done by public servants and public expense in the
name of the public to be kept semi-hidden from the public for decades.
a "scandal" when the Government conceals things it is doing without any
legitimate basis for that secrecy. Each and every document that is
revealed by WikiLeaks which has been improperly classified -- whether
because it's innocuous or because it is designed to hide wrongdoing --
is itself an improper act, a serious abuse of government secrecy
powers. Because we're supposed to have an open government -- a
democracy -- everything the Government does is presumptively
public, and can be legitimately concealed only with compelling
justifications. That's not just some lofty, abstract theory; it's
central to having anything resembling "consent of the governed."
we have completely abandoned that principle; we've reversed it. Now,
everything the Government does is presumptively secret; only the most
ceremonial and empty gestures are made public. That abuse of secrecy
powers is vast, deliberate, pervasive, dangerous and destructive.
That's the abuse that WikiLeaks is devoted to destroying, and which its
harshest critics -- whether intended or not -- are helping to
preserve. There are people who eagerly want that secrecy regime to
continue: namely, (a) Washington politicians, Permanent State
functionaries, and media figures whose status, power and sense of
self-importance are established by their access and devotion to that
world of secrecy, and (b) those who actually believe that -- despite
(or because of) all the above acts -- the U.S. Government somehow uses
this extreme secrecy for the Good. Having surveyed the vast suffering
and violence they have wreaked behind that wall, those are exactly the
people whom WikiLeaks is devoted to undermining.
* * * * *
On the issue of the Interpol arrest warrant issued yesterday for Assange's arrest: I think it's deeply irresponsible either
to assume his guilt or to assume his innocence until the case plays
out. I genuinely have no opinion of the validity of those
allegations, but what I do know -- as John Cole notes -- is this: as soon as Scott Ritter began telling the truth about Iraqi WMDs, he was publicly smeared with allegations of sexual improprieties. As soon as Eliot Spitzer began posing a real threat to Wall Street criminals, a massive and strange
federal investigation was launched over nothing more than routine acts
of consensual adult prostitution, ending his career (and the threat he
posed to oligarchs). And now, the day after Julian Assange is
responsible for one of the largest leaks in history, an arrest warrant
issues that sharply curtails his movement and makes his detention
highly likely. It's unreasonable to view that pattern as evidence that
the allegations are part of some conspiracy -- I genuinely do not
believe or disbelieve that -- but, particularly in light of that
pattern, it's most definitely unreasonable to assume that he's guilty
of anything without having those allegations tested and then proven in
Finally, as I noted last night: I was on Canada's CBC last tonight talking about these issues; it can be seen here. I'll also be on MSNBC this morning, at roughly 10:00 a.m., on the same topic.
UPDATE: The notion that one crime doesn't excuse another has absolutely nothing to do with anything I wrote; it's a complete nonsequitur,
merely the standard claim of those who want to propound moral standards
for others that they not only refuse to apply to themselves, but
violate with far greater frequency and severity than those they're