Wikileaks and Net Censorship

About Wikileaks, has anyone wondered:

  • Why and how, with all of our spying technology and cybersecurity, WikiLeaks.org mastermind Julian Assange could have gotten away with pilfering thousands of secret government documents and diplomatic cables?, or
  • Why and how Assange’s source, an enlisted soldier in the US Army managed not only to access those secret documents and diplomatic cables, but also download and photocopy them? (The UK’s Telegraph reports that Private First Class Bradley Manning was not only a homosexual but was considering a sex change. Manning was arrested at the end of May and is being detained by U.S. authorities) or
  • Who/what is really behind Wikileaks? Did our government engineer the Wikileaks document disclosures in order to use it as a perfect excuse to censor or shut down the Internet?

H/t beloved fellow Joseph for the article below.
~Eowyn

H/t Tina



 
Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It’s your choice

Western political elites obfuscate, lie and bluster – and when the veil of secrecy is lifted, they try to kill the messenger

By John Naughton – Guardian – December 6, 2010
‘Never waste a good crisis” used to be the catchphrase of the Obama team in the runup to the presidential election. In that spirit, let us see what we can learn from official reactions to the WikiLeaks revelations.
The most obvious lesson is that it represents the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the internet. There have been skirmishes before, but this is the real thing.
And as the backlash unfolds – first with deniable attacks on internet service providers hosting WikiLeaks, later with companies like Amazon and eBay and PayPal suddenly “discovering” that their terms and conditions preclude them from offering services to WikiLeaks, and then with the US government attempting to intimidate Columbia students posting updates about WikiLeaks on Facebook – the intolerance of the old order is emerging from the rosy mist in which it has hitherto been obscured. The response has been vicious, co-ordinated and potentially comprehensive, and it contains hard lessons for everyone who cares about democracy and about the future of the net.
There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down.
Consider, for instance, how the views of the US administration have changed in just a year. On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom, in Washington DC, which many people welcomed and most interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyberattack on Google. “Information has never been so free,” declared Clinton. “Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had “defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity.” Given what we now know, that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.
One thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they expose how political elites in western democracies have been deceiving their electorates.
The leaks make it abundantly clear not just that the US-Anglo-European adventure in Afghanistan is doomed but, more important, that the American, British and other Nato governments privately admit that too.
The problem is that they cannot face their electorates – who also happen to be the taxpayers funding this folly – and tell them this. The leaked dispatches from the US ambassador to Afghanistan provide vivid confirmation that the Karzai regime is as corrupt and incompetent as the South Vietnamese regime in Saigon was when the US was propping it up in the 1970s. And they also make it clear that the US is as much a captive of that regime as it was in Vietnam.
The WikiLeaks revelations expose the extent to which the US and its allies see no real prospect of turning Afghanistan into a viable state, let alone a functioning democracy. They show that there is no light at the end of this tunnel. But the political establishments in Washington, London and Brussels cannot bring themselves to admit this.
Afghanistan is, in that sense, a quagmire in the same way that Vietnam was. The only differences are that the war is now being fought by non-conscripted troops and we are not carpet-bombing civilians.
The attack of WikiLeaks also ought to be a wake-up call for anyone who has rosy fantasies about whose side cloud computing providers are on. These are firms like Google, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace and Amazon which host your blog or store your data on their servers somewhere on the internet, or which enable you to rent “virtual” computers – again located somewhere on the net. The terms and conditions under which they provide both “free” and paid-for services will always give them grounds for dropping your content if they deem it in their interests to do so. The moral is that you should not put your faith in cloud computing – one day it will rain on your parade.
Look at the case of Amazon, which dropped WikiLeaks from its Elastic Compute Cloud the moment the going got rough. It seems that Joe Lieberman, a US senator who suffers from a terminal case of hubris, harassed the company over the matter. Later Lieberman declared grandly that he would be “asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information”. This led the New Yorker’s Amy Davidson to ask whether “Lieberman feels that he, or any senator, can call in the company running the New Yorker’s printing presses when we are preparing a story that includes leaked classified material, and tell it to stop us”.
What WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the western democratic system has been hollowed out. In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent (Ireland, the US and UK in not regulating banks); corrupt (all governments in relation to the arms trade); or recklessly militaristic (the US and UK in Iraq). And yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger.
As Simon Jenkins put it recently in the Guardian, “Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure.” What we are hearing from the enraged officialdom of our democracies is mostly the petulant screaming of emperors whose clothes have been shredded by the net.
Which brings us back to the larger significance of this controversy. The political elites of western democracies have discovered that the internet can be a thorn not just in the side of authoritarian regimes, but in their sides too. It has been comical watching them and their agencies stomp about the net like maddened, half-blind giants trying to whack a mole. It has been deeply worrying to watch terrified internet companies – with the exception of Twitter, so far – bending to their will.
But politicians now face an agonising dilemma. The old, mole-whacking approach won’t work. WikiLeaks does not depend only on web technology. Thousands of copies of those secret cables – and probably of much else besides – are out there, distributed by peer-to-peer technologies like BitTorrent. Our rulers have a choice to make: either they learn to live in a WikiLeakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet. Over to them.

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0 responses to “Wikileaks and Net Censorship

  1. Many thanks, Eowyn, for getting the word out!
    What I REALLY like about this is that “The Guardian” has long been perhaps the best investigative newspaper out of the UK, supported by Center and Left of Center types. Yet this writer could use the strongest possible criticism of the same feral gubbmint mentality and elites, or as he puts it “There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down.”
    And shades of Dr Weaver! Here we have EXACTLY what he forecast back in 1948: “The WikiLeaks revelations expose the extent to which the US and its allies see no real prospect of turning Afghanistan into a viable state, let alone a functioning democracy. They show that there is no light at the end of this tunnel. But the political establishments in Washington, London and Brussels cannot bring themselves to admit this.”
    The Conservative position demands the clearest statement of Eternal Truths, and when these are denied, as our feral gubbmints have become so very skilled at doing, we have this current spectacle, a ship of state filled with fools!

     
  2. charlesmountain

    I feel as if this Wikileaks is just another scene in the final act as the left pushes us towards the collapse and chaos and into the arms of the One World Order. The Global Elitist totalitarians are using leftism, anarchists and Islam as a third, fourth and fifth rail to achieve their goal(s). They are using the percieved universal attractivness of Marxism and Socialism.
    Wikileaks is just another divisive tool being used to divide elements in both the right and the left. We just need to get through the rest of this lame duck session unscathed if possible and gain some breathing room with the next Congress. Once there no quarter must be given. I would like to see a Bachmann, or a Boehner come out and give a absolutely, no holds-barred speech of their lifetime and lay out the complete destructive anti-american liberal agenda in all its hellish glory immediately! Make their case and prepare the American people for the storm and economic hard times that will follow in the fight to retake our country and liberty! No more of this tip toeing around and side-stepping! Come out , be fearless and expose this INTENTIONALLY destructive administration and its agenda. No more using words like incompetent, shallow and narcissim. This has all been pre-planned at thought through. Stop playing games with the American people!

     
  3. charlesmountain

    http://www.wnd.com/files/pdf/Obama_Eligibility_Primer_FORWARD6.pdf
    I feel as if this Wikileaks debacle is just another scene in the final act as the left pushes us towards collapse, chaos and into the arms of the One World Order. The Global Elitist totalitarians are using leftism, anarchists and Islam as a third, fourth and fifth rail to achieve their goal(s). They are using what they percieve to be is the universal attractivness of Marxism and Socialism.
    Wikileaks is just another divisive tool being used to divide elements in both the right and the left. We just need to get through the rest of this lame duck session unscathed if possible and gain some breathing room with the next Congress. Once there no quarter must be given. I would like to see a Bachmann, or a Boehner come out and give an absolutely, no holds-barred speech of their lifetime and lay out the complete destructive anti-american liberal agenda in all its hellishness immediately! And make their case and prepare the American people for the storm and economic hard times that will follow in the fight to retake our country and liberty! No more of this tip toeing around and side-stepping! Come out , be fearless and expose this INTENTIONALLY destructive administration and its agenda. No more using words like incompetent, shallow and narcissim. This has all been pre-planned and thought through. Stop the playing of games with the American people and tell us what most of us already know!
    http://www.wnd.com/files/pdf/Obama_Eligibility_Primer_FORWARD6.pdf

     
  4. “Stop playing games with the American people!” I’m not sure what country you reside in but our government and the corporations that run it have been playing games with the American people since the inception of the American democratic experiment. The difference is that it is more aggressive than it has been in the past. Net neutrality has been decided a long time ago.

     
    • charlesmountain

      I wasn’t referring to corporations. Nor was I referring to net neutrality. I was talking about Republican rhetoric. I don’t see the connection of your reply to my post…..I guess you couldn’t extrapolate that I am indeed American either.

       
  5. Wikileaks should have been shut down before the first dump was made, as we all knew it was coming.
    Too bad America has lost its balls.
    -Dave

     
    • Dave from Atlanta

      Wikileaks is giving us the “transparency” that investigative journalism used to provide. Whereas some secrecy seems to be inherent in foreign policy, the behavior of our elected officials, as revealed by these documents, is abysmal.
      I like what Ron Paul had to say yesterday on this topic:
      “In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it. This is media, isn’t it? I mean, why don’t we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?”
      Don’t let your thoughts be manipulated by those calling the release of the Wikileaks documents “treason.” Instead, focus on what the documents are telling us about how our own government is behaving. Our outrage is being cleverly redirected toward the messenger.

       
  6. Excellent article Eowyn.
    The private who stole the documents and distributed them should be publicly executed immediately… But as painful as it may be, we can NEVER shoot the messenger. A government left unchecked wields power ultimately used against its own people.
    As the elite do not control the “narrative” on the internet, this is the staged “crises” which will be used to either shut it down or heavily censor it.
    P.S.
    “The attack of WikiLeaks also ought to be a wake-up call for anyone who has rosy fantasies about whose side cloud computing providers are on. These are firms like Google, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace and Amazon…”
    Anyone find it extremely odd that on whitehouse.gov’s main page, they advertise and promotes the following websites… Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn? Since when do privately owned companies get free advertisement on the tax payer’s dime?

     
    • Screw cloud computing… do all my computing and documents from a dumb terminal on somebody else’s centralized website they can cut-off, edit, steal things from, lose, corrupt or other wise mess-with, no way? Without Internet connectivity (and dependent on home computers to do everything as we are now) we’d be up the creek.

       
  7. Thomas,
    Like Hell we cannot shoot the messenger:
    Warning: Language most foul, and I meant every word of it.
    http://davesnotepad.blogspot.com/2010/12/assange-dont-shoot-messenger-for.html
    -Dave

     
  8. To add to my post above…
    Lieutenant Quarles Harris Jr. who obtained Obama’s passport information in 2008 from the State Department, who later was working with federal agents in the investigation, was assassinated with one bullet to the back of the head in his car in DC.
    http://www.therightperspective.org/2009/07/24/security-breach-may-lead-to-obama-natural-born-status/
    Now some would say good, the man deserved to die for obtaining (what appears to be classified) information from the government. However, I say the federal government should be operating in a way that promotes openness and transparency as everything they do is funded by our tax dollars.
    Had Obama’s passport information been leaked and distributed to the public through credible media outlets, we would not be subject to an ineligible president sitting in the oval office at the moment… and worse, one who appears to be shredding our Constitution on a daily basis.
    Somehow the fact that the NY Times consistently “leaks” classified information to the public is lost in all this hoopla over Wikileaks and Mr. Assange.

     
  9. Steve,
    I am so livid over this WikiLeaks stuff I have had to stay away from the net most of the day just to keep my blood pressure down.
    They arrested that bastard, but his site is still not only up, but still releasing information.
    The government can take down a kiddie porn site halfway around the world in no time at all, but they can’t take down WikiLeaks???
    Something smells here, and it isn’t my upper lip, either.
    And I don’t for one minute believe Pfc. Manning was working alone. He had to be getting help from somebody, and I am guessing that somebody is located somewhere in the bowels of Foggy Bottom itself.
    Let’s face it, the State Dept isn’t exactly a pro-American operation, and their long history of leaks is staggering.
    I hope to see Manning and Assange hang together. Manning for being a traitor to our country, and Assange for being an enemy of it.
    When I think of all the people’s lives these two lowlife slugs have put in danger, I literally see red.
    -Dave

     
  10. Dave from Atlanta

    My wife often expresses angry reactions to things going on in the news, and typically she says “they should _______.” Fill in the blank. “They should put him in prison till he rots.” “They should revoke his citizenship.” “They should sterilize that woman so she can’t have anymore children.” Etc, etc.
    I typically tell her, “be careful what you wish for.” Each time someone wishes that “they” should take action against something that seems politically, socially or morally outrageous, I worry about bypassing due process or losing rights in other ways.
    In this case, “a bullet behind the ear” is basically talking about bypassing due process. “Shutting down that site” is implying the government should have the right and the ability to have complete veto power over the Internet.
    We have all heard of lynch mobs. Such group behaviors are typically fueled by anger and a sense of unfulfilled justice. I see the same sort of anger and frustration being vented here. But as Rush says, “words mean things.” Are your words really an expression of what you really want to see happen? Do you really want to see your own rights diminished in order to satisfy your passionate thirst for justice?
    Please consider the implications of what you are saying. Be careful what you wish for.

     
  11. Steve, it’s 2 in the heart and one in the head and you can be sure that they’re dead…..

     

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