A Distinctive Perspective on Assange

Here’s a a view on what’s happening to Assange from someone with a very distinctive perspective.

Daniel Ellsberg tweets:

“EVERY attack now made on Assange and @wikileaks was made against me and release of Pentagon Papers”

Ellsberg expands a little on that thought in a group-signed statement to which his tweet links.

As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary over the weekend has tried to portray Assange’s exposure of classified materials as very different from — and far less laudable than — what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.” He continues: “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

Image:  Henri Regnault, The Spy, 1880

117 replies
  1. 1
    matoko_chan says:

    wallah Levenson is on a roll…THREE SPLENTASTIC posts inna row.
    u got the magic in u today. :)
    i approve this message
    but i think both eemom and burn will tell you Ellsberg doesn’t MEAN what you think he does.
    :)

  2. 2

    Good to hear from Ellsberg. I’d like to hear more from him.

    I was around during his particular dustup but I’ve forgotten a lot of the details.

  3. 3
    eemom says:

    oh fer fucksake.

    Let me preface this by saying that I do regard Ellsberg as an American hero.

    Now that I have said that, his heroism took place four decades ago. He’s an old guy now who’s probably just ecstatic that anyone’s interested in what he has to say one more time before he moves on to that great encrypted database in the sky.

  4. 4
    norbizness says:

    Well, they did try to break into his psychiatrist’s office…

  5. 5
    norbizness says:

    “And for fuck’s sake, John Lewis, STOP MILKING IT… so you were at Selma, for Chrissake it was four decades ago so maybe you can go to that great rally in the sky someday.”

    I’m sorry, I forget we’re a country populated with individuals that have the historical perspective of gnats.

  6. 6
    eemom says:

    @matoko_chan:

    watch it there, little cudlipette. Don’t let those great globs of FP Cole-love get to yer head TOO much.

    Heed the lesson of E.D. Kain. As the mighty rise, so shall they fall.

  7. 7
    eemom says:

    @norbizness:

    GFY. kthxbai

  8. 8
    maye says:

    OT: I just read over at TPM that Reid is holding a vote on DADT tonight. Does anyone know the current vote count? Where is Jim Webb on this? I guess I could pick up the phone and call his smarmy staff.

  9. 9
    Tom Levenson says:

    @norbizness:

    individuals that have the historical perspective of gnats.

    That’s not a gnice thing to say. But you gnu that.

    Which is just my way of giving myself an excuse to link to this.

  10. 10
    Seebach says:

    The US lobbied Russia this year on behalf of Visa and MasterCard in an attempt to ensure the payment companies were not “adversely affected” by new legislation, according to American diplomats in Moscow.

    A state department cable released this afternoon by WikiLeaks reveals that US diplomats intervened to try to amend a draft law going through Russia’s Duma. Their explicit aim was to ensure the new law did not “disadvantage” the two US firms, the cable states.

    The revelation comes a day after Visa – apparently acting under intense pressure from Washington – announced it was suspending all payments to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website. Visa was following MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon, all of which have severed ties with the site and its founder Julian Assange in the last few days.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news.....ve-updates

    Apparently, Mastercard is offline now.

  11. 11
    eemom says:

    teeeeny bit of difference between a civil rights leader and a whistleblower. Just a TAD.

    Idiot.

  12. 12
    norbizness says:

    @Tom Levenson: I thought for certain you were going to link to this guy.

  13. 13
    Stillwater says:

    @matoko_chan: but i think both eemom […] will tell you Ellsberg doesn’t MEAN what you think he does.

    That was amazing – borne out in only seven minutes. Do you do football games?

  14. 14
    Tom Levenson says:

    @norbizness: I should have.

  15. 15
    Seebach says:

    @eemom: You might want to leave this thread. You might learn something the government doesn’t want you to know.

  16. 16
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    And you go right back to being an ass. Lightning speed, I must say.

    @norbizness:

    They didn’t try. They did it. Only the fact that it was the incompetents Liddy and Hunt who couldn’t carry out a secret operation if their lives depended on it did the break-in not lead to them getting the information they wanted to discredit and ruin him. They were forced to settle for prosecuting him under the 1917 Espionage Act and for conspiracy and theft (charges that might have put him in prison for over 100 years). Again, incompetence (illegal evidence through wiretaps; gross misconduct by the government) on the part of his enemies (and a fabulous defense team) kept Ellsberg from disappearing into a federal prison forever.

    I not only was alive and approaching adulthood when all this shit went down, I spend a semester in college researching Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers case for a constitutional law class. I wrote a 40 page term paper on it. Ellsberg is right on here (and a personal hero of mine). I, too, see little difference between what happened to Ellsberg and what is happening to Assange, with the caveat that American courts now care not at all about illegal evidence or gross governmental conduct when it comes to those who speak truth to power.

  17. 17
    eemom says:

    “EVERY attack now made on Assange

    so Ellsberg got charged with Swedish broken-condom-rape too??
    Who’d’a thunk.

    And took every opportunity to taunt the US government in public like a “DARE ya to hit me” schoolboy?

    And dumped masses of unreviewed documents on the public saying, in effect, “Here. YOU find the good shit”?

    Dear Gawd, you’re right. The parallels are amazing.

  18. 18
    eemom says:

    @geg6:

    oh fuck you.

    You know, you don’t HAVE to call names EVERY time you disagree with someone.

    Unless you’re a whiny, petty little bully, that is.

    Case closed.

  19. 19
    Stillwater says:

    You might want to leave this thread. You might learn something the government doesn’t want you to know.

    Fixated.

  20. 20
    Seebach says:

    It’s clear that the US state department does little more than gossip and lobby for US corporations.

    Stop wars? No.
    Stop genocides? No.

    This could certainly hamper the US’s ability to do things like not stop genocides in Darfur!

    If the US can no longer lobby on behalf of its corporations, fucking fine by me.

  21. 21
    numbskull says:

    @eemom: Yeah, but even with all the name-calling, he’s kicking your ass on substance.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    Right.

    I am interested, however, in how you can say that you consider Ellsberg an American hero but that he is too old and stupid and an overall desperate media attention whore to even listen to about a situation that bears more than a passing resemblance to the one he withstood.

  23. 23
    Zifnab says:

    @Seebach: That’s just crazy. I appreciate how the Swedish Prosecutor’s Authority is holding up better than one of the biggest credit card agencies. :-p Makes you feel really secure in all your credit needs.

  24. 24
    Seebach says:

    Not 36 hours after MasterCard froze payments to WikiLeaks, their website was down as hackers with the group “Anonymous” launched a new wave of cyberattacks. The company said its customers could still use their credit cards for purchases, but the PayPoint retail network told a BBC reporter that MasterCard’s “SecureCode” service had been taken down, interrupting service all over.

    http://twitter.com/#!/ruskin14.....0016296960

  25. 25
    dr. bloor says:

    @eemom:

    So Ellsberg is wrong when he’s talking about his own experience and you are right. Let me guess: the first time you saw Annie Hall, you told McLuhan he was wrong about his theory when Alvy pulled him out to call down the dipshit ahead of him in line.

    Thanks for playing.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    @Seebach:

    This is fucking hilarious. Assange and his cohort are heroes if only for just for how the banksters and their collaborators are getting schooled.

  27. 27
    Stillwater says:

    @Seebach: And the war has begun!

    I can’t remember the details of this (someone out there know this story?) but Intel (I think) spent like 4 years and hundreds of millions of dollars designing an encryption system for products, and once it was released, teh hackers broke the code in like two days AND released downloadable code for everyone to enjoy. If security/encryption hawks think they can win this thing by shutting down accounts and freezing assets (or whatever), they will be in for a big surprise.

  28. 28
    eemom says:

    @geg6:

    I am interested, however, in how you can say

    let me tell you a little secret. Persons who are really interested in anything anyone has to say — as opposed to swinging their look-how-tough-I-am girl-dicks around for public admiration — don’t begin the dialogue with dismissive insults.

  29. 29
    eemom says:

    Of course Ellsberg’s perspective is prima facie valid.

    But many people other than me have pointed out the many essential differences between Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks, which I don’t have time to reiterate now because I should have been at work two hours ago.

    The statement above, that “EVERYTHING being said” about Assange
    was said about Ellsberg, is ridiculous on its face. For starters, Assange is a fucking Aussie — whatever anyone might accuse him of, treason isn’t one of them. And again, whatever you think about wikileaks, there ARE valid criticisms of Assange that had absolutely no relevance in the PP situation.

    So, yes, Ellsberg’s perspective SHOULD be valid — but when he undermines his own credibility with statements like that……? You don’t get to rewrite history just because you were THERE.

    That’s why I speculated as I did about his motive — not that he’s an “attention whore” — just that maybe he’s a lonely old forgotten guy who’s glad to get a little attention….?

  30. 30
    eemom says:

    @dr. bloor:

    the dipshit was BEHIND him in line. Get yer facts straight.

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    Since I really AM interested…

    Oh, eemom, you are always so perceptive and kind to all of the commentariat here that I seek insight to the workings of your fine intellect.

    How’s that work for you?

    So…on to the real question here?

    Why do you think Ellsberg’s insights are irrelevant and stupid (which you most certainly do, by implication)? You said it’s because he’s old and such and that he’s hoping for one more glorious moment in the media spotlight. Do you have any evidence that Ellsberg is too old to remember what his experience in a similar situation was? Or are you arguing that these experiences are nothing alike? Do you have any evidence that Ellsberg has, over the years, pined away for media attention and that he has ever been motivated by attention from the media? Has he been punditing while I wasn’t looking? What are you trying to say about Ellsberg? And if he is too old and irrelevant and a DAW, then why would you consider him an American hero? And if you consider him a hero for what he did with the Pentagon Papers, why won’t you give Assange and his cohort the benefit of the doubt?

  32. 32
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    Oh, this is just too much.

    But many people other than me have pointed out the many essential differences between Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks, which I don’t have time to reiterate now because I should have been at work two hours ago.

    Links, please? And they better be better sources on this matter than Daniel Ellsberg himself.

    Again, I have to ask…

    What is materially different (other than nationality) about Ellsberg’s situation that makes it nothing like Assange’s? If Ellsberg says that they tried the same things against him (with the techniques and technology of the times, of course) that they are doing to Assange, what do you know about Ellsberg’s experience at the time that Ellsberg doesn’t?

  33. 33
    Seebach says:

    “Please be advised that MasterCard SecureCode Support has detected a service disruption to the MasterCard Directory Server. The Directory Server service has been failed over to a secondary site however customers may still be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. More information on the estimated time of recovery will be shared in due course.”

  34. 34
    WereBear says:

    @Seebach: That’s terrible/awesome.

    One of these days, I’m telling you, there will be a lesson in Who Has The Power Now.

  35. 35
    Stillwater says:

    @Seebach:

    “Hacking Paypal, no dollars. Hacking Mastercard, no dollars. Using your Mastercard, impossible.”

    ETA: I guess that should be “Taking down Mastercard, priceless.”

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    “EVERY attack now made on Assange and @wikileaks was made against me and release of Pentagon Papers”

    Thank you very much for these posts.

    There have been some interesting responses to the Wikileaks from the tech community, especially the denial of service attacks and the squeezing out of the ability of people to be able to donate via PayPal and other services, and the attempts in the Middle East and China to shut down Internet access to even reporting about Wikileaks.

  37. 37

    I am so grateful our entire economy gets to play its own little part in this giant ooda experiment.

  38. 38
    Caravelle says:

    eemom :

    The statement above, that “EVERYTHING being said” about Assange
    was said about Ellsberg, is ridiculous on its face. For starters, Assange is a fucking Aussie—whatever anyone might accuse him of, treason isn’t one of them.

    And yet, they did.

  39. 39
    Stillwater says:

    @Brachiator: Do you have any other links about these activities?

  40. 40
    debbie says:

    One difference between Ellsburg and Assange I see is that Ellsburg didn’t compromise the safety of individuals trying to be of help. From what I know of Ellsburg, he’d have made sure their identity wouldn’t have been revealed. Assange has shown no such discretion. On the first dump, he expected the Pentagon to do his dirty work for him; this time around, he expected The Guardian, NYT, etc. to do it.

  41. 41
    matoko_chan says:

    @eemom: im not Kain.
    if you think im EVAH going to go pissing and moaning off to cole because the old harpy patrol hurt my fee fees you are purely delusional.
    i can defend myself.

  42. 42
    matoko_chan says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: tee hee.
    you stupid cudlips still dont get it.
    allow me to use the cattle prod of truth on your dumbass bovine behinds.
    the bankstahs ARE part and parcel of the Hyperpower.
    OBL got that, even if you don’t.

  43. 43
    matoko_chan says:

    @Stillwater: yup. like i SAID the hackers make the ice, therefore they own the ice.

    He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing. Paul Mu’adib.

  44. 44
    suzanne says:

    TL, may I just say that I ***adore*** the fabulous art that you bring to the front page. So. Fucking. Much. The van Doesburg yesterday in particular warmed the cockles of my heart. Were I a dude, it would totally give me a boner.

    Heh. I said “cockles”.

    Seriously. Please don’t ever leave.

  45. 45
    Stillwater says:

    @matoko_chan: The game is getting more interesting, no? And the amount of resources being expended at this very moment to regain control, let alone prevent further erosion, is truly immense. And depending on the evasiveness and determination of the hackers, it will be a losing battle.

  46. 46
    matoko_chan says:

    @Stillwater: the Hyperpower cannot win.
    America cannot win against insurgency.
    not vietcong insurgents, not islamic insurgents, not cyber-insurgents.
    the a-priori Bayesian probablity is limit negative infinity.
    the Hyperpower is 3 for 3 FAIL(A-stan, Iraq, Vietnam) on insurgencies fought with with mercs on the insurgents home turf.
    it is Info-war— and the Hyperpower is losing badly.

  47. 47
    matoko_chan says:

    To paraphrase Spock, who is allus tellin meh to learn mandarin becasue of global economics,

    learn chanese

    :)

  48. 48
    burnspbesq says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Lovely attempt to act as my mouthpiece (did I agree to pay you for these services?), but you’re fired for losing message discipline.

    I will defend with every fibre of my being Ellsberg’s right to be wrong. He’s wrong on this. The parallels between Ellsberg and Assange are substantially outweighed by the differences.

    Shorter me: Ellsberg was a patriot. Assange is an anarchist.

  49. 49
    Brachiator says:

    @Stillwater:

    Do you have any other links about these activities?

    Here’s something that popped up on ars technica:

    4chan rushes to WikiLeaks’ defense, forces Swiss banking site offline — The forces of Anonymous have taken aim at several companies who are refusing to do business with WikiLeaks. 4chan’s hordes have launched distributed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal, Swiss bank PostFinance, and other sites that have hindered the whistleblowing site’s operations.
    __
    A self-styled spokesman for the group calling himself “Coldblood” has said that any website that’s “bowing down to government pressure” is a target. PayPal ceased processing donations to the site, and PostFinance froze WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s account. The attacks are being performed under the Operation: Payback banner; Operation: Payback is the name the group is using in its long-running attacks on the RIAA, MPAA, and other organizations involved with anti-piracy lawsuits.

  50. 50
    suzanne says:

    @matoko_chan:

    if you think im EVAH going to go pissing and moaning off to cole because the old harpy patrol hurt my fee fees you are purely delusional.

    Can you call me “fat” again? I really enjoyed that. I was simply astounded by your powers of persuasion and the highmindedness of your repartee.

  51. 51
    burnspbesq says:

    @eemom:

    “that great encrypted database in the sky”

    Wait, what? God is the Big Sysop? Interesting theology you’re developing there. So Steve Jobs = Martin Luther?

  52. 52
    Catsy says:

    @eemom:

    For starters, Assange is a fucking Aussie—whatever anyone might accuse him of, treason isn’t one of them.

    Except that hasn’t stopped ignorant wingnuts from doing exactly that. Your point lends strength to Ellsberg’s argument rather than refuting it.

    And again, whatever you think about wikileaks, there ARE valid criticisms of Assange that had absolutely no relevance in the PP situation.

    Which may be true, but is entirely beside the point that Ellsburg was making.

    So, yes, Ellsberg’s perspective SHOULD be valid—but when he undermines his own credibility with statements like that……? You don’t get to rewrite history just because you were THERE.

    And you don’t get to rewrite it because you weren’t.

    That’s why I speculated as I did about his motive—not that he’s an “attention whore”—just that maybe he’s a lonely old forgotten guy who’s glad to get a little attention….?

    As opposed to the far more plausible alternative, which is that he actually sees meaningful parallels between this situation and the one that he lived through–insights that you lazily dismiss by attacking the messenger simply because you don’t agree with the point he’s making despite having no firsthand knowledge of either situation.

    I can’t imagine why you have no credibility in this argument.

  53. 53
    Stillwater says:

    @burnspbesq: Ellsberg was a patriot. Assange is an anarchist.

    But this doesn’t refute what Ellsberg asserted. The substantive differences between the two individuals has nothing to do with whether “EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time”. Ellsberg is referring to how the media and government arereacting to Assange.

  54. 54
    burnspbesq says:

    @suzanne:

    Now, don’t be mean. We should be grateful that matoko takes time out from studying for the TOEFL to share her wisdom with us.

  55. 55
    Mr. Poppinfresh says:

    @burnspbesq: I get more of a “Timecube” vibe from matoko, TBH.

    “HYPERPOWER IS TIMECUBE FOUR DIMENSIONAL OPPRESSION. ALL HYPERPOWER = TRUTHLIES.”

  56. 56
    geg6 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Shorter me: Ellsberg was a patriot. Assange is an anarchist.

    This seriously might be the most arrogant and stupid thing said in this thread.

    Because, of course, you are completely able to discern the level of Assange’s “patriotism” (whatever the hell that means). And you get to be the judge and jury as to whether it meets whatever totally random definition of “unpatriotic” you have assigned to him.

    Gawd, what an asshole.

  57. 57
    suzanne says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Now, don’t be mean. We should be grateful that matoko takes time out from studying for the TOEFL to share her wisdom with us.

    But I truly appreciated the inimitable wit and candor it takes to call a nine-months-pregnant chick fat! I mean, WHERE DOES SHE COME UP WITH THIS STUFF?!

  58. 58
    burnspbesq says:

    @Stillwater:

    Did you skip over the earlier part of my comment, where I acknowledged that there are similarities between the two situations? Ellsberg seems to be so focused on the similarities that he is ignoring the differences. And I think the differences are more consequential than the damages. You’re welcome to disagree, but I would appreciate it if you would engage with the actual substance of my argument.

  59. 59
    Mike M says:

    Ellsberg made unauthorized copies of a secret Pentagon study of the Vietnam War that demonstrated that the Johnson Administration had lied to both Congress and the American people about its conduct of the war. Most recently, WikiLeaks distributed 250K confidential US State Department cables to multiple media outlets. It is not known whether WikiLeaks was an active party in stealing the cables or simply a passive recipiant.

    The fact that people have made similar accusations about both Ellsberg and Assange/WikiLeaks in not surprising. There are some similarities and some major distinctions. Ellsberg did in fact steal a secret government document and release it to the press. He was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, but the judge declared a mistrial due to gross prosecutorial misconduct. It is far from clear whether WikiLeaks can be charged under existing US law.

    But just because there are similarities in the two episodes doesn’t mean that they are the same, or that all the people criticizing WikiLeaks have the same motivations as those who criticized Ellsberg. Despite Ellsberg’s opinion, I believe that a thinking person can distinguish the two. The mere fact that WikiLeaks participated in distributing confidential government communications doesn’t put their actions beyond scrutiny.

    My fundamental objection to WikiLeaks actions so far has been that they have been indiscriminant. Rather than carefully filtering the information they received, they have decided instead to release it all and then let others decide what is of interest. Further, they have taken certain actions, such as releasing a list of 100 plus facilities that the US considers vital to its national security, that seem to have no ethical justification whatsoever in my view.

    I believe that the actions that Ellsberg took were both courageous and intrisically moral. While I support the idea of a whisleblower’s website, WikiLeaks actions in contrast have been morally ambiguous at best, and have perhaps put innocent people and critical facilities at greater risk than without their actions.

    I do not support anarchy. Still, I understand how people can cheer when a credit card processing system like MasterCard is taken offline. But the action is certain to harm thousands of small businesses and individuals who depend on access to credit for the livelihoods.

  60. 60
    burnspbesq says:

    @geg6:

    Again, straight to ad hominem without the slightest attempt to engage on substance.

    Is that all you got? Because it’s pathetic.

  61. 61
    burnspbesq says:

    @Mike M:

    Well said. Thank you.

  62. 62
    Stillwater says:

    @burnspbesq: (Sigh) You said there were substantive differences in the two cases. I responded by saying that Ellsberg is commenting on the treatment of Assange and how it parallels his own experience.

    Since you’re so clear about this, in what way do the attacks on Assange significantly differ from the attacks on Ellsberg?

  63. 63
    eemom says:

    @Mike M:

    Thirded. Thank you.

    You must be new to this blog — you seem to have a complete set of fully functional neurons.

    Please, I beg you — RUN, before it’s too late.

  64. 64
    geg6 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    You really aren’t as smart as you claim to be, are you?

    What the fuck substance of your post are you talking about? There WAS no substance. Just you proclaiming that you get to define what that loaded word “patriotism” is and whether or not Julian Assange has it (as he is an Australian, I really don’t think they look it quite the same way we Americans do [waves foam finger]). Second, perhaps his motivations are based on a larger and completely different morality than simply my country (or the USofA!), right or wrong. You have demonstrated over and over again here that you don’t have the first clue as to his motivations and that you really don’t care whether you do or not. You are just interested in pronouncing how right you are and how everyone from me to Assange to Ellsberg are wrong, wrong, wrong. But you can’t ever seem to back that up. Third, Ellsberg is saying that the treatment given him and that given Assange are parallel. What makes you the arbiter of the truth of this since you were not there with Ellsberg and you are not there with Assange right now?

    Personally, I’m fine with what Wikileaks has done and is doing and, hopefully, will continue to do. I am loving how it has all the authoritarians and the oligarchy freaking out. The more of that the better for all of us, even those of us who are so blind that they cannot see.

  65. 65
    Stillwater says:

    @Mike M: Dude, I think you’re a propaganda troll (government employee?). That throwaway line about ‘understanding’ how people could cheer the shut down of mastercard is the big tell.

  66. 66
    Calouste says:

    @Stillwater:

    You can lead a burnspbesq to facts but you can’t make him think.

  67. 67
    Calouste says:

    @eemom:
    __

    Thirded.

    Hint: the trick behind successfull sockpuppeteering is not to give the game away.

  68. 68
    Bob L says:

    /4chan involved, you mean Wikileaks is just the biggest troll ever? I get the vidision of LOLcatz facing down Darth Vader.

    The Intertubes has truly come of age.

  69. 69
    Andy K says:

    @geg6:

    …Ellsberg is saying that the treatment given him and that given Assange are parallel.

    @Stillwater:

    I responded by saying that Ellsberg is commenting on the treatment of Assange and how it parallels his own experience.

    From the OP:

    Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.” He continues: “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

    See the italicized bit? That’s where Ellsberg is wrong.

    Ellsberg stole and released a specific set of classified documents in order to end a war that was shown in those documents to be based on lies. There’s a fundamental difference between Ellsberg’s goals and those of Assange, who’s releasing secrets- lies or not- in order to prove his theory that he can shut down national security apparatuses worldwide by creating a positive feedback loop.

    Ellsberg was the kid shouting that the Emperor was wearing no clothes. Assange is Dr. Frankenstein. I wouldn’t mind it if Assange was simply telling us the Emperor was strutting down the street naked, but what he’s doing is attempting to play God, and his experiment in creation may go very, very wrong.

  70. 70
    Stillwater says:

    @Andy K: Got it. There is other content there that people are objecting to. Fair enough.

    But I think you want to say that it’s Ellsberg’s rejection of the PP=good, WL=bad oversimplification that you disagree with, not the italicized phrase. Otherwise, you’re saying you in fact do oppose “any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy”. And maybe you do, but that’s different argument than the one you made.

  71. 71
    Andy K says:

    @Stillwater:

    Actually, that’s where he really get’s it wrong. The most misguided, secretive foreign policy needs exposure. The well-guided, secretive foreign policy, though? The dumping of documents that report PRC ruminations on North Korea is just stupid. Releasing the docs concerning US intelligence on the relationship between Putin and Berlusconi? Stupid.

    Assange’s theory that he can break down national borders by destroying national security apparatuses isn’t without any merit, but from my reading of his essays, Assange didn’t think it out all that well. What might work in nations that have experienced their Runnymedes , Lexingtons & Concords and Stormings of Bastilles may not work in nations with traditions in Lefortovo Prisons, Siberias and Forbidden Palaces. Assange hasn’t figured human reaction into his theory.

    Assange is wearing the mask of Ellsberg, but he’s much more a Lenin, trying to force a revolution that may turn out much worse than if he let the situation evolve naturally.

    And now I’m going to be late for work. Flame on. :)

  72. 72
    matoko_chan says:

    @burnspbesq: assange is a quellist.
    @Andy K: only unjust states need fear Assanges system killer. the more unjust a regime is, the more vulnerable it is to a paranoia infection. that is not his theory.
    this is his theory.@Bob L: laff while u can, monkeyboi.

    Anonymous, a group of online activists representing what has been called the first “real grassroots Internet rebellion”, brought down part of MasterCard’s site Wednesday in revenge for its refusal to take donations to WikiLeaks.
    The attack, dubbed Operation: Payback, “was confirmed on Twitter at 9.39am [GMT] by user @Anon_Operation, who later tweeted: ‘WE ARE GLAD TO TELL YOU THAT http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN AND IT’S CONFIRMED! #ddos #wikileaks Operation:Payback(is a bitch!) #PAYBACK.'”
    (UPDATE: About 12 hours later the Visa.com site also went down and as of 21.30 p,m, it remains offline. In addition, payment processor Datacell has announced it will be suing Visa and Mastercard for suspending payment service to wikiLeaks)

  73. 73
    matoko_chan says:

    ack hidden link syndrome.
    moderated again.

  74. 74
    THE says:

    @Andy K:

    I also wasn’t impressed with leaking secret plans to defend the Baltic States and Poland. More collateral damage.

  75. 75
  76. 76
    burnspbesq says:

    @Stillwater:

    I’m looking at, and commenting on, the totality of the circumstances. Even if the attacks on Assange were substantially identical in every material respect to the attacks on Ellsberg, I would probably say “So?” Because the attacks aren’t the whole story, and if you allow them to become the whole story you miss out on a number of important things.

  77. 77
    burnspbesq says:

    @Stillwater:

    If you make the mistake of focusing on the attacks, you set up the following “logical” exercise:

    1. Ellsberg was a hero.
    2. The same forces that attacked Ellsberg are attacking Assange the same way.
    3. Therefore, Assange must be a hero.

    And that’s just false. I refuse to be suckered by it.

  78. 78
    THE says:

    @matoko_chan:

    only unjust states need fear Assanges system killer

    I don’t see that matoko.
    I don’t see why even purely defensive military policies aren’t endangered if secret plans are exposed.

    A person who leaks that information may be on the side of an aggressor.

  79. 79
    THE says:

    You know what just occurred to me? Maybe I’m wrong but…

    If wikileaks totally undermines even defensive alliances,
    by making it impossible to have secret plans for defense,
    then the only alternative is for everyone to have their own nuclear deterrent.
    Because it doesn’t rely on secrecy the same way.

    Maybe that is the only option in future.
    Maybe it is time to scrap the non-proliferation treaty.
    All nations will need nuclear weapons in this world of open information.
    Fortunately we have vast reserves of uranium.

  80. 80
    Stillwater says:

    @burnspbesq: Because the attacks aren’t the whole story, and if you allow them to become the whole story you miss out on a number of important things.

    Agreed. The attacks aren’t the whole story, but given focus of the OP, it certainly seemed like the story of this thread. And it appears to me that on this score the situations are strikingly similar.

    Re: the important things which make the situation between Ellsberg and Assange dissimilar is the following: their roles in exposing US activities to the public have nothing (zero) in common. Ellsberg was a government employee who stole documents. (That’s the role played in this current caper by Manning.) He found a publisher of those documents – the NYT (oddly enough, played again by the NYT, but also by Wikileaks). Assange is neither the publisher of a newspaper of record (so dissimilar to the NYT) nor is he a government employee who stole classified documents.

    So I agree with you about the relevant dissimilarities between Ellsberg and Assange. Other than the way they’ve been treated by the media and government, I really can’t think of any.

  81. 81
    eemom says:

    @Andy K:

    Ellsberg was the kid shouting that the Emperor was wearing no clothes. Assange is Dr. Frankenstein. I wouldn’t mind it if Assange was simply telling us the Emperor was strutting down the street naked, but what he’s doing is attempting to play God, and his experiment in creation may go very, very wrong.

    this too, spot on.

    @burnspbesq:

    And that’s just false.

    actually it doesn’t even deserve to be called “false.” What it is is an exercise in idiot-logic.

  82. 82
    singfoom says:

    @Mike M: This is just false. FALSE FALSE FALSE.

    Indiscriminate you say? Somehow, they found enough discrimination to work with their media partners (Der Spiegel, THe Guardian, NYTimes among others) enough before releasing the documents with the redactions of the newspapers included.

    Also, 960 cables have been released. Out of 251K. I think you need to check the definition of indiscriminate.

    I think the argument that releasing 960 is indiscriminate is absurd. Are you a Dadaist?

  83. 83
    Corner Stone says:

    @Perry Como: This. Is awesome.

  84. 84
    Stillwater says:

    @eemom: What it is is an exercise in idiot-logic.

    eemom, you’re very clever. You must have noticed that Burns put the word ‘logical’ in scare quotes.

  85. 85
    Stillwater says:

    WikiLeaks cables: Consult us before using intelligence to commit war crimes, US tells Uganda

    The US told Uganda to let it know when the army was going to commit war crimes using American intelligence – but did not try to dissuade it from doing so, the US embassy cables suggest.

  86. 86
    matoko_chan says:

    @suzanne: i did not call you fat.
    i called you stupid.
    can’t you read?
    @eemom:

    as opposed to swinging their look-how-tough-I-am girl-dicks around for public admiration

    that is a cool thing about cyber-space….even grrls can have an eepeen.
    :)

  87. 87
    burnspbesq says:

    @matoko_chan:

    “that is a cool thing about cyber-space….even grrls can have an eepeen.
    :)”

    Yours is tiny and you come too fast. ;-)

  88. 88
    matoko_chan says:

    @burnspbesq: heh
    in wow at least i haz massive pvpness.
    :)
    mr. burns, why so cranky?
    behold! the chanese are attacking La Palin.

  89. 89
    Stillwater says:

    Everyday, this Dutch guy I work with tells me about how the ground is shaking in Europe because of the cables, because they reveal US lies and deceptions and bad acts. And everyday, I tell him that if you’ve been paying attention at all for the last 60 years, there is nothing these cables could reveal, but only confirm. How can there be anything so shocking as to make the ground shake?

    But I have to say – reading these cables is a fucking shocking experience. It’s like a portrait of the sociopathology of state-craft.

  90. 90
    Patrick Meighan says:

    @Mike M: Most recently, WikiLeaks distributed 250K confidential US State Department cables to multiple media outlets.

    Bzzt. Factually incorrect. Just flat out false. That makes you ignorant, as are the folks who seconded you and thirded you, evidently.

    “My fundamental objection to WikiLeaks actions…”

    …would be of more interest were you not fundamentally ignorant of Wikileaks’s actions.

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA

  91. 91
    Stillwater says:

    @matoko_chan:

    “No wonder others are keeping silent about Assange’s antics,” Palin emailed. “This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.”

    She’s pure genius, all the way down.

  92. 92
    burnspbesq says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Cranky? Moi? Mais non! Ma chere Matoko, tu me donne la joie hors description.

  93. 93
    THE says:

    in wow at least i haz massive pvpness.

    IRL too matoko_chan. I have scars.

  94. 94
    Andy K says:

    @Stillwater:

    But I think you want to say that it’s Ellsberg’s rejection of the PP=good, WL=bad oversimplification that you disagree with, not the italicized phrase. Otherwise, you’re saying you in fact do oppose “any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy”. And maybe you do, but that’s different argument than the one you made.

    Maybe you and I are reading this differently. Allow me to clarify: I don’t think that releasing misguided foreign policy secrets is bad. I think that’s good. I think that Wikileaks is bad in spite of the fact that I think that some of what they release is good.

    The reason I think this relates to something else that’s popped up on this thread since I left.

    @singfoom:

    Also, 960 cables have been released. Out of 251K. I think you need to check the definition of indiscriminate.

    You see, according to Assange’s theory, it really doesn’t matter how much you release, but how much you take from the realm of the security apparatus. The more that’s taken from the apparatus, the more the apparatus reacts by dividing itself- expect the whole SIPRNet to split into component parts soon- and when there’s a leak in one of the components, it divides itself again. So after a while, instead of having one huge monster of a conspiracy, you’ve got hundreds. This is what Assange refers to ‘separating the conspiracy’. And by forcing leaks through the tools on which the conspiracy depends now to communicate quickly- the internet, cell phones, fax machines- those separated bits of the conspiracy stop using those means of communication, the separated bits of the conspiracy can’t communicate with each other. This what Assange refers to as ‘throttling the conspiracy’.

    (Now this is all well and fine if you believe that the conspiracy is capable of nothing but malignancy, but what if, say, a geologist form Cal Tech who specializes in plate tectonics discovers an especially weak spot in a fault zone that might trigger an Atlantis scenario for the western part of California if hit with a nuke? Is that something that we want the whole world to know right away? Would it be immoral to hide this? If it’s something you believe best kept under wraps, is it cool for Assange to have completely fucked up our ability to keep that secret?)

    So if this is what Assange is attempting to do- and I’ve read the essays where he outlines this- why is he releasing any documents at all? Well, it’s pretty simply explained: He gets his ass covered in the US by the First Amendment, and he gains the support of those who seem to believe that his only aim is to expose governmental malignancy.

  95. 95
    THE says:

    I don’t know why anyone thinks this is all about America.
    What is happening to US government secrets today is happening to everyone else’s tomorrow.

    Rejoice at USA’s embarrassment if you like, but every government on Earth is probably even more vulnerable than USA.
    Except those few totalitarian states most focused on web security and cyberwarfare.

    Also, Wikileaks is focused on bringing down the security state.
    But Wikileaks will have countless imitators in the near future with all sorts of different agendas.

    e.g. I don’t see a single reason why organized crime won’t grab this technology with both hands.

  96. 96
    Stillwater says:

    @Andy K: If I’m reading you right, you think WL is bad because of the corrosive effects on our ability to keep the good secrets. Is that right? Or is your worry that some legitimate, non-conspiratorial national security secrets have already been leaked and will get published? (Or both!)

    @THE: Wikileaks isn’t a technology: it’s a concept. And organized crime already understands it pretty fucking well.

  97. 97
    matoko_chan says:

    @burnspbesq: peut etre….mais je crois que tu es un tete du merde, comme presque toute de monde ici maintenaut.

  98. 98
    THE says:

    tu es un tete du merde, comme presque toute de monde ici maintenaut

    Maybe we just don’t see our governments as our enemies like you do.
    Maybe we worry about our country’s national security.

    Maybe we would kill and even die for our country, if required to, by the government we chose as a democratic people.

  99. 99
    Caravelle says:

    THE :

    What is happening to US government secrets today is happening to everyone else’s tomorrow.

    French person here : I damn well hope so.

  100. 100
    Caravelle says:

    Andy K :

    So if this is what Assange is attempting to do- and I’ve read the essays where he outlines this- why is he releasing any documents at all? Well, it’s pretty simply explained: He gets his ass covered in the US by the First Amendment, and he gains the support of those who seem to believe that his only aim is to expose governmental malignancy.

    That makes no sense. The First Amendment would indeed cover releasing the documents, but either it covers the taking of them (that Assange didn’t do btw; he collected them) as well or it doesn’t. If it does then he doesn’t need to release them to be protected. If it doesn’t then releasing them won’t protect him.

    It’s also ridiculous that you try to single out a single motivation for Assange, as though he was a robot or as if there weren’t many people working together on Wikileaks. There’s nothing inconsistent in taking and releasing the information for many different reasons.

  101. 101
    THE says:

    Do what you want to your own government.
    Just don’t harm mine.

  102. 102
    Caravelle says:

    THE :

    I don’t see that matoko.
    I don’t see why even purely defensive military policies aren’t endangered if secret plans are exposed.

    A person who leaks that information may be on the side of an aggressor.

    If you’re afraid of the dissemination of the “good” secrets you should definitely be supporting Wikileaks. Because the fact is at the moment in the US at least the use of secrecy is completely out of control : a staggering amount of information that has no reason to be secret is made so, and this means they need to give clearance to a big (and shall I say indiscriminate) number of people just so they can function, and that’s when you get a private leaking diplomatic cables he shouldn’t even have had access to if they were that secret. If you want your system to keep secrets, it needs to be able to tell what information should be kept secret and keep that on a strictly need-to-know basis. And if too many people need to know, then it’s simply not viable as a secret.

    Such a system would be much less vulnerable to leaks (not completely invulnerable, but nothing is) because the real secrets would be known by people who have been vetted at a high level, who got to that point in the first place because they want to serve their country. In fact these would be the people you’d trust to tell a good secret from a bad one and only leak the latter. Of course there could be informants at that level, but those informants wouldn’t leak to Wikileaks, they’d leak to the foreign government who got them into such a trusted position in the first place.

    This is not the state of the US right now. It’s not going to be reformed by writing a letter to the President who will go “OMG I hadn’t realized” and immediately appoint the right people to reform the system. In fact the incentives are all wrong for internal reform : like the security theater problem, nobody will object to more things being classified but nobody wants to be the one who relaxed classification criteria the day before something goes wrong.

    This means the system needs an external impetus to reform, something to show it that its current method of keeping secrets isn’t working. Wikileaks is doing that. Assange seems to think the system will collapse; I think it will reform before that happens, institutions don’t collapse that easily. If it does collapse that will mean it really was that resistant to reform, so all the better that it’s gone and a more sensible system can be put in its place.

  103. 103
    Caravelle says:

    THE :

    Do what you want to your own government.
    Just don’t harm mine.

    Awww pwecious widdle US guvwent, who wud want to hawm youuuu?
    It’s not like yours has any problem harming anyone else including its own citizens.

  104. 104
    THE says:

    I don’t care about the leak of US information.
    USA is a bankrupt fading power just like Europe.

    But the releases have also harmed my country’s national interest with the publication of that assets list
    that included important economic assets inside my country.

  105. 105
    Caravelle says:

    In addition, payment processor Datacell has announced it will be suing Visa and Mastercard for suspending payment service to wikiLeaks

    Now that sounds sensible. Are there any grounds for a suit ?

  106. 106
    Andy K says:

    @Stillwater:

    Or both!

    @Caravelle:

    The First Amendment would indeed cover releasing the documents, but either it covers the taking of them (that Assange didn’t do btw; he collected them) as well or it doesn’t.

    Really? You think? Is someone covered if they receive state secrets and pass them on to a foreign government, whether they stole them or not?

    I don’t think First Amendment coverage is as broad as you think. Hell, as a matter of fact, the whole ‘…shouting fire in a crowded theater…’ analogy was from the majority opinion from the SCOTUS that upheld the conviction- under the Espionage Act of 1917- of an author who published his own screed on conscientious objection during World War I. If the SCOTUS can rule that the state has a compelling interest to infringe upon speech in that case, it’s quite easy to imagine that the SCOTUS, composed now as it is, would uphold a conviction of Assange under the Espionage Act on those same grounds, more or less.

  107. 107
    Caravelle says:

    I don’t think First Amendment coverage is as broad as you think.

    I actually don’t know how broad First Amendment coverage is, which is why my argument didn’t depend on that. You’re the one who said Assange released the documents just to be protected by the First Amendment. I’m saying this makes no sense, whatever the level of protection the First Amendment gives. Unless you’re saying the First Amendment protects you from things not covered by the First Amendment, which is way broader than I think actually.

    You seem to think I’m making some kind of argument on the legal grounds the US has to go against Wikileaks. I have posted some comments on the subject but this wasn’t one of them. I was just responding to the part of your post I’d quoted.

  108. 108
    matoko_chan says:

    @Caravelle: THE is in Oz.
    Oztralia.

  109. 109
    Svensker says:

    @Andy K:

    Really? You think? Is someone covered if they receive state secrets and pass them on to a foreign government, whether they stole them or not?

    The AIPAC guys who were passing secrets to the Israeli government had the charges dismissed. I’m sure Joe Lieberman was all outraged about it.

  110. 110
    matoko_chan says:

    All:
    chopping off the snakes head never works when the snake is a hydra.

    Anonymous also set up Facebook and Twitter accounts promoting awareness of their mission and links to tools to carry out the DDoSs.
    The group’s Facebook account was closed first; shortly thereafter, according to some reports, Anonymous began leaking what it claimed were MasterCard credit card numbers to its Twitter account. The Twitter account was shut down in short order, as well.
    Since DDoS attacks aren’t exactly legal, and a group organizing and promoting DDoS attacks on major financial and tech institutions isn’t exactly legal, either, it’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter have swiftly shut the accounts down.
    However, WikiLeaks’s own Twitter and Facebook accounts remain operational.
    Of course, Anonymous is expected to keep creating new accounts as quickly as Facebook and Twitter squash them; it’s a bit like Whack-a-Mole or doing battle with a hydra, in that sense. Fighting Anonymous is a task we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  111. 111
    Caravelle says:

    THE is in Oz.

    Oh. Sorry about that, THE, I shouldn’t have made assumptions. Although in that case I’m a bit confused by the “do what you want to your own government”, what with Assange being Australian and all.

  112. 112
    Andy K says:

    @Svensker:

    In a statement Friday, Acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said the government moved to dismiss the charges after concluding that pretrial rulings would make it too difficult for the government to prove its case.

    Boente also said he was worried that classified information would be disclosed at trial.

    U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III had made several rulings — upheld by appellate courts earlier this year — that prosecutors worried would make it almost impossible to obtain a guilty verdict. Among them was a requirement that the government would have to prove that Rosen and Weissman knew they were harming the United States by trading sensitive national defense information with U.S. government officials, reporters and an Israeli diplomat.

    Depending on how much a case against him might hinge upon Assange’s foreknowledge that he would harm the US, I don’t think the same would apply to him. His essays spell out exactly how he’s trying to harm the US.

  113. 113
    eemom says:

    @Andy K:

    fwiw, there is a little epilogue to the AIPAC story that has received even less press coverage than the original charges: it fired Rosen (supposedly as a quid pro quo for DOJ dropping the charges) and is now embroiled in gazillion dollar nasty litigation with him that is reportedly bleeding it dry and kneecapping its ability to perpetrate its Iran warmongering. So sez MJ Rosenberg over at TPM Cafe, who keeps a close eye on all that stuff.

  114. 114
    Andy K says:

    @eemom:

    That’s funny!

    And irony was supposed to be dead….

  115. 115
    THE says:

    @Caravelle,
    Assange is Australian.
    Our Attorney-General says our Federal Police are still investigating whether he has broken any of our laws
    So far they have not charged him.
    He has asked for consular protection from our government through his lawyers, and he is entitled to that.

    So far his attacks are mainly on the US government.
    But we have suffered some collateral damage from the release of US information.
    All governments are at risk from his “concept” (as Stillwater called it).
    I believe our government considers him to be a huge embarrassment, at this stage,
    and at least a potential threat.

    I do not support any attacks on my government.
    I am concerned about his attacks on other governments.
    I do not accept Assange’s analysis, in general.
    I think people seriously underestimate the long term damage it will cause,
    even if some of it is useful to the progressive cause.
    It is indiscriminate.

    It has the potential to cause much harm – even irreversible damage to the world order.
    It is possible to miscalculate and cause catastrophic change.
    We live in an age with terrible weapons.
    The cost of serious miscalculation could be devastating to humanity.

    Especially where diplomatic cables are concerned.
    Where the risk of collateral damage to other than the target government are so high.
    When you release a diplomatic cable, you are often harming two governments
    even if only one of them is your target.

  116. 116
    Stillwater says:

    @Caravelle:

    This means the system needs an external impetus to reform, something to show it that its current method of keeping secrets isn’t working. Wikileaks is doing that. Assange seems to think the system will collapse; I think it will reform before that happens, institutions don’t collapse that easily. If it does collapse that will mean it really was that resistant to reform, so all the better that it’s gone and a more sensible system can be put in its place.

    This my take on it as well. The first thing worriers of WL have to remind themselves of is that, as you say, ‘institutions don’t collapse that easily’. And if they do, if they really are that fragile, then they ought to be swept away. Another thing that I completely agree with is that WL is forcing the US to revise it’s protocols regarding, and access to, internal communications. (As a side note, I’ve been wondering if Cheney-Rumsfeld thesis of ‘intelligence sharing’ is playing a role here: they streamlined internal communications, making them all available within a single department, which ironically leads to greater access to those wishing to leak that data.)

    Finally, WL provides an important function independently of Assange’s ideological goals: some of these communications expose serious crimes, collusion in crimes, etc., but also the seamy side of state=craft that voter/citizens really ought (normative ought) to know about.

    In the end, I think WL will achieve some of its goals (a weakening of conspiratorial power) and the US will tighten up an ossified and ridiculous system of communication overly dependent on secrecy. Then the game will start all over again.

  117. 117
    Stillwater says:

    And as a side note, I really wish this thread was still current: there’s lots of fascinating stuff to talk about re: WL as a clearing house for leaked info., the viability – or even coherence – of Assange’s theories, the hacker attacks from Anonymous. Lots of good stuff to talk about.

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