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More Assange

2010-12-01 22:59:46.276518+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Charlie Stross proposes that Julian Assange should get the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize:

Wikileaks is not attacking the US government; rather, it's acting to degrade the ability of pressure groups to manipulate the US government to their own ends. Those who benefit the most from their ability to manipulate the State Department are the most angry about this: autocratic middle eastern leaders, authoritarian right-wing politicians, royalty, corporate cartels. Those of us who are scratching our heads and going "huh?" about the significance of Muammar Ghadaffi's botox habit are missing the point: it's not about the content, but about the implication that the powerful can no longer count on their ability to lie to the public without being called on it.

And points to zunguzungu: Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government”.

... anyone who was surprised that our embassies are doing dirty, secretive, and disingenuous political work as a matter of course is naïve. But Assange is not trying to produce a journalistic scandal which will then provoke red-faced government reforms or something, precisely because no one is all that scandalized by such things any more. Instead, he is trying to strangle the links that make the conspiracy possible, to expose the necessary porousness of the American state’s conspiratorial network in hopes that the security state will then try to shrink its computational network in response, thereby making itself dumber and slower and smaller.

[ related topics: Politics Weblogs broadband History moron Work, productivity and environment Conspiracy Government ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 00:28:56.622758+00 by: other_todd

I really do wish I could manage to be less angry about the fact that so many of my peers disagree with me on this.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 01:19:29.095813+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I've been puzzling over your reaction to it as well, because I respect your opinion a lot, and wonder what I'm missing.

The effect of this leak on the Iran situation is a big toss-up. It could strengthen Ahmadinejad, or it could show the U.S. as exercising a lot of restraint in a situation where what Iran formerly thought were it's allies are pushing for pugnacity.

Pakistan scares me more.

But in general, and especially in the North Korea situation, I think that we've got a whole lot of clueless fucks and political appointees in the U.S. State Department and our diplomatic corps doing roughly the equivalent of April Glaspie's "We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts", saying stupid things in an effort to not hurt the feelings of toddlers, which lead to worse.

What's the matter with saying "Hey, China, let's be honest: You want North Korea, go ahead."?

So, yeah, as I tweeted, I see that agreeing with the Wikileaks puts me solidly in the camp of those who think various branches of our government are incompetent at a level that would shock a Tea Partier, and this concerns me. On the other hand, I keep seeing evidence that, in the case of our State Department and intelligence agencies, this seems to be the case.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 03:20:26.168194+00 by: other_todd

I think the problem is that I keep hearing the idea from peers that revealing these diplomatic comms accomplished some sort of useful purpose, and for the life of me I can't see that it did.

Part of the problem is that I don't see how it revealed any sort of scandal, sleazery, or skullduggery - I don't see evidence anywhere in there that State was doing anything WRONG. Just business as usual, and if anyone is surprised that diplomats sometimes have to get their hands dirty, well, that's naive.

People are talking this up as if a great light was shone upon some cesspool of corrupt behavior, and I'm not seeing what that corruption was. All I see are diplomats - whom I generally believe to be doing good and honest work - having their jobs suddenly made a little bit harder by this. Is that a worthwhile cause?

And from there it seems to descend into, "Well, we tend to assume that State is up to no good because we tend to assume that all branches of our government are essentially up to no good, and we should toss a monkey wrench into their works whenever possible just as a matter of principle" - and that is a conceptual gap I cannot cross. I mean, that's such a stark disconnect that it leaves me with no words whatsoever, no possible way to begin to address the cognitive dissonance, no way to have a discussion.

As I said elsewhere: I am prepared to believe the US government is incompetent in all aspects, no evidence needed. I'm NOT prepared to believe they are malicious or sinister unless you give me specific evidence that they're up to no good in a particular area. I've noted several places, for example, that we can't possibly shine enough daylight on Iraq - we'll be sorting through the slime there for another decade.

But diplomats getting their working instructions and comparing State gossip? What possible reason could there have been to expose all that except malice (and now I mean malice on Assange's part)?

Is the problem simply that I trust the US's diplomatic operations and intentions more than my peers do?

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 03:22:46.223933+00 by: other_todd

P.S. North Korea is a separate topic, but the problem is that China doesn't want it. My personal feeling is that if China wanted the land, we'd have let them take it years ago with just a token protest, and in private both the US and South Korea would have wiped their brows in relief. SK has noted many times that they cannot possibly deal with the repatriation and relief burden should Korea be reunified.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 06:09:47.109007+00 by: mkelley

I don't see how he could get the peace prize for possibly starting a few wars. What he's doing is not noble nor Nobel-worthy. Who did his release help besides the dying news industry? If he likes "transparency", then open up the books of WikiLeaks and let us see what comes out.

#Comment Re: Censoring of the Internet? made: 2010-12-02 11:28:17.373633+00 by: jeff

Much like 9/11 took away certain freedoms, is it possible that this could become a watershed event which eventually leads to wholesale censureship of Internet content?

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 14:58:59.726646+00 by: m [edit history]

Our government is out of control. The war in Iraq was started on the basis of lies not unlike Hitler's invasion of Poland. The executive branch has been willing to expose its own intelligence apparatus in order to support those lies.

The invasion of Afghanistan putatively started as an attempt to seize bin Laden, though it was obvious the military did everything they could to avoid capturing him. Now that war has turned into an attack on a religious movement there that will only make them more fundamentalist. There was no reason for the attack in the first place, as the Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over if the US could show some legal basis for extradition, which the US refused to do and invaded instead.

The executive branch refuses to follow court orders even to the point of destroying specific evidence. We torture. Innocents as well as those possibly guilty. We try to hide that information from ourselves. The States Secrets Privilege was invoked to keep the innocent Maher Arar from seeking legal remedy for the illegal kidnapping and transport to Syria for torture. The rest of the world knows this story, so there is no secret. It is only the population of the US that this information is being withheld from.

In short, our government is damaging the world, our nation, our citizens and our Constitution. Wikileaks is only a small effort at piercing the "governmental veil". I can only hope that this effort spawns many additional such exposures.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-02 15:03:18.386454+00 by: m

@mkelley, Wikileaks to wikileak itself