Tough Crowd

Barrett Brown

I am the founder of the distributed think-tank Project PM and a regular inactive to Vanity Fair and Skeptical Inquirer. My work has also appeared in The Onion, National Lampoon, New York Press, D Magazine, Skeptic, McSweeney's, American Atheist, and a couple of newspapers in the U.S. and Mexico as well as a few policy journals. I'm the author of two books and serve as a consultant to various political entities and private clients.

Related Post Roulette

73 Responses

  1. “Only an extremist fringe 22% of the population think Wikileaks is helpful.

    Are these your words, Barrett, or his? In either case 22% = “extremist fringe”?

    Wow. Just wow.Report

  2. I was trying to explain the whole WikiLeaks and Anonymous thing to a 50-something co-worker last night, and she kept getting hung up on the very idea of Anonymous. For about fifteen minutes, she asked me questions like, Is Assange the leader? If WikiLeaks is good then why do all the newscasters keep saying it’s so bad? Finally, I just answered that people who actually know what is going on support WikiLeaks. People who have no idea what’s going on (on the Internets) think WikiLeaks is evil. Is this a fair assessment of the situation? Or am I being really, really glib? I can understand not supporting particular actions of WikiLeaks. I can understand demanding that Assange be called to account at trial for his alleged crimes. I cannot understand adopting the moral position that disrupting activities on some websites is a worse offense than six-figure civilian death tolls in Iraq.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      That’s exactly correct. There is a correlation between having factual knowledge about Wikileaks and what it has released in the years it has been around and one’s support of Wikileaks. This is not to say that everyone who knows everything about Wikileaks will support it, but rather that there is a marked discrepancy in knowledge between those who oppose the organization and those who support it (even with reservations, such as our fellow contributor Jason as well as Erik himself).Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      I was trying to explain the whole WikiLeaks and Anonymous thing to a 50-something co-worker last night, and she kept getting hung up on the very idea of Anonymous. For about fifteen minutes, she asked me questions like, Is Assange the leader?

      Anonymous is a collection of appealing incentives. Incentives motivate people. Which people? All people. Seems to explain it rather completely.Report

      • Barrett Brown in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        That’s probably the best way I’ve seen it put, certainly more helpful than any way in which I’ve put it.Report

      • I mean, I get that. But most people simply don’t, I think. So, how do we mass-market it? Or do we not?Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          Gregg Housh has done literally dozens of interviews over the past week in order to convince those who are open to convincing that Anonymous is a force for good, and meanwhile I’ve tried to make the same case to different audiences while also establishing direct connections between him and his faction and other, more “respectable” figures who have shown themselves to be not only sympathetic but interested in making that case in turn. Anyone who is not wedded to the concept of divine right of social democracies and dictatorships is a potential recruit.Report

      • Gorgias in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Can you elaborate a bit more? What incentives do you see motivating Anonymous?Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Finally, I just answered that people who actually know what is going on support WikiLeaks. People who have no idea what’s going on (on the Internets) think WikiLeaks is evil. Is this a fair assessment of the situation? Or am I being really, really glib?

      You’re being glib. Unless you want to define “people who actually know what is going on” as “people who agree with me.” I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, and I’m very conflicted on Wikileaks. I think the secrecy of government is so overdone that maybe Wikileaks is necessary. On the other hand, I think a lot of Wikileaks’ supporters don’t really know what’s going on in the information-gathering world, so that a lot of the claims of “no damage done,” sound astonishingly naive to me.Report

      • One can think that something is necessary without disputing the fact that there are negative consequences to having that thing around.

        I’m not terribly conflicted by Wikileaks, for two reasons: it’s filling a role that is going to be filled, and by and large I think that role is itself useful when taken in aggregate.

        Sure, some of the criticisms of Wikileaks are valid to a degree (I happen to agree with Jaybird, that Wikileaks is going to be more of a pain in America’s ass than say, China’s, at least at the present incarnation), but I expect this to wash out over time as other organizations like Wikileaks start filling those roles. I expect that this is an emerging role in the evolution of the Internet, the post-mass media information channel, and I don’t expect this current version of it to look like what it looked like 5 years ago or bear much resemblance to what it is going to look like 5 years from now.Report

      • Well I think there is a difference in opposing WikiLeaks in principle and opposing it in practice. There is room for reasonable people to argue about whether or not WikiLeaks as a particular entity has done some terrible things, although I would argue that the good things WikiLeaks has done far outweigh the bad things. In terms of the general phenomenon of which both WIkiLeaks and Anonymous are a part, I think the media in our society should play the role of Tribune of the People, and the existence of WikiLeaks is necessary because the traditional media has failed in that role, having become little more than an echo chamber for the dominant corporate-government interests of a few highly-organized entities.

        By opposing WikiLeaks in principle, one either (1.) thinks the traditional mainstream media is doing a great job exposing the truth and presenting it for public discourse; or (2.) doesn’t think there is a need for the people to know what’s going on in our democratic government. Perhaps my logic here is flawed, but I still can’t help but come to the conclusion that opposition to WikiLeaks in principle is born of ignorance.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      “Finally, I just answered that people who actually know what is going on support WikiLeaks. ”

      Nice, an Argument from Authority to support an indefensible position.

      If you can’t explain something to a reasonable person, then maybe you don’t understand it as well as you ought to.Report

  3. E.C. Gach says:

    Agreed. I sympathize Brown.

    I don’t consider myself well educated about Wikileaks at all. Though judging from what you guys have said about the level of knowledge regarding the controversy, having spent a miserly 60 minutes going over some of the back and forth at Slate, Salon, The Atlantic, and here apparently puts me into that “22% fringe.”

    In a basic way, you can either believe that this transparency will help reverse what I view as a misguided foreign policy on the part of the U.S., or argue that the foreign policy is correct and needed, and that Wikileak’s actions will endanger that foreign policy and the people directly involved in its implementation.

    Either blame Assange for possibly having endangered some people, or blame the elements within the U.S. government that have put these people in situations where leaks like this would possibly endanger them. I choose the latter.Report

  4. Ihatewhiners says:

    I guess you are following ED Kain’s example in accepting an invitation to blog at another blog and then shit talking the people at that blog at the League. Wonderful. This should be the motto of the League – “shit-talking other blogs we are invited to”. If you have a problem with the people at a particular blog in which you post, take it there. Don’t come back to the League and whine. Whiners the lot of you.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to Ihatewhiners says:

      I actually wrote a post there explaining my position and inviting them to read and comment on this, which is to say I’ve done exactly the thing you’ve said I should have done, but that won’t satisfy you.Report

      • Ihatewhiners in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        But why do they have to be invited here to read it? Can’t you discuss it over there? Or like ED, are you too afraid of hostile commenters? Or like ED, you think that the other blog is not good enough for your wonderful talent to be wasted, so you have to post you brilliant dissection of the issue here at the League. Hints ED and Barrett: if you think you are too good for something, don’t do that something. Just stick with posting at the League .Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Ihatewhiners says:

          Like so many others, dude, you display a very unhealthy obsession with me.Report

          • Ihatewhiners in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            Obsession? Please, don’t flatter yourself. I just hate people who lord it over others and think they are so much better than anyone else. Why did you accept the invitation to blog at BJ? Because of the higher traffic? Or because you enjoy the feeling of thinking that you are so much better than everyone there? I think the latter. Some people enjoy hanging out with people they personally think is beneath them because it makes them feel better about themselves. I’m the sanest, bestest, most intelligent poster there! I’m awesome! The problem is, other people can always tell when they are being condescended to. And the people there (other front pagers as well as the commenters) can tell that you hold them in absolute contempt.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Ihatewhiners says:

              Nah dude. You just come across as obsessed. It’s kind of creepy actually.Report

            • Scott in reply to Ihatewhiners says:


              Good point. Both Barrett and E.D. seem surprised that we all don’t fawn over them for sharing their holy gospel truth with us. God forbid someone should disagree with them and tell them so. At least E.D. doesn’t break down and have a potty mouth like Barrett does when you disagree, which I must add removes any credibility he has (or had). Not to mention the ridiculous amount of self promotion that now take place on this board. Hey, let me post another article I wrote on another website.Report

      • ChenZhen in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        I’m looking around, and so far I don’t see that they’ve accepted your invitation.

        Ihatewhiners makes a good point. If the issue is the criticism that you’re getting from the LGFers, then take it to the LGFers. Why would you be compelled to back down and try to take the discussion over here “out of respect for Charles and his readers”?

        Killgore and the gang aren’t going to come over here. Trust me.Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to ChenZhen says:

          I don’t know, but seeing as how you yourself have written a blog post about me and all of this, which is in turn filled with comments about my career and my various associations and even my hair, I’m not sure you make the best analyst of the situation.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Ihatewhiners says:

      Quit whining Ihatewhiners.Report

    • In defense of blogging practices in general, there are times when one is writing a comment, and other times when one is writing a post.

      I haven’t ever been invited to write a post at another blog, but if I was, and someone took a particular interest in that one post, I may or may not reply with a blog post at my own blog.

      This has nothing to do with being “afraid of the commentariat” at any particular blog. It has to do with the subject at hand, and the dissemination of the discussion to various audiences. “The Commentariat” can certainly follow a link. That’s sort of the whole point of HTML and the web that spawned it -> you link the information together. Where it lives is besides the point.

      P.S. -> I find it highly amusing that your visit here, under the pseudonym “Ihatewhiners”, is merely to leave a comment whining about another person’s actions.Report

  5. Ihatewhiners says:

    Have you appointed yourself the “ombudman” of LGF ala ED yet?Report

  6. tom van dyke says:

    I don’t think you have the “civil disobedience” thing quite right, Barrett.

    There’s a difference between disobeying unjust laws and violating just laws for some greater “moral purpose.” Your “ethics” are as yet undefined, even in your own mind.Report

  7. ppnl says:

    I am not clear on what law wikileaks has broken. One may have any number of ethical, moral or political problems with them but does any of that justify the call for death squads? I would think their ethics hold up well compared to people who defend waterboarding some dumb jerk 87 times.Report

    • mark boggs in reply to ppnl says:

      Exactly. As some other astute person pointed out on this very blog, it leads one to wonder if someone in the US is given access to Chinese state secrets and that person disseminates those secrets, is this US citizen somehow guilty of treason under Chinese law? And how exactly does that get sorted out?

      Now, as to who gave the folks at wikileaks the info? Now that’s a whole ‘nother story. But if it keeps government accountable for their stupidity, I’m all for it.Report

  8. Andy Smith says:

    The criticism of Wikileaks I hear again and again is that it has dumped all these data online indiscriminately, a nuclear bomb if you will instead of Smart missiles. It’s one thing to reveal dirty dark secrets, another to regard them all as equally deserving of seeing the light of day. If I understand Assange’s position correctly, he has no plan going forward (if it is even meaningful to talk about a direction in this context), but simply has faith that the more things that are known by more people (who already suffer from information overload, I would say), the better off we will be.

    Is that a correct assessment? Are we talking about the wisdom of crowds here, a kind of pure democracy? But doesn’t history suggest that if chaos disrupts a system, it is just as likely to be taken over by some other centralized, authoritative regime, not necessarily an improvement over the original? Barrett, what do you see as the best case scenario emerging from this? The overthrow of the U.S government as we know it, or just major reforms? I seriously don’t know where Assange and his supporters stand here.

    Back in the 60s, we were accused of trying to tear down the system without having any idea of what was to take its place. Of course that can be seen as a justification for the status quo, but lessons from evolution suggest that the larger and more complex a system is, the more difficult it is to make major changes to it that are not lethal. We can look back and see if development had taken a different direction at a certain point, we might be in a very different position, but that doesn’t mean that position is attainable now.

    You will appreciate that I’m trying to play the devil’s advocate a little here.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to Andy Smith says:

      > Lessons from evolution suggest that the larger and more complex
      > a system is, the more difficult it is to make major changes to it that
      > are not lethal.

      Devil’s Advocate to the Devil’s Advocate: if we’re operating inside a framework where one accepts that your analogy is relevant, then we have to ask: is it relevant because of the consequence, or is it relevant because of the situation itself?

      Put more clearly: if we’re looking at Wikileaks as an evolutionary step between “governments pre-Internet” and “governments post-Internet”… and you’re asking whether or not we can make changes to the government without killing it, isn’t the real question: “Isn’t it time for a K-T extinction event for the current iteration of the State/Citizen dynamic?”

      Because if there’s an even more fundamental lesson to be learned from evolution than the one you state here, it’s this: the biosphere is going to change whether you want it to change or not. You can evolve and survive (albeit perhaps in a completely different form), or you can die out. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most beautiful bird in the history of birds, the preservation of your species is not a goal that the biosphere supports. Adapt, or die.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    Here’s my criticism of Wikileaks.

    The nature of many of the leaks were, as one of my good friends (hey Fish!) put it: Less “Pentagon Papers”, more “Mean Girls”.

    As such, these leaks embarassed the US Diplomatic corps more than it damaged it… which brings us to whether embarassment qualifies as damage when it comes to diplomacy *AND*, on top of that, the English-language bias of the site that will necessarily cause embarassment (and, perhaps, associated damage) to English-speaking countries far more often than non-English-Speaking countries.

    Put another way, this seems like it’s a website that will do damage to America under the guise of transparency… without having the scope to provide similar transparency to countries like China, Russia… any number of countries that, let’s face it, aren’t anywhere *NEAR* as transparent BY DEFAULT as the US.

    That bugs me.Report

    • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

      Not sure I get this. What is stopping wikileaks from publishing documents they get from someone in Russia or China? For example, it has opened up the extent that Shell Oil has corrupted Nigeria’s gov’t (

      If documents do come out from these countries, wikileaks has established that they are independent of the US.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

        Well, the English bias certainly isn’t *STOPPING* them from publishing documents that they get from someone in Russia or China.

        It’s likely stopping them from *READING* the documents in the first place, however.

        Let’s say that they got a document written in Chinese that said “Liu Xiaobo has been found to have committed many murders of people and was the person who put all of that cardboard stuff in the baby formula and that’s the real reason they were in jail.”

        So he publishes it without having read it… then what?

        It’s *EASIER* to publish English documents that were written in English.Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to Jaybird says:

      Assange’s response to a similar criticism (in an interview with the editor of Time mag) was something about the U.S.’s unique asymmetry when it comes to information creation, collection, and classification.

      He also noted that Russia and China will be next, though that remains to be seen. For the very reason that they are more closed off, it is probably harder for an organization like Wikileaks to get people to leak them documents.

      It’s interesting that Assange has become the focus in the MSM narrative, but the private who actually gave Wikileaks the documents isn’t being given as much attention.

      Are there Chinese and Russian equivalents with access to information who are willing to give it to Assange? I suspect his focus on the U.S. is dictated by what info he is fortunate enough to be given.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to E.C. Gach says:

        I suspect his focus on the U.S. is dictated by what info he is fortunate enough to be given.

        Yeah, that’s a very good point too.

        I think it’s a lot more likely that he be given grey propaganda than actual leaks when it comes to Russia/China.

        Hell, henceforth I’d suspect most of the stuff he gets to be grey propaganda (with maybe some black sprinkled in).Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to Jaybird says:

      You realize that your criticism applies to every media outlet in the world, right? Let me know if you need me to explain further and I will, but this is something that I really shouldn’t have to.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        Really? It applies to Pravda?

        Please, explain to me like I am a slow child:

        How does my criticism of Wikileaks equally apply to China Youth Daily?Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m referring to your argument as a whole that Wikileaks will tend to damage the U.S. more than it does Russia and China due to the relative transparency of the U.S. That applies to any medium which covers world news. Obviously I don’t disagree regarding the English-speaking bias, and if that’s really your main objection to Wikileaks, then I don’t think we disagree too strongly on the fundamentals.Report

    • Barry in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Put another way, this seems like it’s a website that will do damage to America under the guise of transparency… without having the scope to provide similar transparency to countries like China, Russia… any number of countries that, let’s face it, aren’t anywhere *NEAR* as transparent BY DEFAULT as the US.”

      I’m a bit tired of this argument, because:

      1) Julian Assange won an award for breaking the news of murders in Kenya. That would be Kenya, a place with isn’t the US. (from Wikipedia: Assange founded the WikiLeaks website in 2006 and serves on its advisory board. He has been involved in publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, for which he won the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award. He has also published material about toxic waste dumping in Africa, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer.).

      2) Wikileaks will be of more help to people in nastier countries, because they rely on that anonymity. After all, they can be subject to politically-motivate prosecutions, assassination, arbitrary arrest and torture, whilst the media whores uniformly justify that repression – oh, wait.

      3) It’s been clear to any honest, informed person for a while now that the US government is out of control. Even if one is not an anarchist, a good dose of anarchy is needed.

      4) It’s been clear to any honest, informed person for a while now that the elite USA MSM is erring waaaaaaaaaaaay on the side of being lickspittles to power. We need a good does of ornery anarchism to fight that.Report

  10. Rufus F. says:

    I was in France for the last two weeks, so all I saw in the press was that Julian Assange was arrested for sexual assault and the French media was abuzz because the cables offer up the revelation that the US thinks Sarkozy is a bit of a boob, which isn’t exactly earthshaking. I did read the stuff printed in Le Monde, which also wasn’t terribly surprising, although it was good to hear that the leaders of the Arab countries hate the Iranian government too. I’ve also read the justification by Assange, which made me think he’s more a resentful creep than a folk hero, but I guess it’s a matter of interpretation.Report

  11. Obdicut says:

    What do you feel about Wikileaks also publishing the CRU emails that were a smear against scientists, a propaganda tool from many of those same institutions that you are painting Wikileaks as campaigning against?

    I have seen Assange’s defense of it; I was not in the least impressed.

    The ironic portion of this was that I was arguing, at LGF, about Wikileaks with a couple of supporters of Wikileaks who had no idea that they had done that, which calls into question your assertion that there is a correlation between understanding what Wikileaks is and has done and supporting them. Maybe we’re just outliers, of course.Report

    • Boonton in reply to Obdicut says:

      I think this is all a learning experience. The CRU emails, may, at first glance, have appeared to be suspect but later on it became clear they were an example of how a large organization operates. If anything it reveals that there wasn’t a giant conspiracy.

      Which, I think, is why wikileaks is kind of useful. If every now and then we get mass data dumps we get some insight into how these large institutions operate in real time. Likewise I think its a good place for occassional ‘smoking guns’.

      It would be nice if we had documents from gov’ts like N. Korea, China and Russia published. But if it doesn’t happen (and it might not because such gov’t probably keep their secrets closer than the US and others do) it doesn’t happen.Report

      • Matty in reply to Boonton says:

        It would be nice if we had documents from gov’ts like N. Korea, China and Russia published.

        There is this, although given it was written in October and nothing has apparently come out since so it may have been bullshit.Report

      • RTod in reply to Boonton says:

        “I think this is all a learning experience. The CRU emails, may, at first glance, have appeared to be suspect but later on it became clear they were an example of how a large organization operates. If anything it reveals that there wasn’t a giant conspiracy.”

        Perhaps – I’m certainly not an expert on any of this – but I have to things that don’t quite sit right with me about this point of view.

        First, the specific content (and it’s lack of context) make me hard pressed to believe that this was just Wikileaks wanting to show us how a big organization works on the inside, like some kind of DK Book of Big Trucks! that my kids like. In this instance it seems not to be the utopian decimation of Holy Data, but propaganda meant to mislead. Or perhaps, someone reading something they didn’t understand, coming to a wrong conclusion, and wanting to make sure everyone else came to same said wrong conclusion. (This second point brings up an interesting aside – the notion that a democratic group of non-experts trumps an elitist group of experts every time may not be all that.)

        The second is the insinuation that now we’ve all learned there wasn’t a giant conspiracy. Pick a poll, any poll, and you’ll find that the scary conspiracy story has stuck, and may never go away.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to Obdicut says:

      I don’t have a strong opinion on that decision but at any rate I’m defending it from those who want to imprison and kill their spokesperson and shut it down and malign it, not from people who disagree with some of the decisions it has made. I’ve criticized Wikileaks in stronger terms than you have just now, and I haven’t read up on their release of those papers because I really don’t care about that in the context of the other, life-and-death things that are being released.Report

      • Obdicut in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        Not considering a propaganda campaign to smear scientists and delude the public about the reality of global warming ‘life and death’ is kind of funny, in a terrible, extinction of the human race sort of way.Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to Obdicut says:

          They release what they get so that individuals may conclude what they will from it. It is not their job to first estimate who might make what dubious claims about the material and then decide whether or not the laity is responsible enough to access that info without acting on it in a manner that is more harmful than beneficial; we already have governments to do that. And if you disagree that the public at large can make responsible decisions if presented with information that can be spun by a number of hucksters, then let’s sabotage the republic’s ability to project military power abroad, rather than worry about what information the public is accessing; I’ll meet you at the airbase with wire cutters at 19:00 hours. Or, you could help those of us who are trying to bring attention to such cables as that which indicates the U.S. and China combined forces to derail the actual global warming reduction talks, a behind-the-scenes conspiracy that went down before the “Climategate” thing came along to reinforce a lot of people’s opinions.Report

          • Obdicut in reply to Barrett Brown says:

            Ah, I see. So even though Wikileaks served to push distorted, false information, they bear no responsibility for that. If they receive information about a Jewish conspiracy to use the blood of Christian babies in matzoh, they’ll publish that.

            You’re using the word ‘information’ like the word ‘disinformation’ does not exist.

            There is no need to look to secret cables to prove that the US and other countries are conspiring to defeat efforts at global warming. The GOP is almost entirely composed of global warming deniers, for god’s sake. We can show the millions of dollars spent on AGW disinformation quite easily without hacking a damn thing.

            If Wikileaks truly will not judge any information it receives, then, even if it’s allowed to continue existing, it will quickly become a propaganda arm for governments and corporations– as it already has been for the CRU emails.


    • Barry in reply to Obdicut says:

      And I haven’t seen one word written in criticism of *that* leak by the right.Report

  12. BSK says:

    If people are embarrassed by what Wikileaks has released… maybe they shouldn’t have engaged in such behavior in the first place. If one is only willing to act under a cloak of secrecy, they probably shouldn’t be acting.Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to BSK says:

      Agreed. It’s like getting mad at your best friend for telling your spouse you were having an affair. Get mad at them all you want, but that doesn’t resolve the larger issue.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to E.C. Gach says:

        I don’t know- it seems a bit more like your friend created a website to inform the world that you’re having an affair and you’re upset with him for violating your privacy in spite of having had the affair. Or, okay, even more like you didn’t have an affair, but you told your friend in a private converation that sometimes you’ve felt unattracted to your spouse and so your friend made a website to inform the world of that fact. With the justification being that you shouldn’t have said something in a private conversation that you couldn’t say to everyone in your community. We can call it ‘secrecy’, but every single in-group of people will have things they don’t share with outsiders because those outsiders have a different perspective, and so every single human organization will maintain secrecy. That, in itself, isn’t nefarious and certainly an open society needs to value privacy as much as- actually more than- it does ‘transparency’.

        So, I don’t know, a lot of the defenses of wikileaks work for me in specific incidents, but not in the general principles.Report

        • E.C. Gach in reply to Rufus F. says:

          That’s true. I guess my example serves as a bad one.

          The only difference that is crucial is people do need privacy, the government is not a person though, and so *shouldn’t* need it. If it does need it there are problems. Some of those problems we deal with. No I don’t want other countries knowing the location of nuke sites. But then you trickle all the way down to the smaller things.

          So and so is a filanderer, and this that and the other are afraid of a nuclear Iran.

          Again I can’t stress enough that the fact that making things like that public is harmful to our foreign policy, should inform us that we have a misguided foreign policy.

          And the government is not a person, and corporations are not persons, because only people are persons, and they are the only ones who should feel entitled to secrecy. They may grant it to these other institutions in the way of popularly supported laws criminalizing the act of making public of certain things, but only then.

          Yes the government is a collection of people, and yes corporations are collections of people, but the sum of a collection of people equals something far different then just a really big person.Report

    • Gorgias in reply to BSK says:

      Perhaps it was poor policy to give an Australian with a few contacts and an internet connection the ability to severely undermine our national interests. In addition to excoriating the leaker, we ought to look into whether the omnipresent threat of a leak in the internet age necessitates a re-examination of our tactics. The greater era of transparency that is being foisted upon us for good or for ill might indicate that we ought to be doing fewer things that require secrecy and that will, when revealed, severely compromise our interests.

      The decision makers that required secrecy are as much to blame for this fiasco as Assange is.Report

    • Scott in reply to BSK says:

      That is just BS. If you read the cables it shows the professionalism of the US diplomatic corps. They are doing their job by seeking out and reporting info that effects US interests. In my opinion, Wikileaks is nothing more than a groups of leftists that hate the US and want nothing more than to embarrass the US and harm our interests while hiding under the cloak of journalists.Report

      • Barry in reply to Scott says:

        Where ‘US interests’ include abducting and torturing whomever the US government wants toReport

        • Scott in reply to Barry says:

          First, I don’t know who you are saying the US tortured or which cable you are referring to. That being said, I’m fairly sure that there are some folks whose kidnapping and torture would benefit US national security interests.

          Wikileaks didn’t release just those cables that show the US gov’t doing something bad/illegal, no they released absolute everything including those cables which show the diplomatic corps doing their job by seeking out and reporting info that effects US interests. Such release hurt the US’ national security interests because people may very well be less likely to provide info to US diplomats or invite them functions where they could pick up information.Report

          • Barry in reply to Scott says:

            Where the US government pushed to keep the German and Spanish (?) government from prosecuring CIA agents , which was discussed on the previous such thread.

            As for (g*d-d*mned stupid blogging crapware which doesn’t allow copy-and-paste)
            “some folks who kidnapping and torture would serve US interests’, yes, I can think of a few – Operation Rescue, all Dominionists, Fred Pehlps and family, the Oath Keepers, the entire GOP Senate,….

            The point of having the USA is having a country where the government has very, very, *very* limited discretion to secretly kidnap and torture people.Report

            • Scott in reply to Barry says:


              That still doesn’t answer the question about why Wikileaks is dumping all the cables and not the just the ones that show that something improper was done. The ones were nothing is wrong can have serious negative repercussion for this country that clearly Wikileaks doesn’t care about as it would appear from their actions that their goal is really to harm the US.Report

              • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

                They are doing so in order to provide a more complete picture of the geopolitical system. Also, you seem to be saying that because Wikileaks is not just dumping cables that show impropriety on the part of the U.S., but also cables that show the U.S. engaging in reasonable diplomacy, that this is somehow an indication that Wikileaks is merely intent on harming the U.S. I don’t follow that reasoning. If they were sorting through the cables and only releasing those that show the U.S. in a negative light, you would probably be pointing to that as evidence that their intent is to harm the U.S. In fact, I know you would.Report

              • Scott in reply to Barrett Brown says:


                Is what Wikileaks says or is that your answer as their apologist? As for knowing what I would say, my only response is yea sure you do just like my wife claims she does as well.Report

              • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

                That is my answer. That you don’t know what Wikileaks has said on the subject is further evidence that you are not qualified to discuss the organization’s motivations.Report

  13. Matty says:

    A glimpse into Assange’s thinking can be found here. His goal is to collapse the American government’s ability to function.

    A simple google search and two click, turned up this list of information published by wikileaks. Apparently the first document published related to Somalia* and other nations include Kenya, Peru, Iran, Australia, Denmark, Thailand, Britain and Germany. That’s not even counting the non-state organisations, which seems to be located all over the world.

    To think that this shows an exclusive focus on the US amounts to a kind of national narcissism.

    *Strictly speaking not about government but given the complex situation in Somalia I’d say the head of an organisation that controlled a large area is close enough.Report

  14. Barry says:

    Matty, at this point I’m convinced that more of the opponents of Wikileaks (here and on other sites) are either stunningly ignorant, or are the sort of people who *like* the nasty stuff the US government secretly does, and want more of it.Report