If Assange Were In China, US Politicians Would Be Cheering Him On

from the transparency-means-different-things-when-it's-about-you dept

We've pointed out the general hypocrisy of US politicians calling for an end to internet censorship, while threatening Wikileaks at the same time. If you want to see some real irony, check out the fact that Senator Joe Lieberman, who has been the loudest voice in pushing for censorship of Wikileaks and of others in the press, just so happens to be a member of the "Global Internet Freedom Caucus." Yeah, except here in the US.

Along those lines, Martin Varsavsky points out the obvious: if Julian Assange were a Chinese citizen, publishing Chinese government documents, the US would likely be cheering him on:
Lately I have a strong feeling that the Chinese must be rejoicing at all the "retroactive law invention" that is going on in the West to put one man in jail. Because if Assange had been a Chinese citizen promoting transparency in China we would be lining up to give him the Nobel Prize. We can't demand transparency from others and censorship for ourselves.
In fact, as Evgeny Morozov notes, Russia's Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin is already using the US's reaction to Wikileaks to say what a joke "freedom of the press" is in America. That tweet is in Russian, but the Google translation is:
In my opinion, the fate of Assange says the lack of media freedom in the West, the presence of political persecution and human rights violations.
What's really stunning, beyond just the sheer uselessness and impotence of the US government's response to Wikileaks, is the fact that it's inevitably destroying any moral high ground on claims of freedom and support of free speech we might have once had. In the end, I would expect that to have a much bigger impact than anything that's in the actual leaked cables.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jeremy, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Do as I say, not as I do

    Freedom of the press or freedom on the Internet in the United States now only exists on paper only. Its sad that we encourage democracy and freedom of speech in other countries while politicians in the United States embrace stringent regulations that bring up images of the Russian KGB.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Hulser (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Pragmatism

    This might be a bit of a stretch, but I see a parallel between the US government's reaction to Wikileaks and big media's reaction to illegal file sharing. In both cases, they're choosing to spend their energies fighting something that can't be stopped instead of being pragmatic and finding ways to deal with the issue.

    Unless the world changes to some type of 1984-like dystopia, both are going to just have to face reality and deal with it. Big media should accept the fact that they're not going to make as much money as they used to selling their wares and figure out ways to make what money they can. And governments should accept that they aren't going to be able to keep secrets the way they used to and figure out how to function in an open rather than a closed environment.

    The lesson is deal with the world that is, not the world as you want it to be or as it used to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    The Censorship Caucus

    To our enemies, they are a comfort, to us and our friends, a terror.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    They did it for the LULZ!

    Yesterday, the U.S. declared World Press Freedom Day.

    You know what? This morning, I finally figured it out. Color me slow... but I know the truth now: The State Department did it for the LULZ!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Whatis42? (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    In Soviet Russia Freedom Presses You!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    If Assange was in China, he'd be dead by now.

     

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  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Re: They did it for the LULZ!

    Lulz is a synonym for Schadenfreude and means "lol derived from other's suffering"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re:

    If he was in the USA, he probably would be as well....

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:08pm

    Yeah, right ...

    Like the NYT editors or Ellsberg... all dead, correct?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    Our govt. is treating Assange as they have those others. Why are you pretending otherwise?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    Yeah, right ...


    Relax. We're getting there. cf. "extraordinary rendition"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    moral high ground?

    We had that? You sure?


    I think any existence of morality left this country when the abu ghraib pictures came out, and oh yeah then there is rendition, and water boarding, etc. What a joke.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Execution

    If Assange was in China, he'd be dead by now.

    Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo isn't dead yet. And that guy is in China.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Point in case. They are not dead. They are exercising their 1st Amendment rights. In China they'd be dead.

    If you can't see the difference, move there to find out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Ugh, *isn't

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Amazon Selling WikiLeaks Documents?

    As if this could get any more surreal.

    Amazon Selling WikiLeaks Documents?
    Published December 09, 2010 | Associated Press

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/09/amazon-selling-wikileaks-documents/

    NEW YORK – Portions of the diplomatic cables contained in
    WikiLeaks are available for sale on Amazon's U.K. website,
    an odd twist after the company ousted the organization
    from its hosting service.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

    Morality in war.. thats funny. I want to kill my enemy in the most humane way possible.

    I want my government to be open, but I also want to keep my gas prices low...

    I want to be a soldier.. But I want to kill morally.

    Where's crazy bush jr when you need him.. that guy would have been on a midnite flight to a third world country ten minutes after he released them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    rstr5105 (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Pragmatism

    "The lesson is deal with the world that is, not the world as you want it to be or as it used to be."

    The problem with that is that it requires open minded thinking from a group of people who are practically paid by a group of few individuals who want to make as much $$$ as they can in a short amount of time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    A Dan (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/12/08/2023257/Pentagon-Papers-Ellsberg-Supports-Wikileaks

    Daniel Ellsberg says: 'Every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    If techdirt were in china Mike Masnick would be in a Laogai Prison.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    A Dan (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    That's one way to read his position

    "In the end, I would expect that to have a much bigger impact than anything that's in the actual leaked cables."
    This sentiment is actually a very viable reading of Assange's white paper. By making the U.S.' policy making impotent, it can no longer perpetrate the conspiracies that Wikileaks is claiming and exposing them for having committed. When they release info on the U.S. bank, it should put a collar on the bank's relative power as well. I expect this will be the case for any organization (governmental or commercial) whose leaked information they release.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    There is no war in Ba Sing Se. There is no war in Ba Sing Se. There is no war in Ba Sing Se.

    IS your urge to kill rising? Thought not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Amazon Selling WikiLeaks Documents?

    "This isn't the first time Amazon has come under fire for selling a controversial book. Last month, Amazon was found to be selling a self-published guide that offered advice to pedophiles,"

    Was the Name of the Book "TSA Guidelines for Searching Travellers"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Hulser (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Pragmatism

    The problem with that is that it requires open minded thinking from a group of people who are practically paid by a group of few individuals who want to make as much $$$ as they can in a short amount of time.

    Not to downplay the effect of corporate money on politics, but I think this particular issue has more to do with the internal workings of the government. It's the career bureaucrats, who are beholden to almost no one, that have the most to lose from an open government, not the elected officials, who are at least somewhat beholden to the public (and their corporate benefactors).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Amazon Selling WikiLeaks Documents?

    BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Book Hell!

    We are talking about the US State Department Cables.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    If techdirt were in china Mike Masnick would be in a Laogai Prison.

    So Senator Joe Liebermann is a Chinaman? AHA! I knew it all along.... Just look at his beady, shifty eyes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Amazon Selling WikiLeaks Documents?

    "We are talking about the US State Department Cables."

    To explain because you didnt get it .... "TSA Guidelines for Searching Travellers"? was a joke about the title of the "self-published guide that offered advice to pedophiles"

    I hope that helps ... Dense Much?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Re: The Censorship Caucus

    When has education ever been a source of terror? Is it not the only means by which enemies might better understand one another as a step towards the goal of mutual understanding and eventual peace?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    HA! This made me smile. I suppose the prison he's talking about is under Lake Laogai.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "So Senator Joe Liebermann is a Chinaman? AHA!"

    What the fuck are you talking about? The chinaman is not the issue here, Dude. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you DO NOT... Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please....

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Really, I know there is a lot of emotion on Wikileaks and the whole situation, but lets keep some perspective. If Assange had done to China what he has done to the US, were he in China, he would be sitting in a cell next to their future (tomorrow) Nobel Prize winner. Either that or they would have already parked a tank on his chest.

    Not saying that the US is perfect or even great, but lets get some perspective here. Sure, Joe L. is calling for heads, lots of people spouting out a lot of crap, but what has really happened? Have any laws been changed yet?

    Politicians make a lot of noise, readers at Techdirt know that, why are you surprised?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    It's Not

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    It's Not Censorship!

    It's just moderation! The material needs to be "held" and "reviewed" before it can be released. It could be spam! Yeah, that's the ticket! Just ask Mike how that works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: It's Not Censorship!

    You are just sad that you are now the "tin foil guy" not the others that are now viewed as wise people who new something all along.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Do as I say, not as I do

    to be fair, the USA has a long history of actively Discouraging democracy in other countries.

    see: South America and the Caribbean.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Someone in China is an Asian-American?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    *People in...are...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: The Censorship Caucus

    The 'censorship caucus' is 'education'?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Russian, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Finally all the dirty laundries are out, so is hypocrisy! Way to go down, USA. First your economy, now your democracy and freedom. The last to go will be your military might. As to morality, you have got none!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    RKS, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    At what point supporters lost sight of the fact that the info published is indeed stolen information.

    Not a problem so long as the info isn't yours. How happy would one be to find their credit history, health records, school records published because someone thought it would be a good idea.


    Idiots

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Re: It's Not Censorship!

    Huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Re:

    Finally all the dirty laundries are out, so is hypocrisy! Way to go down, USA. First your economy, now your democracy and freedom. The last to go will be your military might. As to morality, you have got none!

    As an American, I'm sad to say you're right. In general, Americans are hypocritical liars who sold out their principles long ago. That's why so many of them are mad at Wikileaks: They love lies and don't want the truth. Of course, if you ask them they'll just lie and deny it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 8:46pm

    Re:

    At what point supporters lost sight of the fact that the info published is indeed stolen information.

    No, it isn't stolen, it's a copy. The original was left in place.

    Not a problem so long as the info isn't yours. How happy would one be to find their credit history, health records, school records published because someone thought it would be a good idea.

    So now you're accusing Wikileaks of that too? You're nothing but a typical lying apologist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 10:12pm

    Re:

    When I govern a country, feel free to release my credit history, health records, and school records.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:50am

    Same old, same old. When the Taliban were fighting against the Russians, they were "freedom fighters". Now the US is the target, they're "terrorists".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Michael, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 4:51am

    Re:

    "but what has really happened"

    1) Political pressure was applied to their service providers and they were (temporarily) censored from the internet
    2) Political pressure was applied to their payment processors and they had their credit card processing taken away
    3) Political pressure was applied to their banking institution and they had their money taken away

    So what has happened? The US government has used it's leverage with large corporations to attempt to quiet the leaks. Now that this method has failed, they are moving forward with an attempt to make what has been done illegal in some way to shut it down.

    That is a HUGE step in the direction of a police state. The US has been positioning itself for this for a long time - and history has shown us that democratic states slowly but surely crumble into empires. The thing to note in this case is how quickly it is happening.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 11th, 2010 @ 7:44pm

    "A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organisation of comprehensive political exposure." -Lenin 1901

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    Headbhang (profile), Dec 12th, 2010 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    All your continent are belong to US!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 12th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    "hey atleast we're better than China"

    Holy shit aiming for the stars I see..
    I grieve for the honest people of your country, but would you please stop imposing and spreading your shit all over the rest of us?
    I apologize for the cynical undertones and wish the people the best in turning the tide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah - but if he is in China, he is not an Asian-American

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Darryl, Dec 12th, 2010 @ 5:06pm

    IF he was in China, he would be DEAD

    There is no hyprocracy here, except at techdirt..

    MIKE mike mike...

    If Assange Were In China, US Politicians Would Be Cheering Him On

    That headline, mike would have to the most stupid, bitter, wrong, and nieve statement ive seen you make for a long time.

    DO YOU honestly believe that Mike,, HONESTLY ?????

    Why do you allways "MAKE UP" what you think politicians and authorities are saying..

    As if you somehow know better than THEY DO, what their motives are.

    But from your commentry, it is very clear that you knowledge of actual events, and facts is very weak..

    Yes, based on the very weak factural knowledge, you make the most stupid, and purile climes I have seen from anyone.

    And you consider youself somehow a responsible person, making responsible comment ???

    this shows me, clearly you are a one show pony, incapable of non bias, and not willing to learn facts when those facts may contradict your believe system..

    You cant stand to hear the earth is round, when you want to convince everyone its flat..

    You also appear to have some idea, that America hates China

    Is that what you think mike ???

    Lets see here, America borrows, millions,,, NO TRILLIONS of dollars of china each year...

    But you think they hate each other, or that America would be happy to give it to china.

    Mike you are so out of touch with reality, its a wonder you can even find your way out of your house in the morning, let alone find your way to work.. !!!!!!!

    Just amazing... some of your statements are classic, and will once day come back to haunt you..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    FearlessWhenAnonymous, Apr 3rd, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: IF he was in China, he would be DEAD

    Darryl, Dec 12th, 2010 @ 5:06pm.. "There is no hyprocracy here, except at techdirt.. "
    Right. The country being damaged and its citizens are not hypocritical when applying a different standard to the problem source. I might be a world citizen and so, appreciate the value of other humans in China or wherever, but don't expect me to watch out for China at the expense of Canada/the US. It is an awful world in that way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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