New Congressional Leadership Prioritizes Wikileaks Investigation

from the how-about-not-covering-up-stuff? dept

We had high hopes after a recent Congressional hearing about Wikileaks, which appeared to focus more on the problem of overly secretive government rather than just blaming Wikileaks, that perhaps the US wouldn't go too far in its overreaction to the site. However, with a new leadership taking over Congress this week, apparently they've decided to prioritize investigating Wikileaks and are making the whole thing political, suggesting that the Justice Department has been "too slow and too weak" in dealing with the site. Rep. Darrell Issa, who is heading the "oversight committee," claims that the US government must do something about Wikileaks or "the world is laughing at this paper tiger we've become."

That makes no sense. So far, nearly all of the international response we've seen about Wikileaks has been focused on just how incredibly hypocritical the US has been in its response -- promoting freedom of the press and a free internet elsewhere, but then freaking out about Wikileaks at home. Pushing a politically motivated attack on Wikileaks will just make this issue worse in the eyes of the international community and seems unlikely to benefit the US in any way. If the world is laughing at the US over anything, it's about its childish and counterproductive response to Wikileaks, demonstrated specifically by Darrell Issa's statements and prioritization of Wikileaks as an issue.

If anything should be prioritized, it should be a review of why the government is being so overly secretive on matters where it should not be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Mike, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    Effective politics requires privacy.

    Every government on the size of America needs secrets. Every one needs to keep what it negotiates in private private until a public agreement can be reached.

    You can't get deals done efficiently when you have 6 billion backseat drivers around the world following and heckling your every move.

    You can't play poker when your hand is showing, and the others' aren't.

    Privacy is essential. It is just as important for a government as it is for an individual. If you think the American people or politicians are going to support what WikiLeaks has done, you are out of touch.

     

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      Designerfx (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      really?

      how well has that worked for us with wikileaks?

      all it has shown is that the government deserves less privacy, not more. Everything it's released has shown how badly the US government has been acting in private.

      so no, not so much.

       

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      bishboria (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      Tax comes from my salary to pay the salary the of politicians, I demand to know how *MY* money is being spent.

       

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      Kevin (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      He is calling our government out for being a bunch of hypocrites. A Chinese blogger releases internal papers of the Chinese government and he is a hero of free speech. Someone does the same thing to our government and they are slammed by the leadership as terrorist and the need to be locked up. I for one never mind anyone being called to the mat for being a hypocrite.

       

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        Mike, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:35pm

        Re: Re:

        Someone who leaks about China is a 'hero' only because America is a competitor to China. There is no hypocrisy.

        Leaked Chinese secrets embarrass and weaken China in the public stage.

        Leaked American secrets embarrass and weaken America in the public stage.

        Why should anyone be surprised Americans would be in favor of the former and opposed to the latter?

        Everyone knows American "exceptionalism" is just lip service. America is no more or less free or open than any other country close to its size.

        If a Saudi leader privately tells an American diplomat he's concerned about Iran going nuclear, how can you possibly think sharing that leader's secret concerns indiscriminately with the world will help anyone?

        If you can't keep secrets, people won't tell you them anymore.

        You guys are living in a fantasy land if you think that's how government should work.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And here was I thinking that transparency only made a country stronger, silly me.

           

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          The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 4:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Someone who leaks about China is a 'hero' only because America is a competitor to China. There is no hypocrisy.

          So, you're saying that calling someone who leaks the wrongdoings on China a hero, but calling someone who leaks the wrongdoings of America a terrorist is *not* hypocrisy?

          Just so we're on the same page here.

           

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            Mike, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It is a matter of self-interest, not hypocrisy. Of course Americans would support a leak that weakens a competitor. And of course they would oppose one that weakens or embarrasses themselves.

            Americans have an interest in a strong America and weak China. Their reactions mirror that.

            I don't think any American politician has said countries should make all government records free and open, then reneged since WikiLeaks hit.

            If you make the record public, all you'll get is a lot of off the record dealing. If you want that kind of governance go to Sweden.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If you believe in secrecy and backroom deals you are not an American.

               

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              MrWilson, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Americans aren't unified in their perspective. You or other Americans may have a competitive perspective on the matter, but not all Americans do.

              Not all Americans, "have an interest in a strong America and weak China."

              Other Americans might consider a transparent democratic process to be essential to preserving the validity of a democratic republic.

              The leaks aren't just embarrassing to the US Government in regards to foreign relations. They've also illustrated (what we already knew) that the government is lying to the American people.

              The weakening of the American government may also be in the interest of Americans who are abused or neglected by the government in favor of wealthy elites.

              "If you want that kind of governance go to Sweden."

              If you want to tell people to go somewhere else instead of expecting the government to actually serve the interests of the people, you can stay right here in America because we have the freedom of speech in order to voice such (silly) opinions, unless of course it's embarrassing to the bureaucrats and politicians who only serve to perpetuate their own careers and the wealth of the stockholders...

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 10:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "If a Saudi leader privately tells an American diplomat he's concerned about Iran going nuclear..."

          This is a secret?

           

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          Kevin (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 11:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And would they be launching the same investigation of wikileaks had released thousands of Chinese or Russian or Iranian documents. Help no! Assange would be the hero and poster child of free speech/press. All the US is doing here is giving these documents an even larger spotlight.

           

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        bretthotep (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 8:30pm

        Re: Re:

        Well in China the person who released the internal papers is also considered a terrorist so I guess its all good unless it happens in your own country.

         

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      crade (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:19pm

      Re:

      Effective democracy requires the government not being able to censor what the electorate is allowed to see. If the public doesn't have the info that they need to vote (ie: if they can't ask themselves the question "do I want to vote for a government that uses my tax dollars to pimp out underage children") then you don't have democracy and you just have a sham.

      If effective politics truly requires keeping just matters from the electorate, then democracy is not an effective system of government.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      Effective politics requires privacy.


      Some privacy, yes, but when that privacy is abused, then that's an issue. What Wikileaks has shown is that the privacy has been abused. Widely.

      Every government on the size of America needs secrets. Every one needs to keep what it negotiates in private private until a public agreement can be reached.

      Again, no one said "no secrets." But the government is hiding questionable actions in the name of that privacy. That's a problem.

      You can't get deals done efficiently when you have 6 billion backseat drivers around the world following and heckling your every move.

      Actually, I disagree with that premise. If you can't do deals with public scrutiny, you shouldn't be in that job.

      If you think the American people or politicians are going to support what WikiLeaks has done, you are out of touch.

      Whether or not you support it, it's incredibly hypocritical for the government to cheer on such things elsewhere, and then pretend that a law has been broken here.

       

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        The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:46pm

        Re: Re:

        "Some privacy, yes, but when that privacy is abused, then that's an issue. What Wikileaks has shown is that the privacy has been abused. Widely."

        My problem with Wikileaks is that it seems to be a one-man show, with Mr. Assange deciding what is abuse. I don't want that decision in the hands of a single person in the government, much less in his.

        "Again, no one said "no secrets." But the government is hiding questionable actions in the name of that privacy. That's a problem."

        Who determines what's questionable? Mr. Assange apparently thinks he does.

        "Actually, I disagree with that premise. If you can't do deals with public scrutiny, you shouldn't be in that job."

        Let's think about this. Should all corporate business negotiation details be discussed in the open, say for example in the Wall Street Journal, while they are on-going? Should the next round of Israeli & Palestinian or North & South Korean peace negotiations be televised live, straight from the negotiating table? While such events might be very interesting, how much do you think would be accomplished?

        Or as John Saxe (not Bismarck) said in 1869: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 9:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So... you defend pimping out children and killing civilians, then? Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

           

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            The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 4th, 2011 @ 9:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Where in my comments did I say that I "defend pimping out children and killing civilians"? If you can show where I stated that, I shall certainly correct my post. If you cannot, I would appreciate an apology.

             

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        The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:49pm

        Re: Re:

        Despite my previous comments, I do agree with your last point 100%!

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:47pm

      Re:

      Maybe we should stop "playing" politics like poker and start doing something more reasonable.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      As an American I fully support Wikileaks.

       

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        The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 4:02pm

        Re: Re:

        As an American, a war veteran, and a patriot, I fully support Wikileaks.

         

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          Mike, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 4:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you are an American and support WikiLeaks, surveys say you are in the shrinking minority.

           

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            The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            From purely unscientific means; talking to people, random reading online, comments on this site; I have come to the same conclusion. We live in sad times.

             

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            AJ00200 (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re

            However, we must consider the reason for which Wikileaks are becoming a minority. Please consider the following:
            * Much of the media has stopped covering the Wikileaks story. There could have been a government order for this set to some media organizations or they could be withdrawing their support in the same way that Amazon, PayPal, and so on have dropped Wikileaks (maybe due to political pressure). If you don't hear about it, it is likely to at least seem to be a minority.
            * The government of Sweden (rumored to be at the direction of the United States) has launched a smear campaign against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This could very well be political propaganda set forth by Sweden (possibly at the direction of the United States).
            * Other internal United States propaganda includes phrases such as "Wikileaks endangers lives," and "Wikileaks is a threat to national security." It must be pointed out that our nation exists upon the principle of free speech and taking that away would be the biggest threat to national security (but I suppose, as long as your propaganda tricks people into this it is ok).

            So, as you can see, Wikileaks supporters are not becoming a minority, it is just that you are hearing about them less due to lack of media coverage. If you look, the information still exists on the blogs of supporters, in the form of video of the protests, and still the documents live on. In fact, I would venture to say that the more the government attempts to quash Wikileaks, the more people will support it. We as a nation have put up with the government for far to long. It ends now. Adapt or die!

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yah right LoL

             

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            techflaws.org (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 10:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Which won't make any difference concerning the likelyhood of future embarassment of the american gonvernment.

             

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      AJ00200 (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:07pm

      Re: Effective politics requires pricacy

      That is not at all what Wikileaks is suggesting. They are instead suggesting that the government has too many secrets. Some of these secrets even correspond to the governments knowing violation of laws which were created to protect the citizens.
      The United States is turning into a totalitarian state which is not acceptable. The United States has gone to war against nations purely because they were oppressive (including the Revolutionary War, The Cold War, and so on).
      Lastly, do not forget that we preach free-speech and transparency to the rest of the world, but it all falls apart when we are doing just the opposite; we are our own worst enemy.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:44pm

      Re:

      People need privacy, governments and companies need transparency to function the way they should.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    assuming they have access to the full set of cables (someone with authority must have said "ok what do they have") perhaps they are really worried about a specific cable or series of cables that hasn't been made public yet...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    All you are seeing is a Republican leadership trying to grab a hot button issue and press the Democratic President and leadership on it. They also have to accept that a large part of what is out there happened under a Republican president, and they have plenty of reason to be trying hard to get prosecution and get those documents re-secured.

    At the end of the day, comment #1 (Mike) is correct. Politics does require some privacy and confidentiality. Without it, there is no possiblity of getting anything done.

    If we held ourselves to the same standards, TD would be forced to disclose who they met with and mentioned in the year end post. We all need some privacy, I guess.

     

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      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:17pm

      Re:

      So you're a big financial contributor to TechDirt, then? If not, you're making a false analogy, probably intentionally.

       

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      teka, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:27pm

      Re:

      At the end of the day, comment #1 (Mike) is correct. Politics does require some privacy and confidentiality. Without it, there is no possiblity of getting anything done.


      And what has is been shown is that what is "getting done" is too-often in violation of the law. Politicians and their tools, claiming to act in My name, are shaming me and then trying to hide that fact.

      Politicians would claim that "politics needs privacy"
      I would counter that "Liberty needs Accountability and Transparency"


      If we held ourselves to the same standards, TD would be forced to disclose who they met with and mentioned in the year end post. We all need some privacy, I guess.


      Is this the conspiracy theory of the week? Try again.
      a Private Citizen, making a comment about a coincidental conversation with other Private Citizens is under no obligation to tell anyone anything, ever.

      This is not the same thing as actions being taken by Government. Where is the Blink tag when i need it to hammer this point home?

      And Mike responds to all the feral-darryl ranting about this conspiracy, so take a look.

       

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      Kevin (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:28pm

      Re:

      Since this is Mike telling us his thoughts on what he decides to right about I have no idea why I need to know who he met at Starbucks yesterday while finishing a something he is going to post tomorrow.

       

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      crade (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:45pm

      Re:

      Well governments aren't people and they don't have 'privacy', (they have secrets, for proper and / or for improper reasons) but even if they were people,
      who gets the right to keep private from the shareholders what they spend company money on?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:50pm

      Re:

      Anything wrong done you said?

      I agree without secret dealings it is hard to dupe the public.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 8:23pm

        Re: Re:

        Without privacy and at least some secrecy, it is likely the public will never be duped because little will happen.

        Politics is a rough game, It's like poker with guns, everyone is more than willing to pull the trigger to protect their stack. One only has to look at an idiot like Saddam who kept on saying that he has weapons, he has huge military, and that everyone would die, and the US pretty much ran him into a spider hole within a few hours. There were no weapons, but he was such a good fibber that he convinced enough people.

        The under current is that all sorts of deals are made that are politically expedient but not always popular. Right now, Pakistan is "officially protesting" US drone hits inside their country, but at the same time, they are quietly allowing it to happen. The protesting is for political capital at home, the deals are a more realistic view of the situation. The US in turn doesn't admit to anything, doesn't gloat, and doesn't report any activity.

        This is a case that without at least a little secrecy and privacy, this stuff wouldn't happen and a whole whack of talibans would be laughing their butts off at the American troops stuck at the border unable to come get them.

        It is great to have huge morals and all that, but in the end, sometimes stuff has to get done. Politics is like making sausages, you really don't want to see how it gets done. It is ugly, messy, and there is a whole lot of crap flying around.

         

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    The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    A couple of points...

    First, I try to read several German and UK news websites daily and from they've been carrying about the Wikigate stuff, I haven't seen that "nearly all of the international response we've seen about Wikileaks has been focused on just how incredibly hypocritical the US has been in its response" but they have written quite a bit about how futile it will be for the US to do anything to Lord Julius.

    Secondly, concerning levels of secrecy, the US has a representative form of government. We elect people with whom we agree after they tell us what they plan to do. Up to now, how much stuff gets classified and what classification levels are used hasn't been a bit topic of discussion among the American electorate.

    If bureaucrats are left to their own devices, the inertia that they create is incredible. If the American voters think that over-classification of government-produced information by these unelected political appointees is bad, they should elect people to fix the problem. Who among us is intelligent enough that they should be appointed Secret Documents Czar in order to solve this problem by royal fiat?

     

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      crade (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:49pm

      Re: A couple of points...

      How can people possibly vote against over-classification of documents if the knowledge about what is classified is happening forbidden to them?

       

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        crade (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 3:50pm

        Re: Re: A couple of points...

        err minus 'happening'.

         

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        aj00200 (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 5:28pm

        Re: Re: A couple of points...

        It is hard to say exactly how to do this. The government should give some insight as to what will be hidden. They do not have to give specific details, just a general idea about what they are hiding.

        This is exactly why we need Wikileaks. Wikileaks is showing us exactly what was hidden without our consent.

        The government has no fundamental right to privacy. They are offered privacy by the people in order to protect that which the people deem as important. The government has, instead, been hiding things it wouldn't like its own citizens to know.
        The government is basically trying to tell us what is best for us. It is the people who should decide what is best for ourselves via our vote, but there is practically no government transparency so therefore, we are voting blindly.

         

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        The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:33pm

        Re: Re: A couple of points...

        We don't actually vote against over-classification or other abuses of various government systems. We vote for people to represent us in the government. For our government to work the way it was designed, we need to elect ethical representatives who have the best interest of their constituents at heart.

        If we elect them because we like what they say they will do while in the government, and they are honorable and ethical enough to keep their promises and do a good job, they would, in the course of legislative hearings, uncover stuff that needs to be uncovered. At the very least, they could refuse to fund programs suspected of being abusive.

        A democratic/republic/federal form of government relies on having good and honorable people represent the folks. If we don't have those types of people in the government, not much else matters anymore...

         

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          crade (profile), Jan 4th, 2011 @ 7:58am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of points...

          It's 6 of one or a half dozen of the other. If you aren't allowed to be informed about the representatives activities particularly about their abuses of power while they are in power then you can't elect ethical representatives.

          It doesn't matter what they say, all they need to do is pretend they are doing what they say and cover up anything that tells a different story.

          A democratic system relies on being *able* to elect good honorable folks, which requires information.

           

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    dcl, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    Checks and balances

    Don't forget one of the basic structural premises of the US Gov is supposed to be checks and balances. Congress is supposed to be the People's Check and balance, if things are kept secret it screws up the works.

     

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    abc gum, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 4:24pm

    I know .. the solution is to shoot the messenger. This has always worked in the past - right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    A little background on what Darrell Issa may have.

    Rep. Darrell Issa is a very interesting man. Prior to entering politics, he was founder and CEO of a company called Directed Electronics, Inc. This is the company who during the 1980s and 1990s developed the "Viper" Car Security alarm. The very one well known for saying "PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE".

    Indeed, he made quite a bunch of money in this venture, nearly $250,000,000.00 selling the idea of security to the American Public until people eventually started yelling at neighbors to shut off their car damned alarm.

    In fact, he's supposedly the richest man in Congress due to his sale of the company prior to politics. Nonetheless, it's the fear profiteering.

    So I imagine if you're a San Diego-based Defense Contractor with a bunch of security systems (Like TSA recently implemented) Darrell Issa is *your* man!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 10:38pm

      Re: A little background on what Darrell Issa may have.

      He was also a car thief in his previous life, yes?

      A neighbor had one of those Viper alarms that went off constantly (help, help! i'm bein' possessed!). I'd've gladly shot it.

      Whatever Issa is up to, I've got a good feeling it's going to waste a shitload of my tax dollars and little else.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Some interesting info on Darrell Issa's previous job

    Rep. Darrell Issa is a very interesting man. Prior to entering politics, he was founder and CEO of a company called Directed Electronics, Inc. This is the company who during the 1980s and 1990s developed the "Viper" Car Security alarm. The very one well known for saying "PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE".

    Indeed, he made quite a bunch of money in this venture, nearly $250,000,000.00 selling the idea of security to the American Public until people eventually started yelling at neighbors to shut off their damned car alarm.

    It's reported that he's supposedly the richest man in Congress due to his sale of the company prior to politics. Nonetheless, it's the profiteering on fear.

    So I imagine if you're a San Diego-based Defense Contractor with a bunch of security systems (Like TSA recently implemented) Darrell Issa is *your* man!

     

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    Nicolasp (profile), Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 6:35pm

    Past a certain point, secrecy becomes spectacle. Just like it did in Stalinist administrations.

     

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    Miso Susanowa, Jan 3rd, 2011 @ 10:19pm

    Psyops

    What is successfully being obscured and buried is that the whole Cablegate tempest in a teapot is to distract from the real leak that got up the Pentagon's nose:

    THE AFGHAN WAR DIARY

    The real issues raised in that information, including illegal acts of war, lying about death tolls both civilian and military, manipulation of the media, denial of acts of murder and soliciting murder have been obscurred in this back-and-forth flapping about privacy, the need to have secrets and the rest of it.

    This is ALL SMOKE AND MIRRORS. Get beyond the 2D Western Ghost Town Shoot'em-up tv show to the root of why this is happening: Wikileaks gave meaningful data to the world providing evidence of manipulation of the "war" in Afghanistan and Iraq just as illegal and repulsive as what the Pentagon Papers revealed.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Jan 4th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    The New Congressional Congress...

    Someone once said that "(Con)gress is the opposite of (Pro)gress." And so far, without a doubt, the 2011 Congress is living up to that statement. With heads buried deeply in the sand as usual. We'll probably lose more of our Constitution, our Bill Of Rights. So when it comes to my freedom, my liberty.. My money is on WikiLeaks.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 6:58am

    Sad time for the United States where greed is absolutely in charge. I am walking down the street looking at the out of work and the homeless wandering around with nothing to do while the TEA Party wanting to cut taxes and services is the dominant force in the land.

    Hell no we won't pay to help anyone. I am a Republican. Don't tax me.
    Hope you bought your gun because it's coming.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      hegemon13, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      Not sure what your post has to do with the article, but I have to ask, do you honestly believe that with higher taxes, the government would do a damned thing to help the homeless that have nothing? So far, I have seen no evidence and no spoken intention for any tax money to help the homeless (or the unemployed, really. Handing out money for a few months doesn't help. Helping them find a sustainable job does). So far, the most effective organizations helping the homeless are local governments and private charities. So, equating the desire for smaller government to personal selfishness is complete disingenuous. It's not one or the other. Government does not and can not do anything efficiently.

       

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


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