If The US Wants To Have Any Credibility On Internet Freedom It Should Drop The Attempt To Prosecute Assange

from the as-if-there-is-any-credibility dept

We've discussed how US political attacks on Julian Assange and Wikileaks have really hurt the US's supposed moral high ground on internet freedom -- something our leaders have long insisted they're in favor of. Yet, with the recent events in Egypt and the attempts to shut down internet communications there, Tim Wu is noting that the federal government should drop the attempt to charge Julian Assange with anything, or else risk looking like total hypocrites:
It is time for the United States to drop the case against WikiLeaks. Pressing forward with efforts to prosecute an Internet publisher at home while standing up for an open Internet in Egypt and the world at large is an increasingly tenuous position. The WikiLeaks case endangers the reputation of the United States as a defender of free speech and an open Internet globally, while forcing the Obama administration to take uncomfortable constitutional positions better suited to the Nixon administration. The importance of this issue is hard to overstate: At a time when the Internet is increasingly recognized as a medium of global resistance to authoritarian rule and when protestors in Tahrir square are holding up signs that say "Thank you, Facebook!", the Obama administration and the United States must make sure that they stand on the right side.
Of course, it seems unlikely that this will actually happen, but I think that US officials significantly underestimate the ammo they're about to hand critics around the world, and what the resulting backlash will create. This one issue will be thrown up in our faces any time the US steps in or complains about a lack of internet freedom elsewhere. It will make pretty much all statements about the importance of internet freedom around the world a punchline rather than an issue worth taking seriously.


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    The eejit (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    It's almost like a meta-Streisand effect, only instead of covering it up, it'll simply not be bothered with by those outside of tech and 'journalism'.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    If The US Wants To Have Any Credibility

    If The US Wants To Have Any Cred... too late.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Anger, fear, now pleading. What is the next step?

    I notice that Assange is so freaked out about the US that he has started sending out "No Gitmo" press releases from his lawyers. That and begging for money on Facebook.

    Sad to see how desperate he is, but he earned it.

     

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      Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      someone slap me for feeding the troll, but...

      Earned it by doing what? The same thing he (well, Wikileaks, really) did that earned him an Amnesty International Award for the information Wikileaks published for Kenya?

      Or are you going to say that his nefarious conspiracy with Manning to undermine the USA is what netted him this little whirlwind?

      The rape thing, maybe?

      Do tell, which of his evil deeds it the reason for this current life of woe?

       

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        Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

        Re: Re:

        As soon as I posted that, I thought better of the Troll moniker... it was undeserved and I apologize.

        The rest of the sarcasm, however, stands.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re:

        No Assange earns it because rather than doing what wikileaks is suppose to be about (information transparency), he convolutes it to his own end. The most obvious of that is the idea of information blackmail, the old "we have something on you, be nice to us" business that is horrible.

        Second, there is of course the connections between Assange and various political organizations. The information released is done so not to provide transparency, but instead orchestrated to best support the political agenda.

        Finally, there is the lack of transparency regarding Assange himself. From the legal case before him to the magic trick of being a "resident of nowhere" to avoid taxation, to the secretive and well hidden methods used to fund Wikileaks and Assange's higher end lifestyle.

        As you sow, you shall reap. He has sown mightily, as thus he reaps the same.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The desperation of TAM continues.

           

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          Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Feel free, of course, to provide citations for these claims. I'd love to have something to argue against other than your opinion.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It has all been done before, but hey, I can run you past the bases really fast if you like.

            The first part is easy: If it was about transparency, there would be none of this "coming soon" or "we have stuff on a US bank" or "we have stuff on a Swiss bank" or any of that crap. It would just be released and the chips would land where they may. Baiting the press and making subtle threats aganist people, groups, and companies is just really not very productive, and certainly against the idea of openness.

            Wikileaks has direct links to an Icelandic government minister (she was part of the Wikileaks for a while, and has appeared with Assange). Wikileaks was offering hosting by The Pirate Party, and in fact are now in "the bunker" next to The Pirate Bay. There are indications that the people supporting Assange in the UK right now are political activists as well.

            This is the money. All the moaning and complaining about Wikileaks funding is sort of a misdirection, because Wikileaks wasn't taking any money directly. It was being filtered through non-profit organizations (themselves now under investigation), which allowed people to claim the receipts on their taxes. Most people would not be able to tell you who owns Wikileaks, nor would they be able to explain this:

            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503983_162-20028090-503983.html

            The suggestion is that Wikileaks was taking in $32,136.000 US per year. From where? Any ideas? That isn't chump change. How much is Assange making to run Wikileaks?

            The lack of transparency at Wikileaks is shocking, really.

             

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              Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I do get what you're saying... and I agree with some of it. But let me advocate the devil here.

              Without all the information, how do you know the thinking behind the release of some of the information over others. Should they have used information as a "don't push us bro" tactic? Probably not. Would they have released the information at some point once the more "important" information was done? Who knows.

              I don't know about the connection to the Icelandic government, so i can't really argue against it... some sources would be nice, but I'll let this one slide. If there is a connection between the Icelandic government and Wikileaks, and that connection is used to favor Wikileaks, then yes it's bad. But if a particular government has 'bunkered' a website that the US publicly went gunning for, why would it be a surprise that they did it again for another of our 'enemies'? But that's pure speculation on my part.

              For the 'indications that people supporting WL are political activists... ummm... in what sense? I would consider myself a political activist in that I advocate certain ideas and movements, and I support Wikileaks. And where's the citation for those 'indications'?

              And I'm not sure what you're on about for the money angle... are they losing it or making it?

              Yes, the transparency is woefully lacking for a company that purports openness... but I would argue that the context of openness is important here... a government has a duty to be open to the people who support and fund it. A private company has a duty to the people who invest in it and who are impacted by their presence. I think there should be more transparency to defuse the "But you're not open!!" attack, but I think comparing it to the need for open government is like comparing grapes to watermelons.

              And back to my original point... Assange may be underhanded or secretive, but the US is attacking Assange for Wikileak's activities. When those activities were exposing some pretty startling things that the US was doing... and the US still stands on an anti-censorship soap-box, it really doesn't look good. It makes us look like we feel that everyone should be free to express whatever they want... as long as it's not about us.

              Sorry if that's a bit rambling... it's been a long day.

               

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              Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              PS.. thanks for expounding on the points... Now that I know what you mean, you definitely don't look like a troll, you look like someone with points to make :) I appreciate it.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 10:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Thanks. The Iceland connection is:

                http://icelandpulse.com/icelandreview/893-icelandic-wikileaks-mp-will-fight-us-government.htm l

                She was / is part of the wikileaks crew.

                http://www.therightperspective.org/2010/12/14/assange-partied-at-us-embassy-in-iceland-mp/

                And I'm not sure what you're on about for the money angle... are they losing it or making it?

                Assange is claiming that as a result of the various blocks by Paypal and Mastercard, that Wikileaks is losing 600,000 Francs (about $620,000 US dollars) per week. It would suggest 32 million or more of income for Wikileaks, which appears to have little staff, no offices, and little need for anything past hosting.

                The UK "politically active" is something you have to go and research to find. You have to look for stories that listed some of the people that turned up at his UK hearings. Plenty of politically active people, some people attached to political parties, etc.

                Assange may be underhanded or secretive, but the US is attacking Assange for Wikileak's activities

                This is true, but they may be onto something. Wikileaks tries to act like they are all for "truth and transparency", but by being incredibly secretive about themselves, it makes you wonder if another agenda isn't being filled. Is this transparency, or "terrorism by information"?

                It is always important to ask the question "why benefits from the release of information"? When you answer that question, you get a better idea of why it is done.

                 

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                  techflaws.org (profile), Feb 8th, 2011 @ 3:49am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Which still is the wrong question. If the government would not do all those stupid stuff information leaked about their doings would not hurt.

                   

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                  Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 8th, 2011 @ 5:44am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I don't want to go round and round poking holes in things, but I'm still not convinced on the connection here. The articles you linked shows that Birgitta helped with the helicopter attack vid, but does not show where she was part of the organization. Everything that I've found is that she was a volunteer for the organization for the helicopter vid... including her Wikipedia page. Conclusive? no, not at all. But given what I've been able to find, I don't think there's some kind of nefarious plot afoot where she’s akin to the former Monsanto execs now heading up the environmental protection groups in the US government.

                  In fact, I did find this: http://www.mediaite.com/online/jonsdottir-assange-wikileaks/

                  Now, I'll admit it does feel a bit tabloid-ish, but from the quotes they have, it looks like Birgitta cares more about Wikileaks' mission over Assange himself. Sounds like she's calling him out for some of the same things you are.

                  "This is true, but they may be onto something"
                  It's going to take a lot, given our past actions, to convince me that the US government is after anything other than retribution against someone that gave them a black eye.


                  "It is always important to ask the question "why benefits from the release of information"? When you answer that question, you get a better idea of why it is done."
                  I know you meant 'who benefits'... but I think the 'who' in this is the American people... Wikileaks have very publicly shown proof that our government is doing some things that we don't agree with. Distasteful things they need to answer for.

                  You say that we need to look at who benefits from these actions... how does Assange or Wikileaks benefit from exposing the helicopter footage, the child-prostitution thing, et al? Wikileaks was already 'famous'... they had already been given awards for similar actions. So what's their motive in this?

                  Finally, back to my original point... I still don't see how the US government pursuing Assange over Wikileaks' actions of leaking the evidence against Assange is him suffering something 'he deserves' for the actions he took. The rest of this conversation has been very informative and interesting, but it didn't really address the main point... the US going after Assange smells of vindictiveness, not justice.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 6:35am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    For the politician, you only have to look at:

                    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/01/15/qa-former-wikileaks-spokeswoman-birgitta-jonsdottir/

                    "former spokeswoman". She wasn't just a friend, she was (and some say still is) a part of the Wikileaks ogarnization. It should come as no surprise that she lead the political movement in Iceland to create a haven for this type of organization.

                    You say that we need to look at who benefits from these actions... how does Assange or Wikileaks benefit from exposing the helicopter footage, the child-prostitution thing, et al? Wikileaks was already 'famous'... they had already been given awards for similar actions. So what's their motive in this?

                    My point exactly: it isn't Wikileaks that benefits. They ones that benefit are the Anti-America, anti-war in Iraq / was in Afghanistan political parties who are looking for leverage. It plays well for any political party who are trying to leverage younger people's distrust of their current governments, and their relationship with the US government.

                    Not remarkably, it would play very well for The Pirate Party, as an example.

                    Once you can grasp the idea that there is a political stance, a political undertow to all of this, it is much easier to understand what is really going on. Heck, Mike Masnick hit it the other day without realizing it: Wikileaks is in a very real sense part of the mythical "party of We". The idea being to try to completely discredit any power structures or people in positions of power to push forward "people power" alternatives.

                    You have to stand back and pay attention to really catch it, but it is out there.

                     

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                      Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 8th, 2011 @ 7:43am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Thank you for the link to the 'former spokeswoman' article... that's the proof I was looking for. As far as that being the motivation behind creating a haven for "this type of organization", could you not allow the possibility that they want to protect the ability for people to blow the whistle on a government without fear of international legal action? Not provable one way or the other, but it is possible.

                      And for the benefit, I still say that you and I benefit from it. I have not been convinced that the Anit-USA and Anti-War groups were the motivators behind the release of those cables... Yes, their cause is helped by this information being released, but until I see evidence one way or the other, I'm going to put it on the same pedistal as "we went to war in Iraq to install and secure a more pliable goverment to address our oil interests"... possible, but not provable.

                      But none of that removes the fact that the information that was released was fact... that our government was doing these things. If your enemies are looking for dirt on you, don't hide it deeper. If you avoid getting dirty in the first place, your enemies have nothing on you.

                      I still say that while there are some political results and probably some political motivations, the actions of Wikileaks in exposing government corruption is a very necessary thing. If Birgitta is going to use the influence to forward her political agenda, then shame on her... but I don't think we should silence these whistles just to stop that.

                      Now that the info has been released, and Wikileaks has been called into question, perhaps it's now time to have others step up into their place... and learn from WL's major failure by allowing themselves to be transparent.

                      One final note… this still hasn’t addressed how Assange is behind all this and the US government pursuing him is his comeuppance. Unless you want to say that the whole shebang was Assange piloting an anti-government ship on his own.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 8:45am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Unless you want to say that the whole shebang was Assange piloting an anti-government ship on his own

                        Based on people leaving the Wikileaks organization and distancing themselves from it (including the aforementioned Icelandic politician), it seems that what Wikileaks was suppose to be and what it has become are two different things. It is sort of why I refer to it sometimes as the "Cult of Assange", because it is now something very different from the animal it started out as (and pretends to be).

                        The lack of transparency for this sort of organization will always be it's downfall, because in the end, it is doing exactly the same things it calls others out for.

                         

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                      Jose_X, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 5:34pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      >> Once you can grasp the idea that there is a political stance, a political undertow to all of this, it is much easier to understand what is really going on.

                      We all benefit from knowing about abuses by government and those in power (including powerful corporations). It's important to know this information in order to perform our civic duties appropriately and as a defense against further abuses.

                      Anyone can set up a wikileaks style environment to accept anonymous whistle-blower contributions. Obviously, if someone picks wikileaks rather than some other group, it's very possibly because they trust wikileaks more than alternatives. Feel free to compete with wikileaks (as the New York Times and others have decided to do).

                       

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      weneedhelp (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

      Re: Sad to see

      Yeah, sad to see we are still focusing on the messenger instead of the messages.

      Good ole misdirection.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

        Re: Re: Sad to see

        No, I am focuses not on the messenger, I am focused on his actions, see my post above. It isn't what he is saying, it is how he is going about saying it.

         

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          Bruce Ediger (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Sad to see

          I'm sorry, but I don't see how that's different than focusing on the messenger. You're saying that it's not the message that matters, but the "convoluted actions" of the messenger.

          I really hate to argue, but that looks like verbal sleight of hand.

           

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          Jack Jersawitz, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 8:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: Sad to see

          I think you protest too much; that you hide your patriotism and support for the criminals running this government.

          You made a bunch of allegations about Assange, one about his high living, but you have not supported those.

          Recently the NY Times wrote about their first encounter with Assange in the Guardian offices in the U.K. Their description of him, of his clothing, hardly suggested a high liver, rather someone who knows his use of his talent has made him hot and so, rather than avoiding taxes, he keeps moving about to prevent being tracked.

          As I say your bias is showing but it would be much nicer it you openly said you hate Assange because you support this murderous government and their criminal deeds.

          Jack Jersawitz
          404-892-1238
          bigjackjj@yahoo.com

           

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      The eejit (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      I'd argue that his lawyers would be correct, given the rhetoric thrown his way by American governors and Senators. Add tot hat the fact that Sweden have an extradition treaty with America, and well, you can see where this is going.

      And that's not even a tinfoil-hat theory. Extraordinary rendition has taken place.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

        Re: Re:

        You understand by bringing it up they are hoping that people like you will say exactly what you are saying now? You understand that this is an attempt to put a talking point out there to get the media to pressure politicians into saying "oh no, we would never do that". It hasn't been suggested. It hasn't been talked about by anyone in the White House.

        It is another one of the reasons why I know Assange works from a political agenda, because his actions are exactly those of a politician, trying to protect himself and cover his own ass with misinformation and misdirection.

         

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          Jose_X, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 5:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, I think it is reasonable self-defense to try to hedge when revealing whistle-blower material on the powerful US government. This is material of wrong-doing of some nature or other.

          You personally might prefer not to hedge very much, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect someone to take extra precautions, especially when some of the matter concerns abuses by a mighty military or perhaps by people in high places.

           

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        Names are for Suckers, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 7:03pm

        Re: Re: Extradition to the United States

        just on this small point of Assange worrying about extradition to Sweden for his sexual assault case

        -for fear of then being extradited to the US:

        it would come as a surprise to many that the United Kingdom must then not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

        in the minds of the conspiratorial minded, why couldn't the man more easily be "spirited away" from the UK than neutral Sweden?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Same goes for domain seizures. Why should other countries respect United States laws [like DMCA takedown requests] when the United States doesn't even follow its own Constitution with regards to unreasonable seizures?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

    I think the political spectrum in the whole world is out of touch with their bases.

    That is why they fear the internet so much.

     

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    Anti-spy, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Credibility

    If the US wants to retain credibility then prosecute this criminal for espionage NOW.
    The internet is just a tool in this case.

     

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    lux (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:11pm

    "It is time for the United States to drop the case against WikiLeaks."

    Link the case please.

     

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    lostalaska (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    We (the USA) have a long history of this...

    Be it dropping atomic bombs on another country and then pushing for nuclear disarmament. Or talking about a free and open internet and then trying to block something they don't agree with. Seems like we have a long history of shooting ourselves in the foot. I kind of doubt this is going to change anytime soon.

     

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    regular reader, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    It is still a crime regardless of how much good this guy wanted to achieve by releasing classified materials. And he have done some good that's not out of the question.

    Maybe a modern day Robin Hood, someone who robs greedy banks and gives all stolen money to poor people is not a crime. Is it?

    He can be your hero... but he is still a criminal and possible rapist.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

      Re:

      "It is still a crime regardless of how much good this guy wanted to achieve by releasing classified materials."

      Pray tell, what crime was committed when Wikileaks published those documents?

       

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      JMT, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      The USG has so far failed to come up with any crime it can legitimately charge him with, and plenty of knowledgeable people have stated that they're unlikely to be able to. What do you know that they all don't?

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

      Re:

      It is still a crime regardless of how much good this guy wanted to achieve by releasing classified materials.

      Publishing classified info is not a crime. Newspapers do it all the time.

       

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        The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 6:02pm

        Re: Re:

        But it has been a crime, at least back during the First World War. Whether it's treated as a crime now in the US seems to depend on who's in charge at the US Justice Department. The timeline at the above link seems to show that outrage at secrets being published by the media seems to have died down as time went on, at least among the citizenry. The government's opinion of this activity was a different matter. Since Mr. Assange was not in the US when the alleged crime was committed and is not an US citizen, does that make him a foreign agent subject to US laws concerning espionage?

         

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          Any Mouse (profile), Feb 8th, 2011 @ 5:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you read your own link you will note that the ones passing the information are the ones in violation of that particular law. Not the news publications receiving it. It is arguable whether or not Wikileaks is a news publication, itself, but it certainly is not an individual passing the information on in secret to foreign agents. In fact, what they publish has been redacted.

           

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            The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 8th, 2011 @ 8:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The article to which I linked notes that during WWI, several newspapers and journalists were among the over 2000 people prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

            You must have missed that paragraph.

             

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    Hugh Mann (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    There's a difference . . . .

    . . . between having the freedom to express your disagreement with the government and having the freedom to publicize whatever confidential information you want to.

    Holding people responsible for the latter does not precludehe former.

    HM

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

      Re: There's a difference . . . .

      . . . between having the freedom to express your disagreement with the government and having the freedom to publicize whatever confidential information you want to.

      Are you really trying to suggest that a media organization publishing secrets they've uncovered is illegal?

      Would you cite anything that supports that position?

      Holding people responsible for the latter does not precludehe former.


      Do you honestly believe that punishing publishers of information does not create chilling effects on freedom of speech?

       

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    Just Wondering, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 3:20pm

    Freedom of Speech

    My Speech is being protected, Why do people think that its OK for someone to display Stolen information as if its their own. This is not Information Wikileaks comes up with on their own. This was Stolen information that was set for display. This is not someone voicing their opinion about a radical government. This was classified information that had not been released yet.

    Would it be ok for me or anyone else to release someone else Social Security Number Address and what not on wikileaks?

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:21pm

      Re: Freedom of Speech

      My Speech is being protected, Why do people think that its OK for someone to display Stolen information as if its their own.

      The information comes from our government, which represents us, and absent a prevailing reason to keep it secret it should be open to the public, no?

      Newspapers publish classified info all the time. It's part of how the media works.

      Would it be ok for me or anyone else to release someone else Social Security Number Address and what not on wikileaks?

      You do realize that's entirely different. An individual and the government are not the same.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    So how is Assange a (US) criminal? He's a non-US citizen. His site and activities are all outside of the US. He has no obligation whatsoever to US law. Lets say these leaks came from China. Would anybody be calling for his extradition to China for prosecution under Chinese law?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Ridiculous article. The US isn't trying to muffle the voice of its citizens - it is trying to protect the lives and reputations of people who are named in the secret information that is no longer secret. Some information doesn't need to be published - what exactly has Assange accomplished, other than making diplomacy more difficult?

     

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      Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:11pm

      Re:

      Ok... stop. Unless you have some kind of citation for the danger these people are supposedly in, stop playing that card.

      The US is trying to vindicate itself against the release of it's dirty laundry and the prevent anything else being waved around.

      Even Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't think it's a 'danger to troops or personnel'

      http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/pentagon-boss-is-not-sweating-wikileaks/

      http://www.t echeye.net/security/wikileaks-leak-not-dangerous

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:25pm

      Re:

      Ridiculous article. The US isn't trying to muffle the voice of its citizens - it is trying to protect the lives and reputations of people who are named in the secret information that is no longer secret. Some information doesn't need to be published - what exactly has Assange accomplished, other than making diplomacy more difficult?

      Myths and fairy tales.

      1. No one has presented any actual evidence that lives have been put at risk by this information.

      2. With the SD cables, Wikileaks did not publish the info first, but let newspapers pick and choose which cables to publish -- allowed them to handle the redacting, and similarly redacted the same cables. The idea that it published willy nilly information to put people's lives in danger is simply false.

      3. Who decides what info needs to be published? The press have a long tradition of publishing gov't secrets to hold them accountable to the people they represent.

      4. The leaks have exposed serious corruption and illegal behavior, including US firms pimping young boys to afghani police.

      5. There is no crime for making diplomacy more difficult.

      6. US diplomats have argued that this hasn't really made their lives any more difficult anyway.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re:

        1. Not so easy to do. Nobody wants to draw attention to particular cases. Think of your old "streisand effect" to understand why that information is being pushed hard.

        2. Then why would the news organizations choose not to publish or even discuss the vast majority of the documents? Is there that little real information in any of them?

        3. The "press" doesn't hire or support third parties doing break and enters or covert operations to get these documents. They work with what they receive, they don't actively offer sanctuary and encourage the actions that lead to those documents coming out.

        4. Single US firm, it is a tasteless act. It is also exceptional, not common currency. Are you suggesting that all firms working outside of the US pimp little boys?

        5. It would depend on what is done to make it more difficult. Getting spies into the State Department to leak documents, example, would be illegal.

        6. US diplomats appear to be under orders from Washington to downplay any Wikileaks effects. However, there have been some relocations ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/07/wikileaks-cables-us-diplomatic-sources ), as well as large numbers of warnings issued. NYT has reported that contacts inside a number of countries are less likely to be made as a result of the wire releases, straining relations in those areas ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/world/07wiki.html ).

        I find it funny that you question almost everything, but you are suddenly more than willing to accept the US governement's "Wikileaks isn't hurting us" cover story because it suits your needs.

         

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          Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Total Bullshit

          Nobody wants to draw attention to particular cases.

          Gates himself has admitted there are no such cases. QED.

           

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      athe, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 9:33pm

      Re:

      So... They're trying to close the stable door after the horse has already fled. That's essentially what you're saying.

       

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    The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 7th, 2011 @ 4:40pm

    Just for the sake of argument, let's take the internet out of this discussion for a moment.

    If Mr. Assange had received classified information from a person who was not authorized to release it, and had then published it or caused it to be published in print form, be it a book, newspaper, magazine, or whatever, would people in the US government still be clamoring for his prosecution?

    Probably, yes.

    If the documents had been dropped on his doorstep by unknown parties, is he part of a conspiracy to steal and distribute state secrets?

    Probably, no.

    Is he irresponsible for distributing the stolen material?

    That depends on whether a person supports the current and previous governments of the country that classified the information in the first place.

    If the person who illegally released the information talked to Mr. Assange and said "Here's some really cool stuff that will totally embarrass [country/corporation/vip/media outlet/hollywood starlet], would you like it?" and Mr. Assange said "Well, certainly I would!", would he be a member of a conspiracy to do just that?

    Probably, yes.

    Would the country/company/person/media outlet/etc... be able to take legal action against Mr. Assange?

    That depends on a lot of things like where he was located, local laws, and so on. IANAFL so I don't consider myself qualified to answer this question.

    Until some of these questions are answered, the rest is just speculation.

    Whether or not the US government is losing the moral high ground on the internet, if it ever had it, depends on a person's opinion of that government. I don't know if anyone has a handle on what the "rest of the world" thinks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 6:01pm

    I would add my comments but then I would sound as stupid as most of the people posting here do.

     

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    Random Blowhard, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 7:51pm

    Credibility?. We were against torture before we were for it, anyway Gitmo is not a gulag, the president says so... We will not sensor the internet unless it suits our political agenda... or our Wall Street/Corporate Overlords command us to do so

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 9:13pm

    Great Article!!! How true this will be!!

     

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    Random Sharp, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 8:33pm

    Regarding Wikileaks and Blackmail

    To those who say that Wikileaks has been threatening people with information, let me give you where this erroneous idea originates:

    Cablegate is a massive information trove, which wikileaks is releasing in a steady stream, or leak if you like, over the next undetermined amount of time. All of it will be released, the order simply a matter of organization. Giving previews of the good stuff is just icing on the cake.

    The "threat" is that if Assange is unable to continue releasing it himself, then the key to an encrypted archive of the entire cablegate will be released, allowing all the information to come out at once.

    It isn't a threat, because the EXACT SAME THING happens EITHER WAY. I apologize for the caps lock, but as I veer verbose I must emphasize my point.

     

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    Manly, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    BS

    The rape charges are total bull$hit.. One of the girls even have known CIA ties (that she was deported from Cuba because of)

    The biggest Pro-assange movement is sweedish (theyre also tired of radical feminists with hidden agenda's)

    One of the girls had a blog about how to get revenge on guys by accusing them of rape..

    There are Emails between the girls where they were planning to hurt Assange.. coz he never called them back lol.. they suddenly discovered that they had been raped a week after the fact)

    Sweeden goverment is playing ball.. they have been really accomodating in regards to CIA renditions in the past (big scandal since many European people view the CIA as a terrorist organization)

     

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


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