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.

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Comments on “If Assange Were In China, US Politicians Would Be Cheering Him On”

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53 Comments
Hulser (profile) says:

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.

rstr5105 (profile) says:

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.

Hulser (profile) says:

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).

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Pierre Wolff (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Darryl says:

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..

FearlessWhenAnonymous (profile) says:

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.

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