Hypocritical CIA Director Goes On Rant About Wikileaks, Free Speech

from the doesn't-seem-to-care-much-for-either dept

The current administration is back to threatening free speech. On his way to being elected, Trump's passion for bogus defamation suits led him to declare he would "open up" libel laws to make it easier for him to sue people for saying things he didn't like.

This continued after the election. Trump tweeted his opposition to "fake news," calling out pretty much any major network that wasn't Fox News and calling them "enemies of the people." His new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, is similarly threatening the First Amendment. In his remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo went on a rant about Wikileaks -- one no doubt motivated by the site's recent data dumps on CIA computer exploits.

WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.

It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.

This is an interesting change of heart for Pompeo. Last year, when he was running for re-election in Kansas, he seemed pleased with Wikileaks and its ability to obtain damning documents.

If you can't read/see the embedded, since-deleted tweet by Pompeo, it reads:

Need further proof the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC leaked by Wikileaks.

So, Wikileaks is a non-hostile intelligence service when it serves Pompeo's ends, but not so much when it puts CIA hacking tools on public display. This was only part of Pompeo's rant, though. Once he was through being hypocritical, he went after the First Amendment. Here's Glenn Greenwald's take on Pompeo's comments:

Trump’s CIA Director stood up in public and explicitly threatened to target free speech rights and press freedoms, and it was almost impossible to find even a single U.S. mainstream journalist expressing objections or alarm, because the targets Pompeo chose in this instance are ones they dislike – much the way that many are willing to overlook or even sanction free speech repression if the targeted ideas or speakers are sufficiently unpopular.

Decreeing (with no evidence) that WikiLeaks is “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” a belief that has become gospel in establishment Democratic Party circles – Pompeo proclaimed that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” He also argued that while WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” but: “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.”

He then issued this remarkable threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” At no point did Pompeo specify what steps the CIA intended to take to ensure that the “space” to publish secrets “ends now.”

Pompeo is now willing to go after publishers of secrets. No doubt he intends to go after whistleblowers and leakers as well, but he has publicly stated a desire to attack the messengers. Making this worse is Pompeo's hypocrisy, which means any targeting of publishers he attempts to engage in will be based on the content of the publications. Stuff he doesn't like will be targeted. Everything else will remain unaffected.

Of course, Pompeo's in the wrong branch of government to be engaging in First Amendment issues. The CIA is a foreign-facing intelligence agency. It should have nearly nothing to do with domestic whistleblower/leaker incidents, unless it happens to be CIA documents that are released. Even then, his agency won't be able to do anything more than an internal investigation. It's not a law enforcement agency, nor is it supposed to be engaged in domestic surveillance.

But Pompeo is the president's pick. He may think he's only speaking for himself and his agency, but his words echo the president's antipathy towards speech he doesn't like. And he has his president's hypocrisy: someone who loves Wikileaks when it's publishing documents that hurt the other team, but not so much when the leaks implicate people, parties, and agencies they hold dear.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 8:12am

    "To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for."

    I don't think you understand what the Constitution stands for, totalitarian sir. Giving people to express their opinions and to shine light over shady government practices while being protected for doing so is what the Constitution stands for. And believe me, I think you are part of a hostile intelligence service and that you are spewing utter bullshit but contrary to you I don't think you should be silenced. Actually, I'm exercising my free speech rights to call you on your bullshit.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 9:41am

    WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service.

    What does he expect when the government security services have declared war on the people?

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

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 9:56am

    "The FBI/CIA walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged normal citizens to commit acts of terror in order to spread fear mongering. It directed Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi to send money and weapons to militant groups in Iraq. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations."

    Fixed that for you...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 10:11am

    Wikileaks is based in Iceland not US, right? Then it's not domestic surveillance.

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 10:24am

      Re:

      The leaked documents are about domestic surveillance by the NSA and CIA. They're based in the US.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:05am

        Re: Re:

        Recent leaks don't show illegal domestic surveillance, just standard foreign espionage tools.

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

        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They showed a lot of effectively unchecked mass domestic surveillance of millions of Americans.

          As John Oliver said, "Look, we're not accusing you of breaking the law. We're just a little creeped out that you didn't have to."

          The leaks also showed that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper directly lied under oath to Congress when he claimed that it wasn't happening.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:22am

    “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”

    Why? Did they hurt your feelings?

    I like to repeat and propagate some of the things that WikiLeaks publishes to people I know. Does that mean they can no longer allow me the latitude to use free speech against them? Does me speaking out about the horrifying past of the CIA (both confirmed and suspected) considered to be hostile? If so, where does that put the average citizen if they say mean (but factual) things about them?

    Notice he has nothing to say related to the accuracy of WikiLeaks. Or how everything they've released has been confirmed to be official. He doesn't attempt to refute anything they've released because he can't. Apparently the truth doesn't matter to him. Not surprising really since this guy has also called for Snowden to be executed for treason.

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
    -George Orwell

    It seems to me this is where we are: In a time of universal deceit. And it's not just this particularly obvious moron, Pompeo. It's every single one of our "representatives" who do everything they can to obfuscate. When truth does slip out they scramble to regain control of the narrative. They make it seem like it's all so complicated that we couldn't possibly understand. The truth is often very simple. The reason things are so complicated (tax laws, anyone?) is to discourage people from looking into it and understanding it for themselves. What would we ever do without these "experts" telling us what to think? God forbid we come to our own conclusions. That would be dangerous :-P

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      The reason things are so complicated (tax laws, anyone?) is to discourage people from looking into it and understanding it for themselves.

      Seems a little tin-foil-plated to me. I suspect the reason things are so complicated is because its very hard to write a set of rules that can't be gamed and abused. Trying tends to waste a lot of ink and paper and time- and the results can still be gamed and abused, it's just harder to understand to the necessary degree.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re:

        "I suspect the reason things are so complicated is because its very hard to write a set of rules that can't be gamed and abused."

        Wrong, complicated rules are hard what is easy to game and abuse, which is the reason that they WRITE THEM!

        Simple laws benefit the people, complex laws benefit lawyers and governments.

        thank you for drinking the kool aid!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2017 @ 12:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          >complicated rules are hard

          A simple rule: Possession of child porn is illegal.

          This raises some very important questions:
          1. What is a child?
          2. What is porn?
          3. What is possession?

          We all agree that someone who is 18 years old is probably an adult, at least legally. We can all agree that someone who is 12 years old is not. How about a 17-year-old? Where is this line between child and adult drawn?

          Is this line the same as the age of consent? In some states it could be legal to have consensual sex with a 16 or 17 year old, but pictures or videotape of that event would be illegal. Is this just? Do we want a 16-year-old boy to go to jail and be a sex offender for life because he took pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend?

          What about animation? Is a cartoon child a child for the purposes of this statute? What about the Simpson children, who are "older" than many porn stars these days? Is a depiction of Lisa and Milhouse considered to be child porn?

          What about self-shot pictures? Should a teenager be prosecuted for possessing pictures of his or her own body?

          What is porn? A baby in a bathtub? A 10-year-old in a bathtub? Does it matter if it is a relative that took the picture? Does it matter if a relative now possesses the picture?

          Is it possession if the images exist in unallocated space on a harddrive? What about that picture of Uncle Jim from when he was

          Black and white only matter if you stay far away from the lines. As soon as you get close, the lines blur, and a more precise line has to be drawn. These more precise lines can be drawn by legislators, regulators, or judges, but there is no way to write a law, regulation, or judicial ruling that applies to every case.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Fair enough about the tin foil as I've presented no hard evidence, but I disagree about the complexity. I think the simpler it is, the harder it is to game.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 2:21pm

        Re: Re:

        The biggest reason for complication is the number of politicians that have an input into writing a law. They are the sort of people who will not accept what is written unless some of their edits are included. Too many cooks and all that.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 3:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Well considering this recent article, there's not much tin-plating to this theory about tax law, at least.

        https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170321/10194336968/majority-intuits-lobbying-dollars-spent -trying-to-stop-irs-making-it-easier-to-file-your-taxes.shtml

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:36am

    Reading the comments here thus far, I must wonder if anyone of the commenters actually watched and listened to Mr. Pompeo's presentation. It seems unlikely.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      Does he take back his statements elsewhere in the presentation? Perhaps facepalm before admitting, 'You know what, I just realized how stupid what I'm saying is, never mind what I said before'?

      Because what's listed seems damning enough, and I wouldn't expect the rest to be much better based upon the quotes available.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:53am

      Re:

      Why does it give a completely different impression? Or does the context make these quotes somehow less totalitarian? I would watch it myself but I can't do that at work. (But I can hang out and comment on techdirt all day lol)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 6:19pm

      Re:

      Slonecker? Is that you?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2017 @ 1:00pm

    I heard their attempt at a constitutional convention has fallen on its face. How do they intend to proceed? An executive order does not cut it when they want to change the constitution - for example changing the first amendment.

    the first one FFS.

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

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 18 Apr 2017 @ 1:17pm

    . . . a non-state hostile intelligence service . . .

    Its the non-state part that drives these people up the wall. They don't know how to deal with it.

    They've got no problems with state intelligence services, no matter how hostile. They have no problem with state combatants, no matter how ruthless - even condemnations of democide are prefaces with platitudes detailing how illegitimate the regime involved is, as if a real government killing its citizens is just fine.

    But non-state actors threaten the existence of nation-states - they threaten the legitimacy of the very concept of a nation-state and why its required. if non-state actors can do most of what a state can, then what's the point of the state?

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

  • identicon
    Adios, 19 Apr 2017 @ 9:58am

    The king's invisible clothes

    There is no democracy in a society with secrets.

    Kindergarten 101 learning and logic.

    Need a means test to weed out idiots, clowns, morons, etc. who seek public office.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2017 @ 4:49pm

    ELI5

    "We hate WikiLeaks because they made us look bad with facts".

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


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