Wikileaks

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Wikileaks is ...

... a threat to national security. These guys are endangering national security and should be tried as traitors!
7
33%
... a threat to national security, but done with noble intentions.
2
10%
... a good idea taken too far.
7
33%
... inevitable in this world of information freedom.
0
No votes
... an important public service, protecting us from tyranny
5
24%
 
Total votes: 21

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Wikileaks

Postby Caspian » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:12 pm

What's your take on Wikileaks?
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Postby jotabe » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:50 pm

I can understand why politicians want to keep (a great) part of their dealings secret. I just can't sympathize, even less as a scientist.
And then politicians and other govt high rankers tend to confuse "national security" with "personal embarrasments and delictive behaviour".

It's particularly shocking that conservative and libertarian media are so vocal against wikileaks, having in account their well-known mistrust of the government, and being such great fans of non-politically correct language. Diplomacy reeks of politically correct language so much you could die, and these leaked documents bring in some fresh air.
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Postby Luet » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:57 pm

You should add an option for "I've heard the term but have no idea what they actually are." Yeah, I really should watch/read the news.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:50 pm

I do think names should have been blanked out. I have a friend who comes from a family of diplomats, and this could theoretically endanger her parents, their friends, people she knows. Real people. Which we tend to forget in our outrage over practices and shady dealings and down-with-the-government sentiments.
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Postby jotabe » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:51 am

These documents will be a source of embarrasment, not actual danger for any diplomat.
And for the record, politicians are real people too, with families that love them and pets they love. Yes, even that politician whose ideas you think most outrageous and hateful shares moments of romantical tenderness that would make them look like Bambi with someone else.
But they are still doing their shady business. Should we refrain from denouncing them, because they are real people with real families?

In any case, EL, this talk of endangering only comes from the scaremongering of governments themselves and press who want to get a "patriotic badge" on their chests. These leaked documents endanger no diplomats, same as previously leaked documents on Iraq and Afghanistan war endangered no actual soldiers (unless they had commited war crimes, in which case they would be endangered of losing the army protection against being tried, because it would be publicly too shameful not doing it).

Edit: if names are blanked out, if documents are edited in any way, who's to say nothing else was edited out? You can blank out a name, or a verb, or an adjective that are essential to differentiate between 2 possible meanings of a text.
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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:36 am

Wikileaks has consistently spent millions and requested Pentagon support for reviewing any potential harm their leaks could produce. The Defense Secretary himself has said that any actual effect on the diplomatic corps would be fairly modest.

Nobody seems bothered by the fact that it's only thanks to Wikileaks it's out in the open that the primary funding for our actual enemies in the middle-east comes from Saudi Arabia, while Saudi Arabia simultaneously urges us to invade Iran over their suspicions that Iran is funding terrorists, and we do nothing about pursuing Suadis who actually fund terrorists.

Since when was it the media's job to keep government secrets? Since when has the US been the nation that arrests journalists who know things they shouldn't know, and the people the ones that attack the ones who keep them informed and thank the ones who keep them in the dark about what's being done in their name?

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Postby Caspian » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:23 am

On the whole, I'm with Jota and Janus on this. I'm of the opinion that government secrets are generally a bad thing.

One thing I wonder about wikileaks is, the mainstream media has been pretty hard on wikileaks. But isn't this THEIR job? To expose secrets, to publish leaks, to blow things open? Isn't that the role of media in a democratic society? How is it that the media is coming out in favour of secrets?
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Postby Rei » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:11 pm

In general I suspect it's pretty much always been the media's job to create a semblance of openness while keeping the government's secrets.
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Postby Confessions » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:31 pm

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/ron- ... wikileaks/

“In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Paul insisted. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.

Data released by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday showed that foreign banks were among the biggest recipients of some $3.3 trillion in emergency loans offered by the US central bank amid the 2008 financial crisis.

More than $290 billion worth of mortgage securities were sold to Deutsche Bank, a German lender. Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank, got more than $287 billion in mortgage bonds. Corporations like Caterpillar, General Electric, Harley Davidson, McDonald’s, Verizon and Toyota also relied the programs.
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Postby daPyr0x » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:01 pm

Government secrets are important in dealing in the global arena. There's no question of that in my mind. The question becomes, then, what needs to be classified? How? For how long? The whole point of this cable release is not to undermine secrecy but rather to illustrate that the question of what needs to be classified has not been answered adequately by the US government over the past years.

An interesting thing to note. The people who are complaining the loudest about the wikileaks release are the people who have the most to gain by having these secrets maintained. The people are the boss of the nation. We are the shareholders. The politicians are merely the board of directors. There's a reason financial statements and audits are so heavily regulated, it's imperative that the shareholders know what's going on inside the company to decide how to handle their investment. Government is no different, sometimes they need to be reminded of that. Wikileaks is reminding them of that. We are all responsible to our shareholders.

I'm anxiously awaiting the conclusion of this tangled mess. I maintain suspicion that the big news has yet to drop in this cable release, and further I expect the next target - Bank of America - to cause some tangible ripples through society. I think WL has started something here...a positive trend I hope, unfortunately likely to be lined with pain points for many along the way.
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Postby jotabe » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:40 am

Lots of stuff that make sense and with which i agree.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:50 pm

So... opinions on the newest, "critical sites" leak?

Me, I think that this leak was unneccessary (really? do the general public really, really need to know this? is it covering anything up?), and dangerous (man, if I were a terrorist, I'd be thrilled to know exactly where I could cause the most damage).
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:46 pm

I haven't accessed any of the wikileaked information and do not intend to do so. The information is still classified, regardless of its unauthorized disclosure, and must be treated as such by federal employees. Given that I'm currently in the interview process with some federal agencies, and given that they're super serious about determining if I have good judgment and the ability to deal with confidential information, it's probably best I stay away.

Carry on.
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Postby daPyr0x » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:24 pm

Carry on.
Thanks, DEA. Your profile pic is missing the telltale badge ;-)
So... opinions on the newest, "critical sites" leak?

Me, I think that this leak was unneccessary (really? do the general public really, really need to know this? is it covering anything up?), and dangerous (man, if I were a terrorist, I'd be thrilled to know exactly where I could cause the most damage).
Yeah, I'm a little mixed on this one myself. I do believe it's wholly irresponsible to broadcast a document containing self-defined "critical sites," however I don't genuinely believe that the point of the release had anything to do with that.

The whole point behind the cable release was to identify that the multi-level secrecy system currently used in the US is not being used appropriately. Things are kept secret and confidential that don't need to be and the government actively works to keep the public in the dark with regards to it's activities. Secrets aren't bad, they're necessary - to an extent. Relating back to this "critical site" leak, I think it's a prime example of precisely this point. While there are definitely military installations and other "critical sites" that need to be noted and guarded, the scope of the document in question clearly goes above and beyond what needs to be termed "critical" and "confidential." I just don't think that pharmaceutical manufacturing locations needs to be considered classified information, nor do I think knowing the Government looks to them in times of medical emergency is all that spectacular. Terrorists are logical people, too; and if I could've figured out where anthrax vaccines are made I'm sure they could've too, without the aid of this document.

Of course, making a point in principle is not the same as leaking a document that can be considered to impede safety and security for thousands (I'm referring to site employees here - I refuse to suggest WL would be at fault for any actual terrorist action) of innocent people, many of whom likely aren't even aware their workplace is on such a list.
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Postby Caspian » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:27 pm

The Wikileaks cables have less to do with individual decisions than with the broader approach the United States has accelerated since 9/11 towards aggressively invading the privacy of its citizens and foreign nationals, all the while shielding even its most mundane government functions from scrutiny under the aegis of national security.
http://gizmodo.com/5709194/the-reaction ... out-of-you
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Postby spanish_rockette » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:46 pm

I'm with Luet. I've heard about it in school, but I really don't know crap about i. It sounds like a good idea, that went a little bit over board, but I don't know.
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Postby Confessions » Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:33 pm

What's far more interesting than the Wikileaks themselves is the trolling/reverse trolling, hacking/counter-hacking of Wikileaks, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, DDoS wars, Federal demands of deletion of log sites, etc going on between 4chan /b/tards, pro-Assange hactivists and pro-nationalist/anti-Wikileaks (government supported?) hackers. s***, even the national news/big media outlets (MSNBS, CNN) reported on it - PayPal even caved, as far as I know; they'd frozen Wikileaks account and apparently the attacks against them worked and they released the funds. Internet censorship, government transparency, citizen digital activism... It's going down.
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Postby zeroguy » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:16 pm

Directionless rambling:

This kind of thing has been happening for awhile, in a sense, but Wikileaks as an organization just made it happen at a much larger scale and much more prominently in the public eye. Anyone whose been around certain circles around the net knows what happens when you try to suppress an information leak: it gets worse. And anyone knows what happens if you do publicly do something to support censorship or anything the imageboard demographic really doesn't like: you get DDoSed by vigilantes. Only now, it's happening with world governments and such instead of little sites on the internet nobody cares about. It's the largest amount of effort I think I've seen anyone use to try and suppress something on the internet (that wasn't successfully suppressed, anyway).

I sometimes find the effectiveness of *chan vigilantism troubling, but I guess it doesn't come up much, since you have to do something really huge for them to pay attention for more than 5 minutes. But still, the level of effort is incredibly low. All you need in order to do damage to an organization is numbers; you don't need money or even that much organization. You just need to say "hey click this link for LOIC", and a _lot_ of people will do it; instant voluntary botnet.

Edit: Also, this has some good timing, hah: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/12/152465.htm
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Postby VelvetElvis » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:39 pm

I haven't accessed any of the wikileaked information and do not intend to do so. The information is still classified, regardless of its unauthorized disclosure, and must be treated as such by federal employees. Given that I'm currently in the interview process with some federal agencies, and given that they're super serious about determining if I have good judgment and the ability to deal with confidential information, it's probably best I stay away.

Carry on.
Apparently us federal employees can be terminated for looking at wikileaks.
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Postby Confessions » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:24 am

One Fox News station ran a poll: Do you think the hackers should be considered terrorists?

It was split 50-50.

As if anyone had actually "hacked" anything. As if it wasn't just spamming download requests and overloading servers. As if any networks/security had actually been compromised. It was as any given business, a pizza parlor for instance, had gotten its phone and fax lines jammed up by a couple of disgruntled customers who just continually called/faxed, and the business claimed they'd been burglarized. No one broke into anything. And this is, of course, not even touching the fact that they, you know, you didn't kill anyone. And these are my countrymen. Good grief. Giving such unprecedented credence and legitimacy to imageboard script kiddies - not that what they have wrought isn't incredible; that they've managed to hivemind themselves long enough, and fixate their efforts concentrated enough to accomplish federal intervention of Encyclopedia Dramatica?

That's saying something. But to even elevate what was done to the level of 'hacking' is disingenuous; terrorism? These are the idiots who want to try Assange, a citizen of another country, for treason. YOU CAN'T TRY ANOTHER COUNTRY'S CITIZEN FOR TREASON AGAINST YOUR OWN. If an American had leaked classified Russian documents and the Russians were manipulating s*** around the world to try and get that American tried for treason in Russia, can you imagine the response?

It doesn't matter what your particular view on the entirety of the Wikileaks series of events is; this is the bottom line - someone with access to classified documents gave them to someone the government didn't want them to. That person - who has no obligation to keep the information secret, regardless of what it contains - is letting everyone know about it. That's it. If the information is so vital, and so secret, keep a better lid on it. In the most recent leak, the servicemember who put it in the hands of Wikileaks commented on how ridiculously easy it was - why is that not the primary issue here?

The government wants you to think of how it's Wikileaks as this big bad secret-stealing machine against which they are powerless and need our support to fight - but it's their own incompetency which has given rise to these events. It's their own insatiable need for opacity and secrecy. It's their own lust for power - and now, they will invariably find a way to use this to their advantage - because we are stupid, collectively. Individually we may be rational, intelligent people, but we cannot seem to be so when we need to act as one. They will find a way to increase their secrecy, because they will tell us what happened shows how 'important' it is. They will find a way to increase their ability to censor information, because of how 'dangerous' it is. They will find a way to increase their power, because 'we' cannot be trust with it.

I've never believed in the coming New World Order more than I do now.

One last little thing...
I haven't accessed any of the wikileaked information and do not intend to do so. The information is still classified, regardless of its unauthorized disclosure, and must be treated as such by federal employees
That's right. Terrorists can access the information. Billions of non-Americans can access the information. But Americans? Accessing information about their own government? Accessing information that is the result of their blood, sweat and tears? Their trillions upon trillions of tax dollars? That would be wrong - and our government will punish them.

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Postby jotabe » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:19 am

I don't think there is need to involve conspiracy theories about NWO and things like that. It's a too human attitude: when you get an embarrasing secret discovered, it doesn't matter if it was really an open secret, or if it was a matter of minor importance, your reaction is just as violent as if you were actually assaulted. And first thing you do is take it on the messenger.

Not only that: wikileaks is perceived as a permanent kid who tells the emperor he's naked, so the temptation to shut them up for good might be too strong. The methods to shut them up can range between the obvious (assassination, criminalization), or underhanded (make the lead guy suspicious of something nasty to turn the public against him). And only because a matter of personal pride. Human nature is like that.
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Postby Gravity Defier » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:22 am

I don't think there is need to involve conspiracy theories about NWO and things like that.
I'm assuming this is Satya we're talking about, so don't be so surprised.
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Postby jotabe » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:25 am

wasn't he a christian?
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Postby Wil » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:09 pm

I voted in this poll originally (good idea taken too far), I just never posted. However, it occurs to me today that with Anonymous attacking Mastercard, Paypal, and today 'announcing' their intentions to attack Amazon, all this is doing is screwing me over. How? What a great way for the government and lobbiests to argue AGAINST net neutrality: Net Neutrality allows "cyber terrorism".

God damnit.

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Postby jotabe » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:19 pm

Wil, that's only if citizens buy it. And really, if people buy it, people don't deserve net neutrality.
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Postby daPyr0x » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:09 pm

Thank you. I was beginning to wonder if anyone else recognized just how important right now is.

The first thing that I would like to point out is the "Pentagon Papers" that were published by the NYT back in 1971. Colesnotes version? Exactly the same thing as WikiLeaks happened once before, except it was Daniel Ellsberg who did the leaking. The US was in a war, he had proof showing the reasons for and details of this war were being misrepresented to the American public, and he published a story about it. What happened next? Well, according to Ellsberg, the exact same thing (this is seriously an interesting read), the result of which being...nothing. The government tried to prevent the paper from being published, which failed.
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They then tried to prosecute Ellsberg - who actually did illegally copy documents (he'd be the alleged ) - but failed at that as well 'cause they didn't play by the rules (illegal wiretapping, etc).

The point of that whole diatribe is to show that there is legal precedent here showing that publishing leaked documents is not a crime, no matter how little the government likes it. It's hilarious to hear politicians and television personalities alike call Assange - an Australian - a traitor or accuse him of treason. Does nobody understand the term treason means undermining one's own government? Many criticize the "danger" associated with the publications, but ignore the fact that with each document release WikiLeaks has sent letters to the Pentagon asking for assistance with identifying items or names that should be redacted. They have refused.

So now that we understand that Wikileaks as an organization has done nothing wrong in publishing documents it had been given, we take a look at the response by the community at large. Visa and Mastercard are currently refusing to process donations to them, Paypal closed their account and seized their funds (today they've announced they'll be releasing the funds, though not reopening their account). Assange, the public figurehead for the corporation, has also had his passport revoked and "rape" charges pressed against him as a result of these situations.

NOTE: That last sentence is where I enter my own spin on the facts. I've come to that conclusion based on the publicized facts about one accuser - the instigator - having ties to the CIA and a blog detailing how to get revenge on men. The story, as it has been presented from both sides, is that Julian had consensual sex with two women, however the condom broke with both which is considered a crime in Sweden - punishable by a fine equivalent to $725US. Sweden is a country not known for it's tough stance on rape cases, in fact it's known for quite the opposite - the fact that they managed to issue an Interpol red notice arrest warrant for this is suspicious in and of itself. Especially considering these allegations were originally made in August when Assange was still in Sweden; he extended his stay there to attempt to reconcile them and retained approval from the prosecutor prior to leaving the country - but now they want him extradited back. It is based on these facts that I've come to the conclusion these charges are due to Assange's wikileaks involvement and not a forced sexual encounter.

What we've learned [so far] from these releases
- Shell corporation supposedly "owns" the Nigerian government, with their representatives working alongside all arms of government officials ensuring the company retains a competitive advantage over their large supplies of oil
- The "war on terror" has been expanded to include bombing runs in Yemen. Additionally, agreements were reached with certain Yemenese politicians to lie to the public and other officials to say the bombings were done domestically.
- Hilary Clinton signed an order instructing diplomats to spy on UN representatives, requesting all information including credit card numbers, frequent flier accounts, etc.
- CIA agents detained a German citizen, brought him to Afghanistan where he was tortured, sodomized, and injected with drugs. After months of this, once they were convinced they had the wrong man (same name, different person), they brought him to Albania and dropped him on a desolate road at night time, with nary an apology or funds to get home.
- The UK had been allowing the US to store cluster bombs, which were

Why does this matter to me?
Julian Assange is currently sitting in a cell after having been denied bail on a crime he hasn't even been charged with, undoubtedly due to his involvement with WikiLeaks. His funding has been frozen, his travel restricted, and his name slandered throughout the US; despite having not committed a crime. His only crime has been to publish something the US government did not like. If all this happens to a non-citizen with the entire world watching, what's going to happen when one of the 310 million people located within domestic borders says something the government doesn't like? What if it's you? That may seem outlandish, most of us will never have the sort of power to publish something of this magnitude, but the US government has slowly been increasing the restrictions on speech for a long time. Ever wonder why none of the Mythbuster-esque shows have taken on the security theatre that is the TSA?

More importantly, how do you feel about how your tax dollars are being spent? Do you want to pay for the CIA to sodomize an innocent man 'cause they suspect someone with the same name might be associated with a terrorist organization? How about when your armed forces decide to gun down civilians and journalists from a helicopter? If you're an American citizen, you paid for that. Each and every life-taking bullet was paid for with money you earned. How does that make you feel? What about Guantanamo bay prisoners being force-fed drugs associated with "potentially severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including seizures, intense vertigo, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, aggression, panic, anxiety, severe insomnia, and thoughts of suicide" as part of a technique referred to as "Pharmacologic Waterboarding." There's no trial, no presumption of innocence, no nothing. If you are a tax-paying American citizen, you paid for this. Every life-taking bullet, psychosis-inducing drug, and internationally illegal cluster bomb was paid for with your money. But you best not complain, else you'll end up in a worse situation than Assange.

[edit] I just found this and thought it was appropriately left here...

Call me a sensationalist all you want, but the G20 summit in Toronto happened - 1100 people detained, 300 actually charged, 250 of those charges dropped; charges against officers videotaped savagely beating a nonviolent man for giving a name they thought was a lie (Nobody), dropped. The tuition protests in the UK happened (quote from story, "I didn't understand quite how bad things had become in this country until I saw armoured cops being deployed against schoolchildren in the middle of Whitehall."). Your right to free speech, your right to knowing how your tax dollars are spent and having a say in it, is being progressively removed by the rich. Our enemy is the apathy that's taken over this generation. We have power in numbers, but only if we use it.

[bah - you people went on a totally different topic...I will return with more commentary on the net neutrality/cyber terrorism section]
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:03 pm

Just a few quick notes (more later):
These are the idiots who want to try Assange, a citizen of another country, for treason. YOU CAN'T TRY ANOTHER COUNTRY'S CITIZEN FOR TREASON AGAINST YOUR OWN.
The Espionage Act does indeed apply to foreign nationals committing acts of espionage abroad. See, e.g., U.S. v. Zehe, 601 F.Supp. 196 (D. Mass. 1985) (applying the Act to an East German citizen who allegedly committed acts of espionage in Mexico). Is this a suprise to anyone? It shouldn't be. It's a long-standing rule of international law that nations have jurisdiction over conduct committed by foreign nationals outside its territory that threaten its security or the operation of its governmental functions. See, e.g., Restatement (Second) of Foreign Relations Law § 33 (1965) (cited by eight of the thirteen federal appellate courts).

The point of that whole diatribe is to show that there is legal precedent here showing that publishing leaked documents is not a crime, no matter how little the government likes it.
Pro-tip: read the case before talking about it. Yes, a majority of the Court found that the government hadn't presented enough evidence to allow an injunction. A majority of the Court also concluded the U.S. could prosecute the newspapers for Espionage Act violations.
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Postby Wil » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:16 pm

The Espionage Act does indeed apply to foreign nationals committing acts of espionage abroad.
"The Supreme Court ruled that the Espionage Act only applies if the documents were actively solicited. So if Wikileaks received them and published them without soliciting them, then they are covered under Constitutional freedom of press. This is very unlikely to be overturned. Thus it is merely a question of fact regarding whether or not wikileaks solicited them. (And our prosecutors have been unable to find evidence that, legally speaking, they did.) The fact is, Wikileaks manages to only solicit them implicitly by reputation of being a convenient place to send things a person wants leaked. It's really the guy who sent them who is in serious trouble."

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Postby daPyr0x » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:19 pm

Just a few quick notes (more later):
Pro-tip: read the case before talking about it. Yes, a majority of the Court found that the government hadn't presented enough evidence to allow an injunction. A majority of the Court also concluded the U.S. could prosecute the newspapers for Espionage Act violations.
You are correct, the government could prosecute the publishing newspapers under this act, but could they win? In order to qualify as illegal under the act and not protected under the first amendment, they would need to prove clear and present danger, as was done in Shenck v. US. So, they'd need to have some proof to show that the text publication brought about a clear and present danger or would provoke an imminent lawless action. I don't know enough of the details of the situation back then (let's be honest here - this was all happening 15 years before I was born) to comment on whether or not that would've been successful. I suspect the reason they didn't pursue the activity further was 'cause they were doubtful about their chances as well.
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Postby jotabe » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:55 pm

The Espionage Act does indeed apply to foreign nationals committing acts of espionage abroad. See, e.g., U.S. v. Zehe, 601 F.Supp. 196 (D. Mass. 1985) (applying the Act to an East German citizen who allegedly committed acts of espionage in Mexico).
Yes, a majority of the Court found that the government hadn't presented enough evidence to allow an injunction. A majority of the Court also concluded the U.S. could prosecute the newspapers for Espionage Act violations.
What shows where the priorities of lawmakers and law specialists lie. Covering themselves silly, making convoluted laws that gives them jurisdiction where they don't have. Being untouchable themselves.
No wonder they were against an international tribunal, they consider themselves to be such.
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:07 pm

Okay, I have a lot to say on this topic, but it's the middle of finals week(s) and I've still got fifteen law journal articles to read and evaluate before the end of the month. I do intend to come back afterwards and hash it all out, but for now, just so we're all on the same page, a note:

The Espionage Act has a number of overlapping provisions. For example, it prohibits the receipt of certain documents, information, etc. when the recipient knows (or should have known) that the source violated the Act. It also prohibits the communication, delivery, or transmission of the material to anyone not entitled to receive it and further prohibits the retention of the material. (Federal law also prohibits the conversion of "any thing of value" to the United States and the receipt, concealment, or retention of such with intent to convert it to his or her own use or gain.)

Think of it like child pornography, if that helps. It's not just unlawful to distribute child pornography, but to possess it, as well. It's not just unlawful to communicate the confidential material, but to receive it (subject to a few limitations) and to retain possession of it, as well. Of course, I think your analysis of his communication of the material is off-base, too, but that's a pretty complicated argument and one that I don't have time for right now (but would be happy to discuss later).
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:20 pm

making convoluted laws that gives them jurisdiction where they don't have. [...] No wonder they were against an international tribunal, they consider themselves to be such.
I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this. I assume you're talking about the United States in particular, given that we are perhaps the most vocal about the problems with the International Criminal Court and your comments about an international tribunal don't really make sense if you're trying to make a more general point (given that nearly all of Europe has joined).

It's a well-established principle of international law that there is jurisdiction in those cases. It isn't a case of the United States just deciding, "hey, we have jurisdiction." It's a case of the body of international law establishing such jurisdiction exists.
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Postby daPyr0x » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:07 pm

It is evident that you are more familiar with the intricacies of the Espionage Act than I, and I respect that as my knowledge of it extends about as far as the Wikipedia page.
It prohibited any attempt to interfere with military operations, to support America's enemies during wartime, to promote insubordination in the military, or to interfere with military recruitment. In 1919, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Schenck v. United States that the act did not violate the free speech rights of those convicted under its provisions.
I would argue that the publication of materials a journalist receives - not requests - would be protected under free speech. If I open an envelope, read what's in it, and choose to disclose the contents to another party, I am free to do so provided I haven't signed that right away somehow (ie. an NDA).

Ignoring all the legal technicalities, should it be illegal? Somebody used their credentials to share confidential information they were sworn to secrecy on, that's clearly illegal. Should it be illegal, though, for a journalist to publish a story based on knowledge learned from someone who's done something illegal? Slippery slope, there.

Why are we even arguing about the legalities of what's been, or being, done in publication, though? Doesn't anybody care that innocent people are being sodomized, tortured, and murdered in their name and on their dollar? Doesn't anybody care that the US government worked with the Chinese to quash the Copenhagen accord? Doesn't anybody care that they're being lied to, stolen from, and abused by the very people they elected?

To get elected, Obama had speeches preaching transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in government. Shouldn't a transparent government own up to the facts learned and do damage control to provide context rather than focusing on misdirection and slander? Politicians seem to think that they know what's best for us more than we do. Really though, it's the people that make the country, not the politicians. It's the people who know best what's best for them as individuals, and the only way they can make appropriate decisions is if they have all the information. It's just like the business world and the invisible hand theory of economics. Ultimately, people will decide to do what they feel is best for them, and the only way to "get it right" is to have all the information.

Speaking of laws and legalities...is nobody else questioning the legalities of the situations described in these cables? Hilary ordering espionage on the entire UN? Knowledge of Ugandan war crimes with no intervention? Abuse, torture, physical and pharmacological waterboarding... Quick question - who's worse, a man who writes a story and publishes documents or one who sodomizes and waterboards an innocent to force him to confess to a crime he didn't commit and thus convicts him without a real trial, or the man who knows about the above and is responsible for the department and does nothing? Why are our priorities on the journalist, again?
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:20 pm

The provisions regarding the communication, delivery, transmission, and retention of the material were designed specifically for those in unauthorized possession of the material (like Wikileaks), rather than those who lawfully possess it (usually the person leaking it to the press), who have other provisions that apply (with many of the same prohibitions). As the law stands, if you receive an envelope that has confidential information in it, you're prohibited from communicating it and are obligated to deliver it to the appropriate federal authorities.

I also think it's pretty specious to say he's just a journalist doing what journalists are supposed to do. Remember when he disseminated detailed technical vulnerabilities in military countermeasures used against roadside bombs? Who did that help? The military was already trying to find better countermeasures. That's the whole reason the leaked report was made. The only people who benefited from knowing the exact weak spots of those countermeasures are the people making the bombs. Remember when he disseminated names of Afghans who had assisted U.S. forces? The Taliban thanked him for the names and promised to execute them. Who benefited from that? How likely is it that Afghans are going to assist our forces if they know their identity will be made public? How likely is it that anyone will be an informant, a whistleblower, or will deliver confidential information to the government, now? Remember when he disseminated a list of sites critical to national security? Who did that help?

Anyone who thinks that Wikileaks is promoting transparency is delusional. If anything, information will be more restricted, not to mention fewer assessments and reports reduced to writing and even those that are will be far from the candid or comprehensive assessments that currently exist.

Which, of course, ignores the entire debate over how much transparency should exist, where you and I plainly disagree. I think there should be more transparency, yes. But do I think we all should have access to everything? Not a chance. There are sound reasons certain information is classified and it isn't just to make us all mindless sheep and it isn't because the government just likes keeping secrets. Full-disclosure threatens our safety and security and it threatens our diplomatic efforts. Why should we make our vulnerabilities public knowledge? Let's give our enemies a hit-list of critical sites and a how-to book on our countermeasures. And good luck getting any kind of honesty in diplomatic relations if everything is made public. Am I going to talk candidly or am I going to politically posture if I know my remarks are going to be public? Go ahead and try getting something accomplished when all involved parties are reduced to nothing but posturing.

There's a difference between whistleblowing when there's something shady going on and information-dumping for the sake of information-dumping. And you can certainly wish for more transparency, and even abhor some of the actions kept secret, while still thinking the acts were illegal and threaten national security.
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Postby Confessions » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:29 pm

There's a difference between whistleblowing when there's something shady going on and information-dumping for the sake of information-dumping.
Something shady going down, like...

- CIA agents detained a German citizen, brought him to Afghanistan where he was tortured, sodomized, and injected with drugs. After months of this, once they were convinced they had the wrong man (same name, different person), they brought him to Albania and dropped him on a desolate road at night time, with nary an apology or funds to get home.

For instance?

- The UK had been allowing the US to store cluster bombs, which were illegal

For instance?

- Hilary Clinton signed an order instructing diplomats to spy on UN representatives, requesting all information including credit card numbers, frequent flier accounts, etc.

For instance?

There's a difference between supporting the need for keeping certain sensitive information private for the purposes of promoting the national welfare and being an obvious nationalist shill. Which you are.
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