Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa's On Break...

And so are we. Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Richard Branson on British Education v Entrepreneurship

From the Guardian (UK) Wikileaks website:
10. (C) Brown's party included 30 high-ranking business people, as well as 250-300 other representatives from British businesses, who met with Chinese counterparts. Approximately 30 Chinese and British entrepreneurs, including British billionaire Richard Branson met at a lunch devoted to "What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?" The Chinese participants criticized British entrepreneurs as being "overeducated, too conservative, lacking passion for entrepreneurship and too afraid of failure." Branson agreed that British entrepreneurs are overeducated and that schooling does not prepare one for entering the business world. The Chinese also criticized their own system as inadequate to prepare people for entrepreneurship.

With apologies to Nina Totenberg...


Sunday, December 19, 2010

The King's Speech: G'day Bertie!

The theatre showing The King's Speech was packed for the 3:00 Saturday matinee in Bethesda, MD yesterday. Sold out. The crowd resembled the one at the Bob Dylan concert I attended a month ago. The film starred the Masterpiece Theatre stock company:  Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, and Helena Bonham-Carter. The plot was a cross between The Queen, My Fair Lady, and Young Victoria. I had been told to see the film for the first time in an email from my UCLA Film/TV film structure professor, Dr. Howard Suber. Then, I read the rave reviews in the local press here in DC. So, it was a "must-see."

My verdict. It's OK. Not a great story, not a great script, nice production values, good acting--in sum: thoroughly enjoyable Anglophile porn. Now that Masterpiece Theatre has become hit-or-miss, and the rest of the movie industry makes super-big-screen video games, this is the best we can hope for. Solid Christmas entertainment, with emotional uplift, and ex-colonial solidarity.

Rupert Murdoch must have enjoyed watching this picture, since the moral seems to be that a despised Aussie speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush saved the British throne from Hitler...

Friday, December 17, 2010

WSJ: America's Economy, Dickens Would Love It...

Today's Op-Ed by Alan Blinder hits the mark, IMHO:
So here we are today, with a large structural deficit slated to increase further. Until the recent agreement on $858 billion of new tax cuts, the whiff of fiscal responsibility was in the air. The Bowles-Simpson deficit- reduction proposal garnered the most attention. It asked Americans to eat a lot of spinach, which was probably inevitable. But a number of critics have pointed out that the plan as a whole looks a bit regressive. Since so much of the deficit (though not all of it) stems from the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, does that strike you as fair?

Well, fairness is in the eye of the beholder. But here's a stunning coincidence. The entire Bowles-Simpson plan would reduce federal borrowing by $3.9 trillion over 10 years, including interest savings. That's a lot of money. In fact, it's almost enough to cover the cost of extending all the Bush tax cuts for 10 years.

So here's a choice: We can achieve nearly $4 trillion in budgetary savings by accepting everything on the Bowles-Simpson list—spinach, broccoli and all. Or we can get a bit more than $4 trillion simply by letting all the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. Of course, ending those tax cuts would mean returning to the tax rates of the Clinton years—when, as I'm sure you recall, high tax rates killed incentives and left our economy dead in the water.

Pick your poison. And, by the way, Merry Christmas.

Oooops...CIA Pakistan Station Chief Held Business, Not Diplomatic, Visa

As a result, according to this story in the Guardian (UK), he fled the country after a lawsuit had been filed against him for wrongful deaths in drone attacks:
The CIA has pulled its station chief from Islamabad, one of America's most important spy posts, after his cover was blown in a legal action brought by victims of US drone strikes in the tribal belt.

The officer, named in Pakistan as Jonathan Banks, left the country yesterday, after a tribesman publicly accused him of being responsible for the death of his brother and son in a CIA drone strike in December 2009. Karim Khan, a journalist from North Waziristan, called for Banks to be charged with murder and executed.

In a rare move, the CIA called Banks home yesterday, citing "security concerns" and saying he had received death threats, Washington officials told Associated Press. Khan's lawyer said he was fleeing the possibility of prosecution.

"This is just diplomatic language they are using. Banks is a liability to the CIA because he's likely to be called to court. They want to save him, and themselves, the embarrassment," said lawyer Shahzad Akbar. Pakistani media reports have claimed that Banks entered the country on a business visa, and therefore does not enjoy diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

The recall comes at a sensitive moment for Washington. This week's Afghanistan policy review brought fresh focus on Taliban safe havens in Pakistan's tribal belt. Meanwhile CIA drone attacks – which are co-ordinated from the Islamabad embassy – have reached a new peak. Three drones struck targets in Khyber, a previously untouched tribal agency, on Friday, reportedly killing 24 people and signalling a widening of the CIA covert campaign.
IMHO, Heck of a way to "win hearts and minds."

Julian Assange Talks to British TV Newsnight

Tax Deal=Business As Usual

I'm not an economist, but I'm not too ecstatic about the recent tax deal. To me, it signals a mistaken worldview. I fear that it is going to increase the deficit without stimulating the economy. I don't know why Obama would violate his own campaign promise to tax the rich, it does seem like a Bush 41 "Read my lips" betrayal, and if I were a liberal Democrat, I'd begin mounting my challenge to Obama. Yes, it would help the Republicans, but so do tax giveways to your political opponents. Now, Obama will start off the new session on the wrong foot, having alienated his political base. I don't get it, myself.

Plus, it seems to my non-economist mind that extension of unemployement benefits is not the best foundation for growth. Talk about the return of the "welfare state."

I don't like the way this deal was done, and don't like the result.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong, and that a year from now unemployment is below 10 percent--but I don't see any way this could lead to that.

The US is suffering because we are losing two wars--one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. The evidence is that both countries sided with China in the recent Nobel Peace Prize controversy, boycotting the presentation to Liu Xiaobo. If we had won those wars, they'd be on our side rather than China's, IMHO.

Economic decline is a symptom of political and military decline. Only military victory could reverse that--but it would require a reorientation of American policy away from "Great Game" to "Clash of Civilizations" mode, full partnership with Russia and China, confrontation with Muslim extremism, and crash re-industrialization of the American economy.

Easier for Congress and the White House to take the drugs of tax-cuts and unemployment insurance instead, apparently hoping it might work...for the short-term.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jack Goldsmith: Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks

Ralph Nader quoted from this webpage in his congressional testimony a few minutes ago, so thanks to the internet and google (until they shut that down), here's the source material from his LAWFARE blog:
Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks
by Jack Goldsmith

1. I find myself agreeing with those who think Assange is being unduly vilified. I certainly do not support or like his disclosure of secrets that harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated. It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch. The Executive was unconscionably lax in allowing Bradley Manning to have access to all these secrets and to exfiltrate them so easily.

2. I do not understand why so much ire is directed at Assange and so little at the New York Times. What if there were no wikileaks and Manning had simply given the Lady Gaga CD to the Times? Presumably the Times would eventually have published most of the same information, with a few redactions, for all the world to see. Would our reaction to that have been more subdued than our reaction now to Assange? If so, why? If not, why is our reaction so subdued when the Times receives and publishes the information from Bradley through Assange the intermediary? Finally, in 2005-2006, the Times disclosed information about important but fragile government surveillance programs. There is no way to know, but I would bet that these disclosures were more harmful to national security than the wikileaks disclosures. There was outcry over the Times’ surveillance disclosures, but nothing compared to the outcry over wikileaks. Why the difference? Because of quantity? Because Assange is not a U.S. citizen? Because he has a philosophy more menacing than “freedom of the press”? Because he is not a journalist? Because he has a bad motive?

3. In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing toward wikileaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.

4. Whatever one thinks of what Assange is doing, the flailing U.S. government reaction has been self-defeating. It cannot stop the publication of the documents that have already leaked out, and it should stop trying, for doing so makes the United States look very weak and gives the documents a greater significance than they deserve. It is also weak and pointless to prevent U.S. officials from viewing the wikileaks documents that the rest of the world can easily see. Also, I think trying to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act would be a mistake. The prosecution could fail for any number of reasons (no legal violation, extradition impossible, First Amendment). Trying but failing to put Assange in jail is worse than not trying at all. And succeeding will harm First Amendment press protections, make a martyr of Assange, and invite further chaotic Internet attacks. The best thing to do – I realize that this is politically impossible – would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again.

5. As others have pointed out, the U.S. government reaction to wikileaks is more than a little awkward for the State Department’s Internet Freedom initiative. The contradictions of the initiative were apparent in the speech that announced it, where Secretary Clinton complained about cyberattacks seven paragraphs before she boasted of her support for hacktivism. I doubt the State Department is very keen about freedom of Internet speech or Internet hacktivism right now.

6. Tim Wu and I wrote a book called Who Controls The Internet? One thesis of the book was that states could exercise pretty good control over unwanted Internet communications and transactions from abroad by regulating the intermediaries that make the communications and transactions possible – e.g. backbone operators, ISPs, search engines, financial intermediaries (e.g. mastercard), and the like. The book identified one area where such intermediary regulation did not work terribly well: Cross-border cybercrime. An exception we did not discuss is the exposure of secrets. Once information is on the web, it is practically impossible to stop it from being copied and distributed. The current strategy of pressuring intermediaries (paypal, mastercard, amazon, various domain name services, etc.) to stop doing business with wikileaks will have a marginal effect on its ability to raise money and store information. But the information already in its possession has been encrypted and widely distributed, and once it is revealed it is practically impossible to stop it from being circulated globally. The United States could in theory take harsh steps to stop its circulation domestically – it could, for example, punish the New York Times and order ISPs and search engines to filter out a continuously updated list of identified wikileaks sites. But what would be the point of that? (Tim and I also did not anticipate that state attempts to pressure intermediaries would be met by distributed denial-of-service attacks on those intermediaries.)

7. The wikileaks saga gives the lie to the claim of United States omnipotence over the naming and numbering system via ICANN. Even assuming the United States could order ICANN (through its contractual arrangements and de facto control) to shut down all wikileaks sites (something that is far from obvious), ICANN could not follow through because its main leverage over unwanted wikileaks websites is its threat to de-list top-level domain names where the wikileaks sites appear. It is doubtful that ICANN could make that threat credibly for many reasons, including (a) the sites are shifting across top-level domains too quickly, (b) ICANN is not going to shut down a top-level domain to get at a handful of sites, and (c) alternative and perhaps root-splitting DNS alternatives might arise if it did.

Charles Glass: Prosecute Those Who Call for Attacks on Assange

Writing in TAKI Magazine, Charles Glass calls for the indictment of Sarah Palin and Bob Beckel, among others, for incitement to commit murder (ht Frontline Club):
What those who demand a man’s murder are doing, however, is not merely stating facts or lies, opinions or observations. In voicing what the philosopher J. L. Austin called “performative utterances,” they are acting. These are not statements that can be true or false; they are “speech acts.” When a military officer orders his men to go into action, he is not exercising free speech so much as he’s issuing a command. Moreover, he is held responsible under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions for his orders. When Ayatollah Khomeini issued the death sentence on Salman Rushdie, he was not giving an idle opinion but instructing those who accepted his proclamations to take action. When Al Capone told one of his heavies to rub somebody out, that heavy had to do some quick rubbing or be rubbed out himself. If someone comes to your house with a firing squad and declares, “Ready, aim, fire,” the First Amendment would be no defense in court against a murder charge.

The idea that incitement to murder is permissible free speech was expressly condemned by, of all agencies, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in July 2003. It shut down the Al Mustaqila newspaper for urging death to “spies and those who cooperate with the U.S.” One of the State Department members of the C.P.A. at the time was Bill Stewart, who is now the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. (We may read via some future leak what he said to the Swedes regarding their prosecution of Julian Assange for ostensible crimes against two women who chose to go to bed with him.)

Some people may believe Sarah Palin and Fox News’ “experts” as much as some Muslims believed Khomeini. If anyone had murdered Rushdie (and a few tried), Khomeini could not deny responsibility. The United States Supreme Court has recognized the fact that speech is sometimes an action in itself. In Virginia v. Black et al., Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the majority opinion:

We have consequently held that fighting words – “those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction” – are generally proscribable under the First Amendment….And the First Amendment also permits a State to ban a “true threat.”

Therefore, I call upon prosecutors in the states where public figures have demanded Julian Assange’s assassination to investigate whether these incitements to murder may be prosecuted. This is my performative utterance, and I hope the Attorneys General will act on it before some idiot with a deer rifle takes it into his head to follow the recommendations of Palin, Flanagan, Beckel, et al.

Arianna Huffington on Wikileaks

From today's Huffington Post:
I see four main aspects to the story. The first important aspect of the revelations is... the revelations.

Too much of the coverage has been meta -- focusing on questions about whether the leaks were justified, while too little has dealt with the details of what has actually been revealed and what those revelations say about the wisdom of our ongoing effort in Afghanistan. There's a reason why the administration is so upset about these leaks.

True, there hasn't been one smoking-gun, bombshell revelation -- but that's certainly not to say the cables haven't been revealing. What there has been instead is more of the consistent drip, drip, drip of damning details we keep getting about the war. Details that belie the upbeat talk the administration wants us to believe. The effect is cumulative -- not unlike mercury poisoning.

It's notable that the latest leaks came out the same week President Obama went to Afghanistan for his surprise visit to the troops -- and made a speech about how we are "succeeding" and "making important progress" and bound to "prevail."

The WikiLeaks cables present quite a different picture. What emerges is one reality (the real one) colliding with another (the official one). We see smart, good-faith diplomats and foreign service personnel trying to make the truth on the ground match up to the one the administration has proclaimed to the public. The cables show the widening disconnect. It's like a foreign policy Ponzi scheme -- this one fueled not by the public's money, but the public's acquiescence.

The cables show that the administration has been cooking the books. And what's scandalous is not the actions of the diplomats doing their best to minimize the damage from our policies, but the policies themselves. Of course, we've known about them, but the cables provide another opportunity to see the truth behind the spin -- so it's no wonder the administration has reacted so hysterically to them.

The second aspect of the story -- the one that was the focus of the symposium -- is the changing relationship to government that technology has made possible.

Back in the year 2007, B.W. (Before WikiLeaks), the president waxed lyrical about government and the internet: "We have to use technology to open up our democracy. It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in our history has favored special interest and pursued policy that could not stand up to the sunlight."

At that moment he was, of course, busy building an internet framework that would play an important part in his becoming the head of the next administration. Not long after the election, in announcing his "Transparency and Open Government" policy, the president proclaimed: "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset."

Cut to a few years later. Now that he's defending a reality that doesn't match up to, well, reality, he's suddenly not so keen on the people having a chance to access this "national asset."

Even more wikironic are the statements by his Secretary of State who, less than a year ago, was lecturing other nations about the value of an unfettered and free internet. Given her description of the WikiLeaks as "an attack on America's foreign policy interests" that have put in danger "innocent people," her comments take on a whole different light. Some highlights:

In authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable... technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights... As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are targeting independent thinkers who use these tools.

Now "making government accountable" is, as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs put it, a "reckless and dangerous action."

And the government isn't stopping at shameless demagoguery, hypocrisy, and fear-mongering -- it's putting its words into action. According to The Hill, this week the House Judiciary Committee will conduct open hearings into whether WikiLeaks has somehow violated the Espionage Act of 1917.

What's more, ABC News reports that Assange's lawyers are hearing that U.S. indictments could be forthcoming: "The American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that are, I believe, arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature. I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable... as they should be."

For the Obama administration, it appears that accountability is a one-way street. When he had the chance to bring the principle of accountability to our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and investigate how we got into them, the president passed. As John Perry Barlow tweeted, "We have reached a point in our history where lies are protected speech and the truth is criminal."

Any process of real accountability, would, of course, also include the key role the press played in bringing us the war in Iraq. Jay Rosen, one of the participants in the symposium, wrote a brilliant essay entitled "From Judith Miller to Julian Assange." He writes:

For the portion of the American press that still looks to Watergate and the Pentagon Papers for inspiration, and that considers itself a check on state power, the hour of its greatest humiliation can, I think, be located with some precision: it happened on Sunday, September 8, 2002.

That was when the New York Times published Judith Miller and Michael Gordon's breathless, spoon-fed -- and ultimately inaccurate -- account of Iraqi attempts to buy aluminum tubes to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb.

Miller's after-the-facts-proved-wrong response, as quoted in a Michael Massing piece in the New York Review of Books, was: "My job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal."

In other words, her job is to tell citizens what their government is saying, not, as Obama called for in his transparency initiative, what their government is doing. As Jay Rosen put it:

Today it is recognized at the Times and in the journalism world that Judy Miller was a bad actor who did a lot of damage and had to go. But it has never been recognized that secrecy was itself a bad actor in the events that led to the collapse, that it did a lot of damage, and parts of it might have to go. Our press has never come to terms with the ways in which it got itself on the wrong side of secrecy as the national security state swelled in size after September 11th.

And in the WikiLeaks case, much of media has again found itself on the wrong side of secrecy -- and so much of the reporting about WikiLeaks has served to obscure, to conflate, to mislead.

For instance, how many stories have you heard or read about all the cables being "dumped" in "indiscriminate" ways with no attempt to "vet" and "redact" the stories first. In truth, only just over 1,200 of the 250,000 cables have been released, and WikiLeaks is now publishing only those cables vetted and redacted by their media partners, which includes the New York Times here and the Guardian in England.

The establishment media may be part of the media, but they're also part of the establishment. And they're circling the wagons. One method they're using, as Andrew Rasiej put it after the symposium, is to conflate the secrecy that governments use to operate and the secrecy that is used to hide the truth and allow governments to mislead us.

Nobody, including WikiLeaks, is promoting the idea that government should exist in total transparency, or that, for instance, all government meetings should be live-streamed and cameras placed around the White House like a DC-based spin-off of Big Brother.

Assange himself would not disagree. "Secrecy is important for many things," he told Time's Richard Stengel. "We keep secret the identity of our sources, as an example, take great pains to do it." At the same time, however, secrecy "shouldn't be used to cover up abuses."

But the government's legitimate need for secrecy is very different from the government's desire to get away with hiding the truth. Conflating the two is dangerously unhealthy for a democracy. And this is why it's especially important to look at what WikiLeaks is actually doing, as distinct from what its critics claim it's doing.

And this is why it's also important to look at the fact that even though the cables are being published in mainstream outlets like the Times, the information first went to WikiLeaks. "You've heard of voting with your feet?" Rosen said during the symposium. "The sources are voting with their leaks. If they trusted the newspapers more, they would be going to the newspapers."

Our democracy's need for accountability transcends left and right divisions. Over at American Conservative magazine, Jack Hunter penned "The Conservative Case for WikiLeaks," writing:

Decentralizing government power, limiting it, and challenging it was the Founders' intent and these have always been core conservative principles. Conservatives should prefer an explosion of whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks to a federal government powerful enough to take them down. Government officials who now attack WikiLeaks don't fear national endangerment, they fear personal embarrassment. And while scores of conservatives have long promised to undermine or challenge the current monstrosity in Washington, D.C., it is now an organization not recognizably conservative that best undermines the political establishment and challenges its very foundations.

It is not, as Simon Jenkins put it in the Guardian, the job of the media to protect the powerful from embarrassment. As I said at the symposium, its job is to play the role of the little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes -- brave enough to point out what nobody else is willing to say.

When the press trades truth for access, it is WikiLeaks that acts like the little boy. "Power," wrote Jenkins, "loathes truth revealed. When the public interest is undermined by the lies and paranoia of power, it is disclosure that takes sanity by the scruff of its neck and sets it back on its feet."

A final aspect of the story is Julian Assange himself. Is he a visionary? Is he an anarchist? Is he a jerk? This is fun speculation, but why does it have an impact on the value of the WikiLeaks revelations?

Of course, it's not terribly surprising that those who are made uncomfortable by the discrepancy between what the leaked cables show and what our government claims would rather make this all about the psychological makeup of Assange. But doing so is a virtual admission that they have nothing tangible with which to counter the reality exposed by WikiLeaks.

Maybe Assange "often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions," writes Slate's Jack Shafer. "But if you want to dismiss him just because he's a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I'd like you to meet."

Whether Assange is a world-class jerk or not, this is bigger than Assange -- and will continue whether or not he continues to be a central player in it. In fact, there is already an offshoot site soon to be launched, called Openleaks, which will be run by veterans of WikiLeaks.

And I doubt this will be the only offshoot. So as interesting as the Assange saga is, and I'm sure there will be books and movies recounting Assange's personal tale, this is not about one man. Nor is it about one site, though the precedent of allowing the government to shut it down is very important.

It is about our future. For our democracy to survive, citizens have to be able to know what our government is really doing. We can't change course if we don't have accurate information about where we really are. Whether this comes from a website or a newspaper or both doesn't matter.

But if our government is successful in its efforts to shut down this new avenue of accountability, it will have done our country far more damage than what it claims is being done by WikiLeaks.

House Holds Wikileaks Hearing Today

Live streaming video online now.
Hearing Information

Hearing on: Hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks
Thursday 12/16/2010 - 9:30 a.m. 12:00 p.m.10:00 a.m.

2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Full Committee

By Direction of the Chairman

Hearing Documentation

Related News
No related news available

Witness List

Abbe D. Lowell
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Washington, DC

Kenneth L. Wainstein
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Washington, DC

Geoffrey R. Stone
Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor and Former Dean
University of Chicago Law School
Chicago, IL

Gabriel Schoenfeld, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Hudson Institute
New York, NY

Thomas S. Blanton
National Security Archive at George Washington University
Washington, DC

Stephen I. Vladeck
Professor of Law
American University Washington College of Law
Washington, DC

Ralph Nader
Legal Advocate and Author
Washington, DC
CSPAN streaming video on CSPAN 3.

Ann Coulter on Wikileaks

If Assange had unauthorized possession of any national defense document that he had reason to believe could be used to injure the United States, and he willfully communicated that to any person not entitled to receive it, Assange committed a felony, and it wouldn't matter if he were Lois Lane, my favorite reporter.

As I have noted previously, the only part of the criminal law that doesn't apply to reporters is the death penalty, at least since 2002, when the Supreme Court decided in Atkins v. Virginia that it's "cruel and unusual punishment" to execute the retarded.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if? - Los Angeles Times

Wikileaks - WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if? - Los Angeles Times (ht Michael Moore, Huffington Post)

German Foundation Defends Assange

It's called the Wau Holland Foundation. Its website is here...
Re: Inquiries on Wikileaks

We kindly ask you to understand that we cannot and will not answer questions regarding Wikileaks or people connected with Wikileaks. Please contact Wikileaks directly — find the contact address on the Wikileaks pages (e.g..
As a tax deductible foundation in Germany we handle and transfer donations to Wikileaks according to our by-law and German law. You are however welcome to contact us should you have questions on the Wau Holland Foundation itself.

Posh London Clubman Defends Julian Assange

He's Vaughan Smith, founder of London's Frontline Club, and he's posted his manifesto on the club website:
Statement by Vaughan Smith re: Julian Assange

Dear friends of Frontline, many of you will have seen Julian Assange and the Wikileaks people at Frontline. I wanted to copy you the press release that I sent out today. Very best, Vaughan

“I attended court today to offer my support for Julian Assange of Wikileaks on a point of principle.

“In the face of a concerted attempt to shut him down and after a decade since 9/11 that has been characterised by manipulation of the media by the authorities, the information released by Wikileaks is a refreshing glimpse into an increasingly opaque world.”

The Frontline Club was founded seven years ago to stand for independence and transparency.

Recent informal canvassing of many of our more than 1,500 members at the Frontline Club suggests almost all are supportive of our position.

I am suspicious of the personal charges that have been made against Mr Assange and hope that this will be properly resolved by the courts. Certainly no credible charges have been brought regarding the leaking of the information itself.

I can confirm that Mr Assange has spent much of the last several months working from our facilities at the Frontline Club. Earlier today I offered him an address for bail.

7pm. Tuesday 7 December. ---

Vaughan Smith
More on the club's charitable trust and its mission, from the website:
About the Trust

Since registering with the Charity Commission in 2006, the Trust has vigorously worked to promote freedom of expression and excellence in journalism both in the UK and overseas.

In London, the Trust runs a busy programme of events programme including talks and screening that cover a wide variety of topics and issues. The Trust organises over 200 events a year.

Overseeing the work of the FCCT is the Board of Trustees, consisting of distinguished media professionals and members of the NGO sector. Currently the board includes John Owen and Keith Coleman.

The Trust is funded by the business operations of the Frontline Club, including the restaurant and the membership. This income helps cover most of the costs from our events programme but external funding is also used to support individual strands and seasons. Supporters include the Open Society Foundation, BBC World Service Trust, Potter Foundation, Chivas Regals, Canon etc.
Smith's Wikipedia entry here.

Asia Times Online : Turkemenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Oil-gas Pipeline a "New Silk Road"

Asia Times Online explains the geopolitical significance of the new Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Oil-gas pipeline:
Any project that makes Pakistan a stakeholder in regional security and stability would interest India. To quote Deora, TAPI is the "new Silk Route between Central Asia and South Asia" and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described it as a "peace pipeline" in the region.

Again, TAPI signifies a step forward for the Indian quest for access to Afghanistan and Central Asia via Pakistan. India will factor in that TAPI forms part of the US regional policy focusing on the stabilization of Afghanistan, and the realization of the project may incrementally persuade Pakistan to do course correction on its support to militant groups. The project certainly offers India useful avenues of bilateral interaction with Pakistan, which can lead to bigger dialogue processes.

Indeed, the doomsday predictions are that the security situation in Afghanistan does not give any scope for the realization of the pipeline. But this is also a chicken-and-egg situation. TAPI can as well be viewed as the missing link that fosters an India-Pakistan consensus over settlement in Afghanistan. But then, in order to grasp the complicated thought, we must also take note of other subtle shades in the big picture.

India-Pakistan back channels on Kashmir are being quietly revived under US watch, and with Pakistan holding off from stirring up the uprising in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, calm has been restored. The Indian interior minister has been emboldened to speak about a "Kashmir solution" in the coming few months. There is talk in the air about the next round of talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers.

In sum, Berdymukhamedov is leading TAPI into the limelight against the backdrop of new stirrings. Who says he isn't a "very bright guy"? The calendar for the pipeline's completion coincides exactly with the 2014 timeline for the end of the US combat mission in Afghanistan.
IMHO, I hope it works out better than the Mosul-Haifa pipeline from Iraq to Israel's port on the Mediterranean did...

More Better Late Than Never...

Columbia j-school staff: WikiLeaks prosecution ‘will set a dangerous precedent’ | Poynter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charles Crawford on Richard Holbrooke

The former British ambassador remembers his American counterpart in the Balkans on his blogoir,
Dick Holbrooke's sudden death is a blow to American diplomacy. His cleverness, his relentlessness, his raw humour, his skilled psychological pressure-plays and sheer bravura all combined with a sense of boldly wielding power to make him a uniquely formidable force.

I have written about my own meetings with on various occasions. See eg here, one of my earliest postings, describing how the Americans flick'd EU diplomacy off the table like an undernourished crumb.

And this one, describing his finely calculated patronising sexism aimed at a top British woman diplomat, and how his own US colleagues were twitching with nerves lest he chewed them out.

Then there was his outlandish attempt to blame anyone other than the Guilty Man for the NATO failure to arrest Radovan Karadzic straight after Dayton back in 1996.

Dick Holbrooke therefore was in a diplomatic category all of his own, leaving a trail of vivid Holbrooke stories in his wake as he pushed tirelessly to get results. But he did get results, where many others had failed.

How do those results stand the test of time?

One example.

In 1995 Pauline Neville-Jones and I sat in the US Ambassador's Residence after dinner in Moscow after the final Contact Group meeting before Dayton, talking about how best to build Bosnia after the war and in particular how to foster some sort of shared national identity.

Pauline produced an English pound coin, to show that money could be used for different symbolic purposes, having a national motif on one side and different regional/ethnic symbols on the other.

Holbrooke rudely brushed that idea aside as a typical example of convoluted, too clever European pointy-headed thinking: "They're going to have normal money like the US dollar, and that's it!"

He was wrong. Failure to think creatively before, at and after Dayton about issues like this led to new stalemates and frustrations, with the result today that Bosnia is one of the worst-governed countries on the planet and a dismal return on huge amounts of foreign support.

On the other hand, it's not at war. It has a chance. Bosnia in a decade has achieved far more than eg Cyprus or Israel/Palestine in terms of property returns and re-establishment of some sort of normal life.

Holbrooke's style in the Balkans was all about pushing hard, not to get a perfect outcome but at least to shift things along in a broadly better direction when all else seemed stuck.

That's one of the hardest tasks in diplomacy as in life - to be good at judging when to keep pushing and when to cut a deal. Not letting the Best be the enemy of the Good, or even of the Somewhat Better.

Hence also this recollection of a senior meeting in London about Bosnia in Spring 1996 when the Americans were simply better and firmer and bolder - in short, more convincing than the Brits and assorted Europeans.

Did Holbrooke then 'cut a deal' with Karadzic to get him to withdraw from public life? I suspect something of the sort. But we'll never know what if anything Holbrooke promised, or offered. Maybe he simply left Karadzic with some strong impressions of positive and negative incentives, which in the circumstances were good enough to drive him slowly but surely far away from the Bosnian daily scene.

Richard Holbrooke's legacy is therefore mixed. He was in the true sense of the word an extraordinary man, who accomplished extraordinary things in diplomacy by whatever means it took to do them.

He'll be missed. And, more importantly, not easily replaced.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tashkent Gets WikiLeaked...

Finally, a few cables from the US Embassy in Uzbekisatan
have been released, here Tashkent Gets WikiLeaked: Gulnara is "Most Hated Person in the Country" |

To me, there is nothing in them that looks secret...I don't know why the Guardian xxxxx-ed out the name of the alleged head of the Uzbek mafia--unless he's a British agent. Just type "head of Uzbek mafia" into google and the name will appear.

IMHO, Jon Purnell shows little insight as ambassador, recycling the conventional US wisdom from questionable sources in addition to office gossip. I'm pretty sure George W. Bush was more "hated" in Uzbekistan than Gulnara, perhaps that's why the US ambassador didn't cite polling data in his leaked cable.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Better Late Than Never...

The Washington Post's editorial on Wikileaks:
Don't charge Wikileaks

WIKILEAKS FOUNDER Julian Assange has irresponsibly released thousands of sensitive national security documents, including some that Pentagon officials say could put in harm's way Afghans who have cooperated with U.S. efforts. But that does not mean he has committed a crime.

Mr. Assange, an Australian, is in a British jail awaiting possible extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations. Many Americans would like to see him spend a good, long time behind bars - for different reasons. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argues that Mr. Assange's actions violate the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law crafted to punish individuals who spy on the country during wartime. The Justice Department is reportedly assessing that possibility as well as other prosecutorial vehicles.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) goes further and has urged the administration to consider charges against media outlets that produced news articles based on the leaked documents. These organizations, Mr. Lieberman said in an interview with Fox News last week , have "committed at least an act of bad citizenship, but whether they have committed a crime - I think that bears a very intense inquiry by the Justice Department."

Such prosecutions are a bad idea. The government has no business indicting someone who is not a spy and who is not legally bound to keep its secrets. Doing so would criminalize the exchange of information and put at risk responsible media organizations that vet and verify material and take seriously the protection of sources and methods when lives or national security are endangered. The Espionage Act is easily abused, as shown by a criminal case that dragged on for years, before being closed last year, of two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who did nothing more than pass along to colleagues and a reporter information they gleaned from conversations with U.S. officials. The act should be scrapped or tightened, not given new and dangerous life.

So is the administration helpless? No; it has every right to demand strict confidentiality from its employees and others who swear to protect its secrets. It has rightly filed charges against an Army intelligence specialist who it believes was the source of the leaked documents. And the government should repair its own house, by investigating its carelessness in allowing these documents to leak and taking steps to prevent a recurrence.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glenn Greenwald on America's Fascist "Journalists"

At Time Magazine, and elsewhere, covering Wikileaks--in
Despite all that, it is impossible to conceive of any establishment media outlet in the U.S. uttering a peep of support for what those protesters did. The immediate consensus in the American political and media class was that these activists were engaged in pure, unmitigated destruction -- even evil -- and should be severely punished. That's because the greatest sin in our political culture is doing anything other than meekly submitting even to assertions of lawless and thuggish government and corporate power. If the Government and the largest corporations collaborate to lawlessly destroy WikiLeaks for the crime of engaging in threatening journalism, then you simply write polite letters to Congress or complain on your blog; what you don't do under any circumstances is resist or fight back using even symbolic gestures of disobedience. That's the authoritarian mentality pervading -- defining -- not only the establishment media but (as a result) much of the citizenry.

Just contrast the angry denunciations over these activists' simplistic, relatively innocuous denial of service attacks, with the apathy toward (or even support for) the far more sophisticated and damaging "cyber attacks" launched at WikiLeaks, which resulted in their permanent removal from any recognizable URL (and now can only be found through some impossible-to-remember numerical address). Whoever was responsible for those attacks aimed at WikiLeaks -- even if it were a government agency -- is acting every bit as lawlessly as the adolescent (though well-intentioned) activists responsible for shutting down MasterCard's website for a few hours. But it is only the latter transgressions that trigger any real anger.

Identically, note how few object to the fact that the DOJ is investigating the pro-WikiLeaks attacks, but not -- of course -- the ones directed at WikiLeaks. That's because we collectively believe -- with the establishment media leading the way -- that the most powerful authorities have the unfettered right to do whatever they want to anyone who is sufficiently demonized as Bad, while the worst sin is to do anything outside of approved (i.e., impotent) means to protest establishment power and authority, no matter how destructive and criminal the ends are to which that power and authority is being applied.

This is the same mentality that expresses such self-righteous outrage over the mere prospect that disclosures of the truth by WikiLeaks might hypothetically one day lead to the death of a single innocent person, while barely uttering any real anger over the massive numbers of innocents actually being killed right now by the U.S. Government. And it's the same mentality that purports to acknowledge the massive secrecy abuses, deceit and pervasive crimes of the U.S. Government, while demanding that one of the very few people who apparently risked something to do anything meaningful to stop all of that -- Bradley Manning -- be severely punished, or that Julian Assange be punished. This is authoritarianism in its classic form -- an instinctively servile loyalty to power even when it is acting corruptly, lawlessly and destructively -- and it finds its purest and most vigorous expression in those who most loudly claim devotion to checking it: our intrepid adversarial journalists.

UPDATE: For a slightly different but related service the establishment media dutifully provides to the Government, see this excellent Marcy Wheeler post from today, entitled: "Hatfill and Wen Ho Lee and Plame and al-Awlaki and Assange."

UPDATE II: CNN today spewed pure, absurd fear-mongering against WikiLeaks; Assange really is their new Saddam Hussein and WikiLeaks their new WMD. And just to underscore the contrast between how media outlets around the world behave, the French newspaper Liberation -- a mainstream center-left publication -- announced today that it was creating a "mirror-WikiLeaks" site and hosting it on their paper's website (its mirror site is here). It is even possible to conceive of a mainstream American newspaper doing that?

FBI Delays NAS Anthrax Report

Justice delayed is justice denied, indeed. Here's an excerpt from Scott Shane's NY Times story:
WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested a last-minute delay in the release of a report on the bureau’s anthrax investigation by the National Academy of Sciences, prompting a congressman to say that the bureau “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure” the academy’s scientific panel “to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.”

Representative Rush D. Holt, a Democrat of New Jersey and a physicist who has often been critical of the investigation, made the remarks in a letter Thursday to the F.B.I.’s director, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that he found the bureau’s request for a delay “disturbing.” The F.B.I. has told the committee that it wants to turn over an additional 500 pages of investigative documents not provided previously despite the committee’s request for all relevant material when it began the review in April 2009.

“If these new documents were relevant to the N.A.S.’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?” Mr. Holt wrote. The anthrax-laced letters that killed five people in 2001 were sent from a mailbox in Princeton in his district.

Michael Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman, declined to respond to Mr. Holt’s remarks. But he said, using the bureau’s name for the investigation, that the F.B.I. “continues to work with the National Academy of Sciences to support their ongoing review of the scientific approaches employed in the Amerithrax investigation.”

The seven-year inquiry, by some measures the largest and most complex in F.B.I. history, concluded that Bruce E. Ivins, a microbiologist at the Army’s bio-defense research center in Maryland, prepared the deadly powder and mailed it to two senators and several media organizations. The F.B.I. has made public its circumstantial case against Dr. Ivins, including genetic fingerprinting linking the mailed anthrax to a supply in his laboratory and his late hours in the lab in the days before the two mailings.

Dr. Ivins killed himself in 2008 and was never criminally charged. Some of his colleagues at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases say they do not believe he was guilty. The F.B.I. had already paid another former Army scientist, Steven J. Hatfill, a settlement worth $4.6 million to drop a lawsuit saying the bureau had falsely accused him of being the anthrax mailer.

E. William Colglazier, the academy’s executive officer, said the F.B.I.’s request was a surprise and came after the bureau saw the panel’s peer-reviewed final report, which was scheduled for release in November. He said that the committee’s 15 members, top scientists who serve as volunteers, were “exhausted,” but that the panel had agreed to extend the study and consider revising the report in return for an additional fee, probably about $50,000, beyond the $879,550 the F.B.I. has already paid for the study.

I Support Senator Sanders' Filibuster of the So-Called Tax "Deal"

And I've just become a "follower" on Twitter, here:!/senatorsanders.

Let the new Congress deal with this in January--they were elected, while the lame-duck Congress has been defeated. This Congress should go home tomorrow, and enjoy the Christmas holidays with their families.

IMHO, There is no emergency in tax law, it can always be changed.

Live streaming video on C-SPAN 2, click here.

Cong. Ron Paul Defends Wikileaks on House Floor

From Cong. Ron Paul's website:
Lying is Not Patriotic

WikiLeaks’ release of classified information has generated a lot of attention world-wide in the past few weeks.

The hysterical reaction makes one wonder if this is not an example of killing the messenger for the bad news.

Despite what is claimed, information so far released, though classified, has caused no known harm to any individual, but it has caused plenty of embarrassment to our government. Losing a grip on our empire is not welcomed by the neo-conservatives in charge.

There is now more information confirming that Saudi Arabia is a principle supporter and financier of Al Qaeda and this should set off alarm bells since we guarantee its Sharia-run government.

This emphasizes even more the fact that no Al Qaeda existed in Iraq before 9/11, and yet we went to war against Iraq based on the lie that it did.

It has been charged, by self-proclaimed experts, that Julian Assange, the internet publisher of this information, has committed a heinous crime deserving prosecution for treason and execution or even assassination.

But should we not at least ask how the U.S. government can charge an Australian citizen with treason for publishing U.S. secret information, that he did not steal?

And if Wikileaks is to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents, why shouldn’t the Washington Post, New York Times, and others that have also published these documents be prosecuted? Actually, some in Congress are threatening this as well.

The New York Times, as a result of a Supreme Court ruling, was not found guilty in 1971 for the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg never served a day in prison for his role in obtaining these secret documents.

The Pentagon Papers were also inserted into the Congressional Record by Senator Mike Gravel with no charges being made of breaking any National Security laws.

Yet the release of this classified information was considered illegal by many, and those who lied us into the Vietnam War and argued for its prolongation were outraged. But the truth gained from the Pentagon Papers revealed that lies were told about the Gulf of Tonkin attack which perpetuated a sad and tragic episode in our history.

Just as with the Vietnam War, the Iraq War was based on lies. We were never threatened by Weapons of Mass Destruction or Al Qaeda in Iraq, though the attack on Iraq was based on this false information.

Any information that challenges the official propaganda for the war in the Middle East is unwelcome by the administration and supporters of these unnecessary wars. Few are interested in understanding the relationship of our foreign policy and our presence in the Middle East to the threat of terrorism. Revealing the real nature and goal for our presence in so many Muslim countries is a threat to our empire and any revelation of this truth is highly resented by those in charge.

Questions to consider:

1. Do the American people deserve to know the truth regarding the ongoing war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

2. Could a larger question be: how can an Army Private gain access to so much secret material?

3. Why is the hostility mostly directed at Assange, the publisher, and not our government’s failure to protect classified information?

4. Are we getting our money’s worth from the $80 billion per year we spend on our intelligence agencies?

5. Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths; lying us into war, or WikiLeaks’ revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

6. If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information, that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the First Amendment and the independence of the internet?

7. Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

8. Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in the time of a declared war—which is treason—and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death, and corruption?

9. Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it’s wrong?

Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised: “Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.”
I might add that Mark Twain concurred with Cong. Paul's sentiments when he said:
"Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it."

Wayward Starfish Batik Online Store

A plug and a link to the catalog for my cousin Tyler Jarvik's online store: Wayward Starfish.

Tyler makes batik silk scarves, children's clothes, and tee-shirts by hand from his own designs. They could make nice last-minute Christmas gifts...or you might buy something for yourself.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Australians Rally Behind Assange

Unlike the cowardly American media and intelligentsia, Australians (including Australian women) still seem to have balls, judging from this online Australian petition to defend Julian Assange, posted on the Australian Broadcasting Company website:
The authors write: We wrote the letter below because we believe that Julian Assange is entitled to all the protections enshrined in the rule of law – and that the Australian Government has an obligation to ensure he receives them.

The signatures here have been collected in the course of a day-and-a-half, primarily from people in publishing, law and politics. The signatories hold divergent views about WikiLeaks and its operations. But they are united in a determination to see Mr Assange treated fairly.

We know that many others would have liked to sign. But given the urgency of the situation, we though it expedient to publish now rather than collect more names.

If, however, you agree with the sentiments expressed, we encourage you to leave your name in the comments section.

Dear Prime Minister,

We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
“We should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him,” writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.

William Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, asks, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”

“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” writes the prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg.

“The CIA should have already killed Julian Assange,” says John Hawkins on the Right Wing Newssite.

Sarah Palin, a likely presidential candidate, compares Assange to an Al Qaeda leader; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and potential presidential contender, accuses Assange of “terrorism”.

And so on and so forth.

Such calls cannot be dismissed as bluster. Over the last decade, we have seen the normalisation of extrajudicial measures once unthinkable, from ‘extraordinary rendition’ (kidnapping) to ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture).

In that context, we now have grave concerns for Mr Assange’s wellbeing.

Irrespective of the political controversies surrounding WikiLeaks, Mr Assange remains entitled to conduct his affairs in safety, and to receive procedural fairness in any legal proceedings against him.

As is well known, Mr Assange is an Australian citizen.

We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange, and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states.

We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange's passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.

A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial – it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

We believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.

In this crucial time, a strong statement by you and your Government can make an important difference.

We look forward to your response.

Dr Jeff Sparrow, author and editor
Lizzie O’Shea, Social Justice Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn
Professor Noam Chomsky, writer and academic
Antony Loewenstein, journalist and author
Mungo MacCallum, journalist and writer
Professor Peter Singer, author and academic
Adam Bandt, MP
Senator Bob Brown
Senator Scott Ludlam
Julian Burnside QC, barrister
Jeff Lawrence, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions
Professor Raimond Gaita, author and academic
Rob Stary, lawyer
Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps, writer
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Brian Walters SC, barrister
Professor Larissa Behrendt, academic
Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, academic, Sydney Peace Foundation
Mary Kostakidis, Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation
Professor Wendy Bacon, journalist
Christos Tsiolkas, author
James Bradley, author and journalist
Julian Morrow, comedian and television producer
Louise Swinn, publisher
Helen Garner, novelist
Professor Dennis Altman, writer and academic
Dr Leslie Cannold, author, ethicist, commentator
John Birmingham, writer
Guy Rundle, writer
Alex Miller, writer
Sophie Cunningham, editor and author
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
Professor Judith Brett, author and academic
Stephen Keim SC, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Phil Lynch, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Resource Centre
Sylvia Hale, MLC
Sophie Black, editor
David Ritter, lawyer and historian
Dr Scott Burchill, writer and academic
Dr Mark Davis, author and academic
Henry Rosenbloom, publisher
Ben Naparstek, editor
Chris Feik, editor
Louise Swinn, publisher
Stephen Warne, barrister
Dr John Dwyer QC
Hilary McPhee, writer, publisher
Joan Dwyer OAM
Greg Barns, barrister
James Button, journalist
Owen Richardson, critic
Michelle Griffin, editor
John Timlin, literary Agent & producer
Ann Cunningham, lawyer and publisher
Alison Croggon, author, critic
Daniel Keene, playwright
Dr Nick Shimmin, editor/writer
Bill O'Shea, lawyer, former President, Law Institute of Victoria
Dianne Otto, Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School
Professor Frank Hutchinson,Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney
Anthony Georgeff, editor
Max Gillies, actor
Shane Maloney, writer
Louis Armand, author and publisher
Jenna Price, academic and journalist
Tanja Kovac, National Cooordinator EMILY's List Australia
Dr Russell Grigg, academic
Dr Justin Clemens, writer and academic
Susan Morairty, Lawyer
David Hirsch, Barrister
Cr Anne O’Shea
Kathryn Crosby, Candidates Online
Dr Robert Sparrow, academic
Jennifer Mills, author
Foong Ling Kong, editor
Tim Norton,  Online Campaigns Co-ordinator,  Oxfam Australia
Elisabeth Wynhausen, writer
Ben Slade, Lawyer
Nikki Anderson, publisher
Dan Cass
Professor Diane Bell, author and academic
Dr Philipa Rothfield, academic
Gary Cazalet, academic
Dr David Coady, academic
Dr Matthew Sharpe, writer and academic
Dr Tamas Pataki, writer and academic
Miska Mandic
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, academic
Professor Simon During, academic
Michael Brull, writer
Dr Geoff Boucher, academic
Jacinda Woodhead, writer and editor
Dr Rjurik Davidson, writer and editor
Mic Looby, writer
Jane Gleeson-White, writer and editor
Alex Skutenko, editor
Associate Professor John Collins, academic
Professor Philip Pettit, academic
Dr Christopher Scanlon, writer and academic
Dr Lawrie Zion, journalist
Johannes Jakob, editor
Sunili Govinnage, lawyer
Michael Bates, lawyer
Bridget Maidment, editor
Bryce Ives, theatre director
Sarah Darmody, writer
Jill Sparrow, writer
Lyn Bender, psychologist
Meredith Rose, editor
Dr Ellie Rennie, President, Engage Media
Ryan Paine, editor
Simon Cooper, editor
Chris Haan, lawyer
Carmela Baranowska, journalist.
Clinton Ellicott, publisher
Dr Charles Richardson, writer and academic
Phillip Frazer, publisher
Geoff Lemon, journalist
Jaya Savige, poet and editor
Johannes Jakob, editor
Kate Bree Geyer; journalist
Chay-Ya Clancy, performer
Lisa Greenaway, editor, writer
Chris Kennett - screenwriter, journalist
Kasey Edwards, author
Dr. Janine Little, academic
Dr Andrew Milner, writer and academic
Patricia Cornelius, writer
Elisa Berg, publisher
Lily Keil, editor
Jenny Sinclair
Roselina Rose
Stephen Luntz
PM Newton
Bryan Cooke
Kristen Obaid
Ryan Haldane-Underwood
Patrick Gardner
Robert Sinnerbrink
Kathryn Millist
Anne Coombs
Karen Pickering
Sarah Mizrahi
Suzanne Ingleton
Jessica Crouch
Michael Ingleton
Matt Griffin
Jane Allen
Tom Curtis
John Connell
David Garland
Stuart Hall
Meredith Tucker-Evans
Phil Perkins
Alexandra Adsett
Tom Doig, editor
Beth Jackson
Peter Mattessi
Robert Sinnerbrink
Greg Black
Paul Ashton
Sigi Jottkandt
Kym Connell, lawyer
Silma Ihram
Nicole Papaleo, lawyer
Melissa Forbes
Matthew Ryan
Ben Gook
Daniel East
Bridget Ikin
Lisa O'Connell
Melissa Cranenburgh
John Bryson
Michael Farrell
Melissa Reeves
Dr Emma Cox
Michael Green
Margherita Tracanelli
David Carlin, writer
Bridget McDonnell
Geoff Page, writer
Rebecca Interdonato
Roxane Ludbrook-Ingleton
Stefan Caramia
Ash Plummer

John Milton Defends Julian Assange

From Milton's Areopagitica:

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

Full text online at Dartmouth's Milton Reading Room (perhaps only until Senator Lieberman pressures them to take it down?)

In keeping with John Milton, I now believe that Assange had better publish on an old-fashioned printing press, to distribute in book form, all those 250,000 controversial documents--so they couldn't be deleted or blocked by future DNS attacks.

The sales revenue could help pay for his legal defense fund...and then there shouldn't be any arguments subsequent to print publication as to whether Assange is a member of the press--if he's published a book, it's been printed on a press, after all.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The Lockerbie bomber was set free by the British, with US assent, but Julian Assange is in jail.

IMHO, the best thing Assange could do would be to dump all the 250,000 documents ASAP, there is nothing to be gained by delay--and the chances are that Wikileaks will be shut down before very long, "doomsday code" or not.

Let the public decide whether damage has been done--or not. If not, no harm--no foul. If so, then he'll have to face the music in court.

Honestly, I don't think anything in Cablegate could possibly damage US National Security more than spectacle of this public prosecution of Julian Assange and Wikileaks--because it undermines anything America might say in defense of bloggers in places like China, Iran, Myanmar or North Korea; and makes a hollow sham of America's commitment to Freedom of the Press, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, or the public's right to know.

IMHO, The US should be giving Assange a medal, instead of prosecuting Wikileaks founder on trumped up sex charges.

At least Matt Drudge has been covering the story properly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hilary Clinton on Internet Freedom, BW--Before Wikileaks...

From Foreign Policy's website (ht Drudge), an excerpt from a speech by the US Secretary of State at the Newseum in Washington, DC on January 21, 2010:

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress. But the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world's information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.

This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to the Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.

Franklin Roosevelt built on these ideas when he delivered his Four Freedoms speech in 1941. At the time, Americans faced a cavalcade of crises and a crisis of confidence. But the vision of a world in which all people enjoyed freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear transcended the trouble of his day.

Years later, one of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, worked to have these principles adopted as a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They have provided a lodestar to every succeeding generation - guiding us, galvanizing us, and enabling us to move forward in the face of uncertainty.

As technology hurtles forward, we must think back to that legacy. We need to synchronize our technological progress with our principles. In accepting the Nobel Prize, President Obama spoke about the need to build a world in which peace rests on the "inherent rights and dignity of every individual." And in my speech on human rights at Georgetown I talked about how we must find ways to make human rights a reality. Today, we find an urgent need to protect these freedoms on the digital frontiers of the 21st century.

There are many other networks in the world - some aid in the movement of people or resources; and some facilitate exchanges between individuals with the same work or interests. But the internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that's why we believe it's critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms.


First among them is the freedom of expression. This freedom is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. Blogs, email, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas - and created new targets for censorship.

As I speak to you today, government censors are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. But history itself has already condemned these tactics. Two months ago, I was in Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The leaders gathered at that ceremony paid tribute to the courageous men and women on the far side of that barrier who made the case against oppression by circulating small pamphlets called samizdat. These leaflets questioned the claims and intentions of dictatorships in the Eastern Bloc, and many people paid dearly for distributing them. But their words helped pierce the concrete and concertina wire of the Iron Curtain.

The Berlin Wall symbolized a world divided, and it defined an entire era. Today, remnants of that wall sit inside this museum - where they belong. And the new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet.

Instead of division, it stands for connection. But even as networks spread to nations around the globe, virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls.

Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world's networks. They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world. Beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.

As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are targeting independent thinkers who use these tools. In the demonstrations that followed Iran's presidential elections, grainy cell phone footage of a young woman's bloody murder provided a digital indictment of the government's brutality. We've seen reports that when Iranians living overseas posted online criticism of their nation's leaders, their family members in Iran were singled out for retribution. And despite an intense campaign of government intimidation, brave citizen journalists in Iran continue using technology to show the world and their fellow citizens what is happening in their country. In speaking out on behalf of their own human rights the Iranian people have inspired the world.

And their courage is redefining how technology is used to spread truth and expose injustice.

All societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence, such as the agents of al Qaeda who are - at this moment - using the internet to promote the mass murder of innocent people. And hate speech that targets individuals on the basis of their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is reprehensible. It is an unfortunate fact that these issues are both growing challenges that the international community must confront together. We must also grapple with the issue of anonymous speech. Those who use the internet to recruit terrorists or distribute stolen intellectual property cannot divorce their online actions from their real world identities. But these challenges must not become an excuse for governments to systematically violate the rights and privacy of those who use the internet for peaceful political purposes.

Julian Assange: Murdoch Inspired Wikileaks

Writing in Rupert Murdoch's flagship paper Down Under, The Australian:
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
IMHO, it might have been nice if Rupert Murdoch had published this article in his Wall Street Journal, as a counterpart to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's oped this morning...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Document of the Week: US State Department Cable Declares Saudi Arabia 'a critical source of terrorist funding'

This 2009 Wikileaks cable from US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was published by The Guardian (UK):
Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan. In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qa'ida's access to funding from Saudi sources, Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa'ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mathew Ingram: Wikileaks Defends Freedom of the Press

From (ht Jeff Jarvis):
The past week has seen plenty of ink spilled — virtual and otherwise — about WikiLeaks and its mercurial front-man, Julian Assange, and the pressure they have come under from the U.S. government and companies such as Amazon and PayPal, both of which have blocked WikiLeaks from using their services. Why should we care about any of this? Because more than anything else, WikiLeaks is a publisher — a new kind of publisher, but a publisher nonetheless — and that makes this a freedom of the press issue. Like it or not, WikiLeaks is fundamentally a journalistic entity, and as such it deserves our protection.

Jeff Jarvis: Transparency Only Sure Defense Against Secrecy

Jeff Jarvis's reasoned defense of Wikileaks, from the Huffington Post:
But as we can see from what has been leaked, there is much we should know -- actions taken in our name -- that government holds from us. We also know that the revelation of these secrets has not been devastating. America's and Germany's relationship has not collapsed because one undiplomatic diplomat called Angela Merkel uncreative. WikiLeaks head Julian Assange told the Guardian that in four years, "there has been no credible allegation, even by organizations like the Pentagon, that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities."

So perhaps the lesson of WikiLeaks should be that the open air is less fearsome than we'd thought. That should lead to less secrecy. After all, the only sure defense against leaks is transparency.

But that is not what's happening. In the U.S., the White House announced a new security initiative to clamp down on information. The White House even warned government workers not to look at WikiLeaks documents online because they were still officially secret, which betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of secret as something people do not know. I fear that one legacy of WikiLeaks' work will be that officials will communicate less in writing and more by phone, diminishing the written record for journalism and history.

I have become an advocate of openness in government, business, and even our personal lives and relationships. The internet has taught me the benefits of sharing and connecting information.

This is why I have urged caution in not going overboard with the privacy mania sweeping much of modern society and especially Germany. Beware the precedents we set, defaulting to closed and secret, whether in pixelating public views in Google Street View, or in disabling the advertising targeting that makes online marketing more valuable and will pay for much of the web's free content.

I fear that a pixel fog may overcome us, blurring what should be becoming clearer. I had hoped instead that we would pull back the curtain on society, letting the sunlight in. That is our choice.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

More from Charles Crawford on WikiLeaks

The former British ambassador to Poland says the cables released so far show that "US diplomats are doing a fine job."
A key point to remember in all this Wikileaks business is that what you are seeing blabbed out on the Web is only part of what has been sent - it is stupid to draw definitive policy conclusions from any one piece of work or even larger blocs of work.

In particular, if one or two cables contain some disobliging remarks on foreign people and their policies, so what?

One of the key strengths of the US/UK reporting style (unlike eg those of many EU partners) is that diplomats at the coal-face are able to give their personal comments.

But a comment is just that - the thought of the drafter, not a policy conclusion or even recommendation. Policies come from HQ taking myriad comments and working out what is best.

Haitian Election Ousts Ruling Party

No clear winner yet, but a clear loser has emerged, according to Bloomberg:
Haiti’s government will honor the results of the disputed Nov. 28 election, the nation’s ambassador to the United Nations said after ruling party presidential candidate Jude Celestin said he may have lost.

“We are moving forward in terms of a democratic transition of power,” Ambassador Leo Merores said at a UN meeting on Haiti in New York. “The government is firm in its resolve to transition power on Feb. 7 to the newly elected president.”
Results in the election, Haiti’s first since January’s earthquake, aren’t expected until at least Dec. 7. About 4.5 million people were eligible to cast ballots for a new leader to replace President Rene Preval, along with 11 of 30 senators and all 99 parliament deputies.
The election was marred by allegations of fraud and incidents of violence that resulted in a call by 12 of 18 presidential candidates for the vote to be annulled. Celestin, who didn’t support that demand, said on Nov. 30 that he may have lost, Agence France-Presse reported.
More, in French, at