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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: wikileaks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Canongate "went to war" over Assange memoir – Michel

Written By: 
Philip Jones
Publication Date: 
Thu, 29/09/2011 - 15:18

Julian Assange's literary agent and PFD m.d. Caroline Michel accused publisher Canongate of going "to war" with her client and "feeding the media myth" in releasing information to the Independent newspaper ahead of publication of Assange's controversial memoir.

The email, sent to Canongate founder Jamie Byng, has been revealed on the Wikileaks website after it published transcribed phone conversations and emails leading up to the publication of Julian Assange, The Unauthorised Autobiography last week.

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2. Inside the vacuum of ignorance

By Karen Greenberg


The most amazing fact about the more than 700 previously unseen classified Guantánamo documents released by WikiLeaks and several unaffiliated news organizations the night of Sunday, April 24, is how little in them is new. The information in these documents — admittedly not classified “top secret” but merely “secret” — spells out details that buttress what we already knew, which is this: From day one at Guantánamo, the U.S. national security apparatus has known very little about the detainees in custody. The United States does not know who they are, how to assess what they say, and what threat they ultimately pose.

Given this vacuum of ignorance, U.S. officials decided at the outset that it was better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, any imaginable way in which behavior or statements could be deemed dangerous led to individual detainees being classified as “high risk.” The result was the policy we have seen since 2002 — a policy of assessing potential danger based on details like what kind of watches the detainees wore, the way they drew on the dirt floors of their cages, and whether they had travel documents on them. In addition, the just-released documents reaffirm the fact that much of the material on the detainees apparently came from hearsay derived from what seems to have been a limited number of interrogations, some performed under circumstances amounting to torture.

It is not just the conclusions of Guantánamo critics like myself that are being verified by these newly found documents. The conclusions of the judges who have sifted through available information to determine just who deserves to be at Guantánamo and who is being held on the basis of insufficient evidence have also been reinforced. In 58 habeas cases spanning both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s administrations, federal judges have determined that in 36 of the cases there is insufficient evidence to hold these individuals and that often the detention was based on information obtained through hearsay, frequently the result of torture. In other words, the little evidence that existed was largely unreliable.

The sad fact is that these documents tell us more about ourselves than about the detainees. They tell us that U.S. officials to this day know very little based on hard evidence about the majority of those who have been held at Guantánamo, that assessments of risk have all too often been based on flights of imagination that tend to enhance the sense of power and capability of al Qaeda, and that the criteria for determining risk are at best murky. Those deemed to pose a risk ranged from individual detainees who proclaimed angry threats against their guards to those who were believed to have been actively involved in terrorism.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once pointed out, in reference to the failure to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Although the quip may seem facile, it is actually a candid assessment of what has gone wrong at Guantánamo from the time it opened in January 2002. It continues to go wrong to this day. The proper, lawful, most security-minded restatement of Rumsfeld’s maxim would be this: Absence of evidence requires better intelligence, more careful judgments, and more savvy realism. Without facts, it is not only the just treatment of detainees that is at issue — it is the security of the United States itself.

Karen Greenberg is executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law and author of 0 Comments on Inside the vacuum of ignorance as of 1/1/1900

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3. Horace and free speech in the age of WikiLeaks

By Robert Cowan


“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” So wrote Salman Rushdie and he should know. Certainly free speech is routinely held up, often unreflectively, as an unambiguous, uncontroversial good – one of Franklin Roosevelt’s four freedoms, the right for which Voltaire would famously die, even if he disapproved of what was being said. In the age of WikiLeaks, the freedom to disseminate information and its corollary, the freedom to know what those in power have said or done in secret, have found ever more vigorous proponents, but also those who ask whether it has its limits.

It has always been problematic whether freedom of speech should be extended to those whose speech is considered abhorrent and who might even argue against others’ freedom of speech. Voltaire may offer to lay down his life and Chomsky may assert that “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”, but the very power of speech which makes its freedom so desirable can also render it an instrument of discrimination, violence, and oppression. It is no coincidence that it is often groups such as the BNP or Qur’an-burning pastors who hold up free speech as a banner under which they can use that freedom to demand the curtailment of others’ freedoms. Even more directly, the dangers of verbal incitement to hatred – be it on racial, sexual, or other grounds – are increasingly recognized in both the statute books and the public consciousness.

WikiLeaks has highlighted the other potential danger of free speech, that, in the famous words of the World War II poster, “careless talk costs lives”. Many have used the rhetoric of being willing to die for the right to free speech, but the issue becomes more problematic when it is soldiers who are dying in Afghanistan because of outrage at revelations of undiplomatic diplomatic cables. Once again, there is no coincidence that it is in times of war and unrest that the issue of free speech becomes particularly fraught. It is then that its negative ramifications can be most keenly felt, but it is also then that it is most under threat from the pressures of power and expediency, then that it most needs defending.

So what does all this have to do with the Roman poet Horace? Horace too was writing in a time of war and political upheaval. As he composed his Satires in the 30s BC, Rome had suffered almost a century of civil unrest exploding into outright civil war at regular intervals, and the final bout between Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) and Mark Antony was just around the corner. Horace himself had fought on “the wrong side” at the battle of Philippi in 42 BC, in the army of Julius Caesar’s assassins, Brutus and Cassius, against the ultimate victors, Octavian and Antony. Taken into the circle of Octavian’s ally and unofficial minister of culture, Maecenas, Horace had his status and his finances restored. It was at this point that Horace wrote book one of the Satires. These poems are full of profound human insights and uproarious, often filthy, humour, as can be experienced in John Davie’s lively new translation, but there is one large oddity about them. Horace chose to write satire, the genre of the 2nd century BC poet Lucilius, famed above all for his fearless freedom of speech, and he chose to write it in the period of probably the greatest military and political upheaval Rome ever underwent, but he “doesn’t mention the war”.

Not only does he not mention it, he goes out of his way not to mention it. Again and again there are opportunities to engage with the important political events in Rome and around her Mediterranean empire, but Horace repeatedly refuses. Satire 1.7 is all about Brutus’ time as governor of the provi

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4. Phone-Hacking, Muck-Raking, and the Future of Surveillance

By Simon Chesterman


The ongoing police investigation into phone-hacking in Britain by the tabloid News of the World has revealed the widespread use of surveillance techniques by private actors, with predictable outrage expressed at the violations of privacy. Yet the recent inquiries only began in earnest after a major story in the New York Times.

This is the paradox of today’s media: investigative journalism is often key to revealing abuses of surveillance powers, yet the commercial reality of today’s market drives unscrupulous journalists themselves towards ever more dubious methods.

That market has been radically altered by the “new media”, with WikiLeaks as its poster-child — ably exploiting the Internet’s capacity for widespread dissemination of data, but at the expense of credible efforts at analysis or minimizing the potential harm to named individuals. It is “journalism” by quantity rather than quality.

These two trends — muck-raking and unfiltered dissemination — become all the more serious when linked to the extraordinary tools of surveillance available to government and, increasingly, private actors.

The spread of surveillance powers through Britain has long puzzled outside observers. On the one hand, Britain is a rare example of a country that developed a comprehensive identity card regime during the Second World War and then dismantled it after the conclusion of hostilities — apparently to the dismay of many in law enforcement circles. Later in the century, however, the absence of constitutional protections of rights, a general belief in the benevolence of government, and episodes like the 1993 James Bulger murder encouraged the growth of a sophisticated surveillance state.

Britain now enjoys the highest concentration of CCTV cameras in the world, manages the London Congestion Charge by recording details of every car entering and leaving the capital, and stores DNA samples from an ever growing proportion of the population.

In the 2010 general election, Britain’s Conservative Party campaigned on a platform of scrapping plans for an identity card that would have been linked to a National Identity Register. Interestingly, the arguments that resonated with the public had less to do with privacy concerns than the expense involved, doubts about government competence to manage the data, and a general wariness that the whole enterprise looked a little too “European”.

Does this mean that Britons do not care about privacy? Certainly not. But as in many other countries it is hard to reconcile the apparent sincerity of individuals claiming to be concerned about their privacy with the nonchalant behaviour of those same individuals in revealing personal information voluntarily or engaging in activities where there is manifestly no reasonable expectation to privacy.

This is not limited to teenagers. The current head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, was embarrassed by photos that his wife posted on Facebook in 2009 revealing the location of their London flat and the whereabouts of their three adult children. Last October his daughter uploaded a suggestive photograph of herself holding a golden Kalashnikov — quickly cut and pasted from Facebook to the Mirror.

There is, however, a generational element to attit

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5. Wikileaks condoms


Satire for the Nu.nl news website, about the leaking of a photo of a ripped condom from a case against Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange.

You're invited to sevensheaven.nl for an extended impression.

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6. New York Times Publishes WikiLeaks eBook

The New York Times has released an eBook covering the WikiLeaks scandal entitled Open Secrets: WikiLeaks, War and American Diplomacy. The newspaper cut an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble, and the title will only be available on the Nook.

eBookNewser reports: “The book chronicles important documents from WikiLeaks story and the controversy that came about as the stories were leaked to the press. The eBook comes out later this week for $5.99.”

Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich will both have opinion pieces included in the book. Senior editor Alexander Star edited the book.

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. Leaky Diplomacy and Arab Anxiety

By Dana H. Allin and Steven Simon


The Wikileaks trove of diplomatic documents confirms what many have known for a long time: Israel is not the only Middle Eastern country that fears a nuclear armed Iran and wants Washington to do something about it.

If Tehran was listening, the truth of this fear was apparent last month in Bahrain, where the International Institute for Strategic Studies organized a large meeting of Gulf Arab ministers, King Abdullah of Jordan, Iran’s foreign minister Mottaki, and top officials from outside powers including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The convocation was polite: no one said it was time to “cut off the head of the snake,” as Saudi Arabia’s King was reported, in one of the Wikileaks cables, to have urged in regard to Iran. But Arab anxiety about Iran’s power, and how it could be augmented by nuclear power, was palpable.

As one might also expect, the closer Arab capitals are to Iran, apart from Baghdad, the more fervently their rulers implore Washington to take vigorous action – up to and including military action – against Iranian nuclear facilities. Some, like Saudi Arabia, have offered to make up for Iran’s lost oil production in the event of war to limit the adverse effect of higher prices on a weak US economy. In those countries closest to Iran, moreover, the Arab street shares regimes’ worries. In a poll last year in Saudi Arabia, 40 % of respondents in three large cities said that the US should bomb Iran, while one out of four said that it would be OK with them if even Israel did the job. The governments of countries farther away but within range of Iran’s Shahab 3 missiles – such as Egypt – are also nervous. In an act of not-so-subtle messaging, Egypt has agreed to let nuclear capable Israeli warships through the Suez Canal, so that the Israeli Navy can get to the Persian Gulf quickly. These ships would not be going there for a port visit and shopping at the Sharjah souk.

It should be said that Wikileaks’ reckless disclosures threaten to box in both Washington and its allies in damaging ways. The purpose of secret diplomacy, as opposed to public throat clearing, is to allow governments to express views freely, experiment with positions, and bargain without creating pressures for rash action or causing paralysis. The problem with Wikileaks’ irresponsible revelations is that they complicate diplomatic coordination in matters, literally, of war and peace.

Yet, despite the muddle, there is no reason for Washington to change its basic course. A military option against nuclear facilities will not be ruled out in any event; yet the purpose of US policy should be to forestall the moment when the US must choose whether to disarm Iran or settle for a strategy of containment. The relative weakness of of America’s current position dictates this approach. The United States still has large numbers of troops committed to two wars, faces the possibility of conflict in Korea, and remains mired in the unemployment emergency created by the financial crash and Great Recession. European, American and Russian cohesion on Iran policy is still fragile. In the fullness of time, these debilities can be overcome.

And there is time. To be sure, among the new revelations was an alarming report of Tehran’s cooperation with North Korea to produce more powerful ballistic missiles. Iran now possesses 33 kilograms of uranium enriched to the 20% threshold for highly enriched uranium, as well

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8. Recent work

A selection from recent works ...


Visual comment upon the Dutch news of 2010, about the inglorious downfall of Jan Peter Balkenende and his CDA party.



Range of clarifying infographics illustrations for an online insurance service.



Visual comment about the perils surrounding the Wikileaks initiative, and the arrest of frontman Julian Assange.

Sevensheaven images and prints are for sale at sevensheaven.nl

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9. WikiLeaks, Anarchism, and the State

By Elvin Lim


WikiLeaks affirms on its website that “democracy and transparency go hand in hand.” This may be true in the abstract, but in the world in which we live, it is not, because the only democracies we know of operate within the confines of the nation-state, and nation-states are not comfortable with transparency. That is why the campaign by the nation-states of the world to shut the site down is proceeding with such ferocity.

Individuals – at least those who live in states committed to the rule of law – enjoy a presumptive respect for our privacy. There is no reason why anyone or any institution should have access to details of our private life. We do not owe anyone a transparent account of our lives.

WikiLeaks believes that nation-states should not enjoy a similar presumption because it believes that under the cover of secrecy, states are more likely than not to engage in nefarious activity. WikiLeaks rejects the “need-to-know” operational norm of the nation-state because it rejects its monopolization of the legitimate use of force and therefore its monopolization of the legitimate use of information.

And this is the disagreement between anarchists and realists. Realists believe that nation-states are the way to run what would otherwise be an even more anarchic world. If it weren’t the American, German or any other government dealing with each other, it would be multinational corporations, sub-national groups, and transnational organizations (some of which are terrorist groups) determining the agenda and contours of global politics. Realists assume that the disorder between entities other than nation-states would far exceed the disorder between nation-states. Anarchists believe that the disorder between nation-states – most notably, war – is the source of global friction, not its solution.

The anarchism of Julian Assange (WikiLeaks’ public face) is not so far removed from other strands of anti-statism. Assange rejects all nation-states in a plenary fashion. The American Tea Party movement does not challenge the American nation, but it does reject the American state when its focus is directed internally (rather than externally). Like Assange, the movement believes that whereas individuals do not owe to others a duty to be transparent about ourselves, states owe a duty of transparency to those who are burdened by their authority. Osama Bin Laden rejects only Western nation-states and their support of the Jewish nation-state, but he is no anarchist because he wants to create a Palestinian state. Bin Laden believes in transparency too – just not his own. The interesting point that emerges from these comparisons is that whereas the anarchist is universally and without exception against the state (and believes that all nation-states, if they exist, should be transparent in their dealings with each other), both non-state actors like Al Qaeda and sub-state actors, like the Tea Party movement, are only selectively in support of the state and the virtue of transparency when they further their perceived interests but not otherwise.

What the last three examples force is a question that will come under increasing scrutiny in the decades to come: under what conditions do we need the state? Reasonable people can and will disagree, but what is clear is that very few people are completely against the state without reservation or exceptions. Anarchists, like all purists, are a lonely b

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10. Ypulse Essentials: Facebook Overhauls Profile Pages, Monster High's Transmedia Model, Millennial Wine Drinkers

Facebook rolls out revamped profile pages (to display user info more visually with photos made prominent, top interests showcased as images and more descriptive relationships. In a savvier roll-out than years past, the new layout was announced on... Read the rest of this post

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11. Why the Library of Congress Is Blocking Wikileaks

I’m not totally comfortable with Library of Congress specifically blocking access to Wikileaks for staff and patrons at the Library of Congress as confirmed on Talking Points Memo. Here is the LoC blog’s response which refers to the same statement they are giving to reporters and the press. The situation is, of course, quite complicated but I find this to be an odd precedent that makes me a little itchy.

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12. Wikileaks, the Uncensorable Wikipedia

If you are interested in the news you won't see at 6:00 or 11:00, check out Wikileaks. According to their website,

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.
There is a link that is specific to Canadian documents.

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13. SirsiDynix Corp lobby paper against Open Source technologies

Interesting thing in my inbox today from WikiLeaks. Read it and see what you think about it. Any SirsiDynix customers actually receive this and want to go on the record about it? From the WikiLeaks page:

This document was released only to a select number of existing customers of the company SirsiDynix, a proprietary library automation software vendor. It has not been released more broadly specifically because of the misinformation about open source software and possible libel per se against certain competitors contained therein.

SirsiDynix is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with one of the largest public libraries in the U.S. (Queens Borough, NY) and this document does illustrate the less-than-ethical nature of this company.

The source states that the document should be leaked so that everyone can see to what extent SirsiDynix will attempt to spread falsehoods and smear open source and the proponents of open source.

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