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Wikileaks And The End of the Open Internet

2010 December 4
by Ian Welsh

Let’s just state the obvious here: we’re seeing the end of the open internet with what is being done to Wikileaks.  It’s one thing for Amazon to toss them, it’s another thing entirely to refuse to propagate their domain information.  This has been coming for quite some time, and Wikileaks is not the first domain to be shut down in the US, it is merely the highest profile.  Combined with the attempt to make NetFlix pay a surcharge or lose access to customers, this spells the end of the free internet.

The absurdity, the sheer Orwellian stupidity of this is epitomized by the State Department telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State.  As if anyone who isn’t curious to read what is in the leaks, who doesn’t want to know how diplomacy actually works, is anyone State should hire.  In a sane world, the reaction would be the opposite: no one who hadn’t read them would be hired.

This is reminiscent of the way the old Soviet Union worked, with everyone being forced to pretend they don’t know what they absolutely do know, and blind conformity prized over ability.

Meanwhile a worldwide alert is out for the horrible Julian Assange for rape, aka: not using a condom.  I certainly won’t defend not using a condom when your partner wants you to, if that’s what happened, but those guilty of such crimes don’t usually have worldwide manhunts called against them, do they?  Meanwhile the squishy left wrings its hands and wails.  Let me put it to you this way: no one who was willing to put themselves out there the way Assange did is not a massive risk taker.  Going into this he had to know that eventually he would be locked up, discredited, killed or some combination.  Prudent men and women who would never do anything stupid (like sleep with groupies) would not have created Wikileaks in the first place and would not have leaked the inflammatory material that Assange has put out there in the second place.

In the spirit of a rambling post, let’s move back to the internet.  Leaving aside censorship, which is older than writing, and is banal, boring and predictable, especially from states on auto-pilot to authoritarianism like the US, the economic model to use when thinking about the internet is the old railroads of the 19th and early 20th century.  The railroads were the only way to get your products to market if you weren’t on the coast, a major river or canal.  They were hated, loathed with a passion, by farmers.  Why?  Because they took all the surplus value, all the profit.  If you weren’t willing to pay, you went out of business.  Even if you were willing to pay, you wound up in hock to them.  You worked for the railroad, period.  All or virtually all of what would have been profit went to them.

When the only way to get your product to market is an unregulated monopoly or oligopoly they will take it all.  The result isn’t just unprofitable businesses, it’s failed businesses and businesses that never get off the ground, because they can’t afford to pay the freight, or more accurately, the vig.  Oligopolies in between producers and consumers always strangle the economy.  Always.

And, on top of p0litical repression of free speech, that’s what’s coming to the internet near you.  The essentially free and open internet is dying and it will soon be dead.

(Note: text changed from Hilary Clinton to State department telling students)

62 Responses
  1. Tom Hickey permalink
    December 4, 2010

    The good thing is that it is becoming abundantly clear that since passage of the “Patriot” Act (Orwellian doublespeak) the ones interested in “taking away our freedoms,” as W put it, are not Osama and Al Qaeda but the ruling elite whose political flaks are the Establishment of both parties. This Establishment is joined at the brain.

    Now they are really stuffing our noses in it with this Wikileaks suppression and making Assange out as a terrorist. I’m sensing that maybe, just maybe, we are approaching a Sixties moment when Mario Savio was handed a bull horn on the steps of Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement that lead eventually to massive anti-war protests. This is really over the top.

    Good observation about paying the freight, Ian. It goes far deeper than that, of course. See, for example, Michael Hudson’s recent article at Counterpunch, Next up: a flat tax for the rich.

    The wealthy want just what bankers want: the entire economic surplus (followed by a foreclosure on property). They want all the disposable income over and above basic subsistence – and then, when this shrinks the economy, they want the government to sell off the public domain in “privatization” giveaways, and they want people to turn over their houses and any other property they have to the creditors. “Your money or your life” is not only what bank robbers demand. It is what banks themselves demand, and the wealthy 10 per cent of the population that owns most of the bank stock.

    And of course, the wealthy classes want to free themselves from the share of taxes that they have not already shed. The flat-tax ploy is their godsend.

    Time to just say no.

  2. Tom Hickey permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Wikileaks.org has been taken down, but here are some Wikileak’s links.

    http://stopmebeforeivoteagain.org/2010/12/break_containment.html

  3. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Yes Tom. They want to avoid taxation and they want all the surplus and they want everyone else to be a debt peon. The oligopoly freight rates on the internet are just one mechanism towards that.

    Frankly, a revolution may well be necessary.

  4. South Carolina is home of the Junior Mint permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Why hasn’t anyone called Hillary to the carpet using her Remarks on Internet Freedom 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. Now, 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 our 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. Now, 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 troubles of his day. And 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.”

    Do you think Wikileaks and Julian Assauge read this?

  5. December 4, 2010

    Re the squishy left. Big Bill Haywood was right, “a liberal is the guy who leaves the room when a fight starts.”

  6. December 4, 2010

    Rambling indeed. Some rambling observations….

    ARPAnet and most of its underlying protocols were robust against censorship because the censorship that its engineers were tasked to handle was to be exercised by nuclear warheads. “The Internet”, that mystical perpetual device that alleviated the need for The People to get their collective arse of the couch and on the street, never existed. The Domain Name Service, specifically, always was a key weakness in the suite of protocols that define “The Internet”, amply demonstrated by its vulnerability to DDoS attacks.

    However, the key problem with the modern Internet is signal-to-noise, which is universal, demonstrated well in pre-Internet media and contemporary politics, and unlikely to be resolved. Do you depend on Google to navigate Da Tubz? Good luck.

    The cause of the ongoing “end of the Internet” is the utter inability of The People to stand up for what they want, and their willingness to eat copious amounts of shit and pay for it. If you use a Kindle, an iWhatever, or Steam, or any other “cloud service” closed platform, you are part of the problem. You can have an Internet completely net neutral, without QoS and packet filtering, shunting or queuing, and if all you are connected to are “cloud services” on corporate farms, you have nothing. If you add to the value of Facebook, LinkedIn, blogger etc. then you are part of the problem.

    Porn and piracy have demonstrated that you can still, after a fashion, propagate information on the net no matter how hard the authorities might try to stop you. What you cannot do is raise awareness, because awareness requires a modicum of interest and initiative in the recipient, and no amount of net neutrality is going to overcame elective cognitive inertia. The People do not want to know, hence they do not ask, and they certainly won’t make it happen.

    As long as US cable TV makes a profit, I don’t think it matters good goddamn whether or not the Internets are turned into another corporate-owned sewer pipe. How many of the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there make any relevant use of the Internet? How important have those 1st Amendment rights been in the last 30 years? How much impact on politics and policies? Right. Pace Derrida, what happens on the blogs stays on the blogs – protest simulacra aren’t protest.

    If anybody want to argue for a revolution, maybe it would be less embarrassing to start with the slogan “the tubz are no longer free”, and try something like unconstitutional, illegal, war, torture, assassination etc. There are plenty of more pressing problems that threaten lives outside and inside the country, and as long as The People can’t muster an outrage over murderous sell-outs like the preemptive health insurance bailout of 2010, or the Great AfPak war for incumbency, I don’t think I give a shit as to who gets to fuck up an increasingly uncompetitive domestic broadband infrastructure even more. In comparison to Asian nations, the US has become a joke – if they want to choke themselves even more by slicing their outdated fiber ever finer, by all means go ahead. I care more about the billions that never get a chance to (not bother to) vote in this blighted nation’s elections, and under the constitution every citizen has the right to vote (by abstention, too) for the effective abolition of the US – which, at this points, begins to sound like an Really Good Idea.

  7. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    This is reminiscent of the way the old Soviet Union worked, with everyone being forced to pretend they don’t know what they absolutely do know, and blind conformity prized over ability.

    These comparisons with the Soviet Union are showing up in many places. Here’s economist James Galbraith writing on the Obama commission yesterday:

    The old Soviet Union had two newspapers, Pravda and Izvestia — Truth and Light — and the saying in Moscow was, “Where there is Truth, there’s no Light. And where there is Light, there’s no Truth.” It’s clear now that the Soviet Union didn’t really end.

    The walls came down, and we became them.

  8. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Link to the Galbraith article: Moment of Lies

  9. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    What are you thankful for this year?

    “I am thankful for the Web. It is an enormous potential equalizer in giving progressives without money comparable input into public debate as the right-wingers with lots of money. In this vein, the Huffington Post’s webhits are going up. The Washington Post’s circulation is going down.” – Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research

    What Leading Progressives Are Thankful For

  10. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 4, 2010

    And the Huffpo is becoming more and more bland and less and less progressive.

  11. tatere permalink
    December 4, 2010

    how long before the rest of the world decides that they’d rather not have the heavy hand of the USA on the root servers? all it would take is agreeing to do something else. i mean, i basically agree with you, but i think it’s more the end of open access for people in this country and not so much the internet as a whole.

    also, to b. – a lot of what you’re saying is true, but to this question – “How many of the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there make any relevant use of the Internet?” the parents might not but their kids sure as hell use it. “relevant”, i couldn’t say.

  12. alyosha permalink
    December 4, 2010

    @b wrote:

    I don’t think it matters good goddamn whether or not the Internets are turned into another corporate-owned sewer pipe. How many of the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there make any relevant use of the Internet? How important have those 1st Amendment rights been in the last 30 years? How much impact on politics and policies? Right. Pace Derrida, what happens on the blogs stays on the blogs – protest simulacra aren’t protest.

    You’ve got a point or two, BUT… the internet was about the only thing that kept me from going mad during the Bush/Cheney years. Nearly everyone around me believed the “up is down” reality/insanity created by BushCo and the rightwing media. It was like waking up in a real-life, coast-to-coast version of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Nearly everyone around me was taken over by the pods. It was a transformative experience, where I finally began to trust my own intuition about what was going on, despite the multi-year madness all around me. And then the blogosphere arose, and isolation ended and my education jumped into high gear.

    The right’s been on an Orwellian campaign for years to destroy language: “liberal”, “socialism”, “fascism”, “class warfare” are all words that have been smeared or inverted almost beyond recognition. If you lack the common terminology to communicate what’s going on, or have to waste mountains of time trying to (re)develop a common language, this only serves the right’s strategy of divide and conquer. Not only do they pit groups of people against each other (eg whites against immigrants), but by destroying language they isolate individuals.

    And so I don’t give a crap about the massive amount of garbage on the internet, or the lack of interest by the majority in using its best aspects to liberate themselves, but I do care about my own ability to connect with others who get what’s going on, and to educate myself.

  13. spartacus permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Big list of Wikileaks mirrors:
    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/79s9r1

    For updates, search Twitter with #imwikileaks
    http://twitter.com/search?q=imwikileaks

  14. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    And the Huffpo is becoming more and more bland and less and less progressive.

    I’ll have to take your word for it because I don’t rely on it for news, and only occasionally visit it when someone else I’m reading provides a link. Baker’s point still stands, which is that the cost of entry to having your voice heard is much less than it was before the arrival of web browsers circa 1995. This has lead to far more people having their voice heard with the cost being that we all have to become news editors, using our brains to decide what is sensible and what is not.

    Of course, many people have taken up the task of being news editors, or as the corporate media outlets like to call them, “news aggregators.” This term is short-hand for “we don’t like competition despite years of preaching it for the middle class” and “we don’t know what we are talking about because we haven’t read any of the investigations or analyses that people have written for the internet” and finally “we don’t want anyone exposing or opposing our biases, partisanship, and incompetence.”

  15. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Big list of Wikileaks mirrors:

    Thank you. Can’t Wikileaks get a fixed IP address? I realize that it’s a bit inconvenient to type in a sequence of digits, but many supporting websites could then publish that IP address. Unless all of the search engines in the world agree not to allow any searches for the term wikileaks, anyone would still be able to look up the address (a defacto DNS).

  16. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    The absurdity, the sheer Orwellian stupidity of this is epitomized by Hilary Clinton telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State. As if anyone who isn’t curious to read what is in the leaks, who doesn’t want to know how diplomacy actually works, is anyone State should hire. In a sane world, the reaction would be the opposite: no one who hadn’t read them would be hired.

    Or, as if the sec. of state of the u.s. should come out against u.s. citizens exercising their freedom of association, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

  17. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    More on the Orwellian nightmare:

    As Glenn Greenwald wrote in his column on the Salon site:

    “On CNN, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the US government had failed to keep all these things secret from him… Then – like the Good Journalist he is – Blitzer demanded assurances that the Government has taken the necessary steps to prevent him, the media generally and the citizenry from finding out any more secrets: ‘Do we know yet if they’ve [done] that fix? In other words, somebody right now who has top secret or secret security clearance can no longer download information onto a CD or a thumb drive? Has that been fixed already?’ The central concern of Blitzer – one of our nation’s most honored ‘journalists’ – is making sure that nobody learns what the US Government is up to.”

    Julian Assange: Wanted by the Empire, Dead or Alive

  18. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    American citizen’s freedoms are on the rack and it just got stretched one or two more notches; how many more notches before it’s completely undone?
    Assange should be afraid, very, very afraid. I see this rhetoric gearing up for a targeted assassination.
    The Swedish charges are a sham. So far England seems to be reluctant to act on the red notice.
    I’m not even in the states but this whole thing is scaring the hell out of me. My own country is no longer recognizable. Nobody, anywhere in the world is safe. The “machine” of empire is working OT.
    What we fail to see is; there is no savior going to come and save us; and we don’t seem able or willing to act in our own best interests.

  19. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 4, 2010

    I think I have a pretty good idea of how the internet in general and especially blogs in specific work. The cost of entry went down, it is about to start going up again. The censorship on major blogs is significant, much of what I write could not be written on most a-list blogs and if it was written on a diary site it would never be front paged. This is not theoretical, I know these people, I have worked for them and with them, I even consider some of them sort-of-friends. It is also not related to traffic, I have never failed to be a top traffic draw on any major blog I have written for and the blogs I edited had substantial increases in traffic during my tenure. The money model for political blogs is only somewhat correlated to traffic. (There are some exceptions, C&L for example.)

    I know the poliblogging business and it is closing down to opinions outside a rather narrow consensus — you can slag Obama now, but could you back in March of 2009? Sure you can always put up a little blog, but no one will read it. The open period when anyone could make it is almost gone. There will be occasional successes, but nothing like the 2000-2005 period.

    Even within the a-list political blogosphere, the blogs are either shedding traffic fast or growing and the number of actual big blogs is shrinking, not growing. The long tail is getting longer.

    Dean Baker, whatever else he may be good for, is not competent to speak on this and is not subject to it since he is a big enough name with opinions which are within the sphere of what it’s acceptable to say. He will always get on a vertical for Huffpo, so of course he thinks it’s great. And if all you want to read is people who are approved of by Arianna Huffington, well, ok, that’s great.

    The internet is moving towards a TV model, that’s what the big players want.

  20. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Assange should be afraid, very, very afraid. I see this rhetoric gearing up for a targeted assassination.

    After hearing his lawyer speak for him earlier this week, I have the impression that he is worried about this. He is in more danger now than the writer Salman Rushdie was in the 1980s.

  21. December 4, 2010

    Assange is the world’s bravest and fiercest advocate for the truth during a time of loud lies.

    Z

  22. December 4, 2010

    anon2525,

    He’s got more powerful people after him than Rushdie had.

    Z

  23. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    The cost of entry went down, it is about to start going up again. The censorship on major blogs is significant, much of what I write could not be written on most a-list blogs and if it was written on a diary site it would never be front paged. This is not theoretical, I know these people, I have worked for them and with them, I even consider some of them sort-of-friends.

    OK. I don’t have any knowledge about this area that you have experience in, and so I’m not going to attempt to contradict it. The situation pre-1995 or pre-2000 was that the corporate media outlets were the gatekeepers who decided who could speak and be heard, and the amount of discussion was far less than it is today. If it is going to go back to that level, it has a long way to fall. I will be interested to see evidence of it happening. At present, and for many years (a decade?), it has been an unremitting fire hose of information blasting away daily.

    Dean Baker, whatever else he may be good for, is not competent to speak on this…

    I don’t know how much he knows about this so I cannot say whether he is competent or not. But I don’t think he was making a detailed observation about “the polyblogging business,” just a general observation about the cost of entry being lower than it was when the corporate media outlets were the only gatekeepers (pre-1995 or even pre-2000). I agree with him on that point. In fact, I don’t think it is disputable. Is the cost going back up? You’re observation is that it is, but that’s not contradicted by the observation that it has dropped substantially in the past 15 years and that it is far better than it was before there was widespread use of the internet and web browsers. If you’re predicting that it will become as bad as it was pre-1995 (write a letter to the wapo editor and get it published — good luck!), then the u.s. (and other?) gov’t. will have to become very fascist indeed.

  24. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    He’s got more powerful people after him than Rushdie had.

    And they want to send a loud message to anyone else who would do this.

    It’s much like the death penalty in the u.s. — little people get put to death for their crimes. Powerful people don’t even get charged with the crime (“Let’s look forward, not back”).

  25. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Correction: “You’re observation is…” should read “Your observation is…”

  26. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    anon2525
    He is in more danger now than the writer Salman Rushdie was in the 1980s.
    =====================================
    That is surely correct; instead of being protected by his/a government (as Rushdie was); our government is hunting him and I should think rendition would be on the table, so-to-speak.

  27. December 4, 2010

    Brian Eno writing in the Guardian in 2003 about propaganda in the USSR vs in the West.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/aug/17/media.davidkelly

    “When I first visited Russia, in 1986, I made friends with a musician whose father had been Brezhnev’s personal doctor. One day we were talking about life during ‘the period of stagnation’ – the Brezhnev era. ‘It must have been strange being so completely immersed in propaganda,’ I said.
    ‘Ah, but there is the difference. We knew it was propaganda,’ replied Sacha.

    That is the difference. Russian propaganda was so obvious that most Russians were able to ignore it. They took it for granted that the government operated in its own interests and any message coming from it was probably slanted – and they discounted it.

    In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective. Its greatest triumph is that we generally don’t notice it – or laugh at the notion it even exists.”

    But increasingly everyone know the emperor has no clothes and the government lies to us. So, we do notice it now. That’s why they’re getting so desperate, I think.

  28. Andre permalink
    December 4, 2010

    I keep thinking of the late Senator (he died in 1974) Wayne Morse of Oregon. He was a conservative Democrat who opposed the Vietnam war from the very beginning. He served four terms as US Senator, so he was no flash in the pan, but a disciplined, well reasoned thorn in the side of the powers that brought us that glorious war. But here’s the thing: he was asked once if he thought the American public could make reasoned decision about foreign policy, and he replied that they very well could and should be listened to because the American public were steeped in common sense, and for the history of our country were the last arbiters of our foreign policy. We have veered well off the beacon Wayne Morse represented, and transparency is simply a few words for the Big O to speachify about. We need a thousand wikileaks laying bare the layers of political mucus that hide untold nefarious and smelly deeds. I as an American citizen want to know what my country is doing, everything my country is doing, and I really don’t care if that upsets the powers that be, including Hillary! They serve at my discretion and their deeds should be in open view.

  29. anon2525 permalink
    December 4, 2010

    I should think rendition would be on the table, so-to-speak.

    Not that they care, but what crime do they charge him with? Those who have said “Treason!” have forgotten that you can’t be a traitor to a country of which you’re not a citizen. And espionage/spying is not applicable either. Clinton didn’t have anything to charge him with besides pissing her and others off.

  30. guest permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Not that I want to defend Hillary (but the recent round of dirt being spread about her makes me wonder if she’s being thrown under the bus for some reason), but the remarks I heard was that folks were being warned not to post any “classified” information on the internet, since that might reflect on their future predilection to mishandle other classified info. But that might have been somone else.

    I have no idea what her motives were, although I doubt she thinks a few college students looking or not looking at this stuff will affect anything/anyone other than those college students. But it was good advice for anyone intending to work for the federal government. When you get hired you will get the background check of your life where they look up your asshole to see if your hat is on straight. And the person doing it could be a rightwing contractor or someone from a nasty intelligence agency. They will NOT be the type of person asking themselves “shouldn’t we be encouraging such employees to be informed about this sort of thing?” But anything they find will pretty much sink your chances of employment.

    That’s the fate of the civil servant in Amerika. Now if your name is Karl Rove or Scooter or Li’l Boots, those rules don’t apply to you.

  31. scruff permalink
    December 5, 2010

    It makes perfect sense to me that Clinton, on behalf of the US government, should be advising would-be civil servants to stay uninformed about the leaks. The fundamental illogic that the government seems to be operating on these days is the idea that if you believe something strongly enough and act as if it is true then you will be successful and reality will react as if your belief were true. This is reflected lower down on the scales of power by the expectation that newbies will be able to accept as fact the beliefs of their superiors and work to make them come true.

    In other words, she’s expressing that the filter the government will apply to applicants is the ability to blindly follow the blind without complaint or causing trouble. Curiosity and practicality are most certainly *not* the traits they’re looking for in new hires. Curious and practical-minded people *cause trouble* for the kinds of people running things.

  32. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    But anything they find will pretty much sink your chances of employment.

    The ghost of Joseph McCarthy thanks you for passing on that “advice.”

    I have no idea what her motives were, although I doubt she thinks a few college students looking or not looking at this stuff will affect anything/anyone other than those college students.

    Apparently, someone at the state dept. who prefers to remain anonymous while threatening advising students does think that.

  33. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    It makes perfect sense to me that Clinton, on behalf of the US government, should be advising would-be civil servants to stay uninformed about the leaks.

    It’s a new era.

    “This is a new era,” she declared at a welcoming ceremony where hundreds of department employees applauded and cheered as she arrived for her first day of work.

    H. Clinton supporters must be so proud.

  34. December 5, 2010

    The cause of the ongoing “end of the Internet” is the utter inability of The People to stand up for what they want, and their willingness to eat copious amounts of shit and pay for it. If you use a Kindle, an iWhatever, or Steam, or any other “cloud service” closed platform, you are part of the problem. You can have an Internet completely net neutral, without QoS and packet filtering, shunting or queuing, and if all you are connected to are “cloud services” on corporate farms, you have nothing. If you add to the value of Facebook, LinkedIn, blogger etc. then you are part of the problem.

    That’s what annoys me about people who wax eloquent about the beauty and transparency of e.g. the iWhatever and/or whatever Apple builds. The beauty and transparency is a glass cage.

  35. guest permalink
    December 5, 2010

    “Apparently, someone at the state dept. who prefers to remain anonymous while threatening/advising students does think that.”

    Anon2525, whether you want to look at it as a advice or a veiled threat or doesn’t change the facts. The people vetting those students will be flagging that kind of activity whether they are “advised” or “threatened” or not. Maybe that anonymous person has seen well qualified people he or she wanted to hire, but was prevented from hiring because the people who domestically spy on us found something. All those agencies are still packed with political hires from the Bush administration who Obama is either too afraid to challenge or just unwilling to challenge. That’s the environment those students will be entering, and if they are not politically conservative, they better start getting used to being careful where the get their information, and careful about not leaving tracks that the planted pols will use against them.

    Kind of laughable that you are insinuating that I am also giving threatening advice. Just makes you look even more foolish.

    If you want to tell people aspiring to work at the State Dept or anywhere else in government to do whatever the hell they want, and don’t tell them the consequences, go ahead. Maybe you think it’s funny that they will have their expensive fancy degrees from Georgetown and will not be able to work for our nefarious government and the evil Hillary. Maybe they shouldn’t. But personally I believe in letting people be informed and make those decisions themselves. And maybe that’s all Hillary and the anonymous person at the agency wanted. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it was good advice, since I’m sure it would never have occurred to a lot of those people that something so public could be used against them.

    So really, take off the tinfoil hat once in a while. Things are bad enough as they are without exaggerating them to absurdities. Anyone who stays informed will hear about this stuff, and Clinton knows it. Only a clintonderangement impaired person could imagine that she thinks it’s important to control the minds of a handful of foreign service students.

  36. sona permalink
    December 5, 2010

    “How many of the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there make any relevant use of the Internet?”

    don’t know the answer to that but then again, of all the books published in any given year, how many of the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there make any relevant use of any one of them when quite a few are freely accessible through libraries?

    is that an argument for doing away with the internet? or books?

    since when have the unemployed, minimum wage, multiple earner multiple job families out there been the determinant for that which consumers want and cherish?

  37. sona permalink
    December 5, 2010

    anybody having problems with accessing wikileaks try any one of these – they all work for me:

    http://88.80.13.160/
    http://213.251.145.96/
    http://wikileaks.ch

  38. sona permalink
    December 5, 2010

    nevr mind nincompoohs like blitzer but to the world the US politicos (clinton, lieberman, feinstein, king ,et al) provide an amusing squawking spectacle of headless chooks running around in circles

  39. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    whether you want to look at it as a advice or a veiled threat or doesn’t change the facts. The people vetting those students will be flagging that kind of activity whether they are “advised” or “threatened” or not.

    “Flagging” what kind of activity? Reading? Writing? These aren’t illegal activities. On the contrary, they are constitutionally protected activities. “Reading” is protected under freedom of association and “writing” is protected under freedom of speech. Anyone “flagging” this “kind of activity” and disqualifying someone from a job in the gov’t. for doing it is violating the law. Shouldn’t you be writing that those people in the state dept. are engaging in illegal “activities”? Shouldn’t you be writing to “warn” them of the consequences of that?

    If you want to tell people aspiring to work at the State Dept or anywhere else in government to do whatever the hell they want, and don’t tell them the consequences, go ahead.

    OK, I will: Students, read whatever you want and write whatever you want. This is the U.S., not N. Korea or some other dictatorship where there are not constitutional guarantees of freedom of association, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

    As far as doing whatever you want, well, there are laws against lots of things that you might do. Some people think that doing something and talking or reading or writing something are the same, but they’re not Americans. Americans believe that people have the right to say what they believe, read what they want, and meet with who they want.

    Maybe that anonymous person…

    Maybe you can come up with hypothetical examples to rationalize all sorts of illegal behavior, such as disqualifying someone from a job in the u.s. gov’t. for exercising their right to free association.

    … but was prevented from hiring because the people who domestically spy on us found something.

    “found something”? That a student read a website? “Be careful, kids! Someone at the state dept. may find out that you read a document, and would then be ‘prevented’ from hiring you.”

    Either way, it was good advice, since I’m sure it would never have occurred to a lot of those people that something so public could be used against them.

    Reading websites and writing what you think about it cannot be used against you. Not legally. But I guess your message here is that what is legal does not matter to employees at the state dept. Good to know.

    So really, take off the tinfoil hat once in a while.

    Ah, the “tinfoil hat” gambit. And with no evidence of any conspiracy theorizing!

    Until this week, it never would have occurred to me that the state dept. would be telling gov’t. employees (or students) not to read documents that were publicly available around the world, both on the internet and printed in numerous newspapers, until they did just that. Oh, and I didn’t need to speculate about some conspiracy that they were doing it. Really.

  40. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    anon2525 PERMALINK
    December 4, 2010
    I should think rendition would be on the table, so-to-speak.
    Not that they care, but what crime do they charge him with? Those who have said “Treason!” have forgotten that you can’t be a traitor to a country of which you’re not a citizen. And espionage/spying is not applicable either. Clinton didn’t have anything to charge him with besides pissing her and others off.
    ===============================
    Since when did rendition involve charges? They want you; they get you. Torture first and charges follow; it’s the pattern set years ago. Habeas corpus is dead and gone; even for U.S. citizens. Be afraid; the calling card of the Fascist’s. We be that/there!

  41. December 5, 2010

    Do you have a link for “Hilary Clinton telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State”?

    I know at least a couple of colleges sent out watch-what-you-read warnings, but did the SoS say — or did her department issue — something on the matter?

  42. December 5, 2010

    I found this:

    The Nov. 30 e-mail says an alumnus at the State Department had contacted the office, saying the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks were “still considered classified.”

    The e-mail said online discourse about the documents “would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information.”

    Not quite a smoking gun with HRC’s fingerprints, but suggestive that it’s department policy.

  43. December 5, 2010

    Oops. “The e-mail said online discourse about the documents ‘would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information.’” should also have been in the quoted section.

  44. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    The e-mail said online discourse about the documents “would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information.”

    That’s “human-resource”-speak. Here’s how a mobster would put it: “That’s a nice career you’ve got going there. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

  45. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    I found this:

    From the article at that link:

    “Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a notice sent out Friday.

    Except that half of the documents disclosed by WL are not classified and another 40% are classified as “confidential”: link

    The New York Times, which first reported the directive, was told by a White House official that it does not advise agencies to block WikiLeaks or other websites on government computer systems. Nor does it bar federal employees from reading news stories about the leaks.

    And yet students who are thinking of careers with the state dept. need to “watch their step” and be good conformists. Or else.

  46. anon2525 permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Then there is this: link

    The Library of Congress was among the institutions that blocked access to WikiLeaks, prompting the whistleblower website to say on its Twitter feed that the move signaled “end times” for the First Amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing free speech.

    In a post on the Library of Congress blog, communications director Matt Raymond confirmed that access to Wikileaks was being blocked and rejected accusations of censorship.

    “The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information,” Raymond said.

    “In other words, the site is being blocked not out of censorship, but because providing the information that is there is illegal.

    “The Library is prohibited both by federal law and our own regulations from providing public access to classified information,” he added.

    Matt Raymond, proud graduate of the Kafkaesque School of Gov’t. Bureaucracy

    Dear Matt, The law that prohibits the releasing classified documents to the public cannot be applied to documents that have been released and are widely available. Your application of this law to publicly available documents is an unconstitutional attempt to restrict the press, speech, and association. For your own sake, please see a doctor about getting your head removed from your ass.

  47. piine permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Hillary didn’t say it. It was an alumnus which is good advice as people do check your facebook and twitter presence on the Internet. Surely, Hillary won’t be doing the interviewing and hiring of these folks. And of course she could leave State and it would be someone else’s problem.

  48. beowulf permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Dean Baker is great, so is Galbraith. In fact, those two were up on the Hill two years ago lobbying against Congress approving the bank bailout. In fact, a bipartisan group of Members who took their message to heart, the bank bailout lost the first vote in the House and only won the second after Pelosi and the Chamber of Commerce whipped their respective caucuses. Two Californians led the effort against the TARP bill, Brad Sherman on the Democratic side and that “radical” (see last thread) Darell Issa on the Republican side.

  49. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 5, 2010

    The key person whipping for TARP was not Pelosi. Pelosi had stated she would not pass it unless an equal proportion of Republicans voted for it, they refused and it was dead. Obama then came down and said he wanted it passed and he personally twisted arms, hard. I know, I was following it real time when it occured as it was my job to do so. The problem with Pelosi is that she does things she knows are wrong because she wants to be a good team player. Her instincts are better than Obama’s, but she obeys him. More the fool her.

    I eagerly await Hilary Clinton speaking out against this sort of intimidation on behalf of her department.

  50. December 5, 2010

    Huh?? I’m not sure I’m following your logic here. The cables were released and neither the State Department or any entity of the US government made any attempt to shut down wikileaks before or immediately after the cables were published. Soooo, actually, it looks like Hillary Clinton is not the pro-communist Isvestia svengali you are implying that she is. Quite the opposite. All of the actions that have taken place against Assange and wikileaks have occured after the State Department cats were out of the bag. In fact, it was Assange’s threat to expose Bank of America which seems to have triggered a backlash. After all, the State Department knew the cables were coming. Have known for a long time now. Long enough to have taken these steps prior to their release and it did… nothing.
    As for lives lost, yeah, I think lives might be in jeopardy. People who interacted with state department officials could be in danger for supplying information. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist for people with bad intentions to figure out who they were.
    Look, I understand what Assange was up to. His is one theory of toppling secret governments. But it’s only one theory among many. He knows the risks. That’s why he’s in hiding and has been for months. It’s why he left an “insurance policy”. Amazon doesn’t have to host him nor does any other ISP. He’s free to try to usurp the world and the world is free to try to stop him from doing something possibly very destructive.
    I just wish he’d spilled the beans on the bankers first. That would have had more lasting impact.
    Oh, yeah, and the constant thwapping on Hillary Clinton by so many guys in the world is starting to look like a pathological parody of itself. Whatever happens, it’s all Hillary’s fault. Meanwhile, she’s handling this crisis quite well and providing stability and cool leadership under pressure. What the rest of the world admires, some guys just can’t stomach. We don’t know why but the better she looks to the rest of us, the more nauseating she is to the guys.
    What gives? Can’t you find the real bad actors? Does she make you feel impotent? Must you always take it out on this particular woman? Why is that? Enquiring minds want to know. It’s fascinating in a voyeuristic way. It’s like watching their heads burst from stress induced apoplexy. Very ugly but we can’t look away.

  51. beowulf permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Pelosi had stated she would not pass it unless an equal proportion of Republicans voted for it, they refused and it was dead. Obama then came down and said he wanted it passed and he personally twisted arms, hard. I know, I was following it real time when it occured as it was my job to do so.

    That’s interesting Ian. Which begs the question, why in God’s name didn’t McCain seize the moment and run against Bush and Obama by coming out against the bailout? Now that would have been fairly mavericky. His campaign was flatlining from the moment Lehman declared bankruptcy so its not like he had anything to lose.

  52. anon2525 permalink
    December 6, 2010

    anybody having problems with accessing wikileaks try any one of these –

    The amount of support they are getting in their effort is getting pretty large:

    http://wikileaks.ch/mirrors.html

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a list of mirrors that long before.

  53. December 6, 2010

    riverdaughter,

    “Does she (hillary) make you feel impotent? ”

    You know, the more I think about it, I’ve never gotten an erection when I’ve thought of hillary. Hmmm …

    Z

  54. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 6, 2010

    Let’s cool the Hilary wars. My bad for naming her when it was some unnamed schmucks. She should, imo, tell people that it’s BS, but no matter. She should also let it be known, through the rumor mill, that she opposes what is being done about Wikileaks. There are points beyond which being a good soldier does not cover complicity. And yes, so should other cabinet ministers, but yes, I do expect more of Clinton.

    No one in the administration is covering themselves with glory on this. They look like a bunch of delusional authoritarian thugs, which is how they are acting.

    Beowulf – McCain started to. His original plan seems to have been to come out hard against it, as you may recall. Then suddenly he was for it. I can only guess his chain got yanked, hard, by the people bankrolling him. His first instinct was correct, however, and he should have told them to shove it. It was his chance to win the election, things were still in play, and he blew it.

  55. December 6, 2010

    Jeez, i can understand that James Galbraith doesn’t speak Russian, but i assume he has access to the internet. His flubbing of the Izvestia translation totally ruins the joke.

    It means “news” in this context (from the verb “to notify”). So the USSR’s two main sources of printed information were “The Truth” and “The News”.

    The joke is, “There’s no news in The Truth and no truth in The News.” Yes it is totally applicable to the United States today. It’s not the only comparison that’s applicable….

  56. someofparts permalink
    December 6, 2010

    You know, I’m just going to stop worrying about my health. I won’t be around long enough to die of some illness because long before that happens I am going to spontaneously combust from sheer outrage.

  57. beowulf permalink
    December 6, 2010

    His first instinct was correct, however, and he should have told them to shove it. It was his chance to win the election, things were still in play, and he blew it.

    Yeah, his sharpest aide in 2000 was Mike Murphy, who felt obliged to sit out the in 2008 primaries because two former clients (McCain and Romney) were competing. Once McCain locked the nomination in the Spring, he screwed up not bringing Murphy to run the show. Its literally impossible McCain could have run a worse general election campaign (from VP selection, lack of any positive message, flubbing the bank bailout). The most charitable explanation is that his campaign was run by Democratic sleeper agents. :o)

  58. anon2525 permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Chomsky signs Australian letter of support for Assange

    link

    Noting the “increasingly violent rhetoric” directed towards Australian-born Assange, the besieged founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, the signatories said there were “grave concerns” for his safety.
    “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,” says the letter, published on the ABC website.

  59. Katharine permalink
    December 10, 2010

    Y’know, I have only one qualm with your post:

    Do not equate doing a ballsy but righteous thing like releasing the Wikileaks stuff with doing actual reckless, stupid shit.

  60. Katharine permalink
    December 10, 2010

    Though if the dude did in fact rape those two girls, he deserves time in the slammer for it and worldwide condemnation as a monstrous shithole rapist.

  61. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 14, 2010

    Gee, let me see. If I was charged with creating a rational to end the “Open” Internet, I could think of no better pretext than Wikileaks and Assange. The tactic seems oddly familiar…..think Al Qaeda and bin Laden. I’m of the disposition that if it looks, smells and feels like horse shit, then it’s, for all practical purposes, horse shit. Keep your eye on the ball. Wikileaks and Assange are the pretext. Net Neutrality and Transparency are the ball.

    Ask yourself this, though. We have all these leaked documents through Wikileaks, and yet what now? Seriously, all of this incrimination and nothing to do with it. You can’t do anything with it because this system we operate in can only render corrupt outcomes….because the system is, by it’s nature, corrupt. This is why I laugh when well-meaning people think they can solve the myriad symptoms/outcomes of this corrupt system by petitioning the guardians of this corrupt system for redress. It’s ludicrous, and yet intelligent people believe it, and continue to act in this way, even though it is futile and a complete waste of energy and effort.

  62. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    The absurdity, the sheer Orwellian stupidity of this is epitomized by the State Department telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State. As if anyone who isn’t curious to read what is in the leaks, who doesn’t want to know how diplomacy actually works, is anyone State should hire. In a sane world, the reaction would be the opposite: no one who hadn’t read them would be hired.

    From Ian Welsh’s mouth to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs:

    In early 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey wrote to Hillary Clinton to prepare her for her visit with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. The cable is a model of diplomatic acumen, providing a character sketch of Gheit (“smart, urbane with a tendency to lecture”) and offering a series of options that Gheit might push Clinton on (such as an invitation to the Gaza Donors’ Conference in Cairo). Scobey, a career foreign services officer, knows her business. No wonder that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs asks its trainee diplomats to study the cables “and get a hang of the brevity with which thoughts and facts have been expressed”.

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