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1 shutdown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 12:48:10pm

WikiLeaks is not a "promising [...] internet-driven institution". It is the blunt tool of a rogue political activist with more ulterior motives than can be accounted for in the brief time I have available to comment here. WikiLeaks is undifferentiated in its topics, subjects, objectives and targets. Unlike the targeted investigative journalism of the Woodward / Deep Throat era, Assange aims simply to reveal everything about anything. That is simply political arson, no more.

2 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 12:58:13pm

re: #1 imp_62

Congratulations on winning the Who Can Use More Loaded Terms Contest that you are presumably involved in.

3 shutdown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:01:36pm

re: #2 Barrett Brown

Congratulations on winning the Who Can Use More Loaded Terms Contest that you are presumably involved in.

Wow, a constructive response to serious commentary. You must be a heck of a journalist with that thin skin.

4 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:07:31pm

re: #3 imp_62

I'm not a journalist, sweetheart. And I don't consider your comment to have included any constructive commentary whatsoever insomuch as that it was brimming with inexact terminology, loaded phrases, and demonstrably incorrect assertions. If you want a serious response, write something that merits it.

5 shutdown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:10:09pm

And condescending, too. A real winner. I am done here.

6 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:14:45pm

re: #5 imp_62

NO COME BACK I LOVE YOU

7 Killgore Trout  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:18:48pm

Downdinged. Sorry, I just can't see any potential value or nobility in Wikileaks, their ideology, or the hackers who attack legitimate businesses for refusing to engage in illegal activity by assisting Wikileaks.

8 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:26:11pm

re: #7 Killgore Trout

Let me ask you this; what if Shell were being attacked at this point? Would you oppose that as well?

9 Gus  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:30:21pm

There's nothing admirable about leaking 1000s of pages of classified documents to the global population many of which have already fallen into the hands of those intent on destroying Western civilization.

It is equally troubling when this same outfit blackmails the United State of America under threat of releasing even more classified documents.

If "the traditional outlets" have failed this is a poor alternative. Releasing said documents in this anarchist manner has no focus and no design only to deconstruct long established diplomatic and military protocols and is largely fed by the leftist orthodoxy of anti-Americanism.

Journalistic anarchy (and they are hiding behind a journalistic facade) is anarchy by any other name. I entrust my leaders to keep some things secret from other nations and that includes diplomatic and military information.

While it may seem "cool" to many people and it may make for a trendy "fashion statement" Wikileaks and their supporters are playing with fire. And if Wikileaks goes down with these recent events they will have no one to blame but themselves.

10 Killgore Trout  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:38:03pm

re: #8 Barrett Brown

Let me ask you this; what if Shell were being attacked at this point? Would you oppose that as well?

Attacked by hackers? Yes, I'd oppose that. It's illegal for people to take it upon themselves to shut down websites of legitimate companies.

11 Gus  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 1:41:42pm

re: #10 Killgore Trout

Attacked by hackers? Yes, I'd oppose that. It's illegal for people to take it upon themselves to shut down websites of legitimate companies.

Now let's consider an extremely long and pronounced hacking attack on Shell. Shell is openly traded and it has many investors. Some of which are tied to pension and retirement funds.

12 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 2:00:35pm

re: #10 Killgore Trout

If you still consider Shell to be a legitimate company after yesterday's revelations, I guess I'll just say that everyone is entitled to his opinion and leave it at that.

Sorry everyone disliked the post.

13 Charles Johnson  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 2:25:25pm

Barrett: I think you make a very good case for the need for something like Wikileaks, and I agree with a lot of your points. And the Shell stuff really is unconscionable banana republic BS that needs to be exposed.

But I'm not sure Wikileaks itself, and Julian Assange in particular, are the best way for this needed whistle-blowing function to be expressed. The problem for me, and I think for a lot of people, is that Assange wears his leftist/anarchist politics on his sleeve. As you note in your piece, he titled that video release "Collateral Murder" - and that's a pretty good indication of his own biases. And it's even more revealing when, as you note, the video itself was lacking much-needed context that made the title look even more like the propaganda it was.

There are a lot of issues around this, but if you can't trust the person and the organization that purports to be the whistle-blower, that's a very real concern.

Assange doesn't make it easy for me to support him either, when he uses thuggish tactics like threatening to release a 'doomsday file.' That's basically extortion by any other name.

You can say that his own biases don't affect the revelations from leaked documents, and to an extent that's true - but especially after the video issue, I personally don't trust Assange or Wikileaks to be scrupulous and on the level with whatever information they obtain.

14 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 2:33:29pm

re: #12 Barrett Brown

If you still consider Shell to be a legitimate company after yesterday's revelations, I guess I'll just say that everyone is entitled to his opinion and leave it at that.

Sorry everyone disliked the post.

Some dirty laundry needs to be aired. Shell cables is a good example. So are the cables about meddling in regard the prosecution of CIA operatives. But how can the the whole release justified?

15 Killgore Trout  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 2:39:53pm

re: #13 Charles

I think the press does a decent job with handling leaked information fairly responsibly. I don't think a wikileaks type organization is needed. I find it morally reprehensible to see so much support for somebody as reckless as Assange. I see it as a childish reaction by people with a very unrealistic view of how the world works.
I have equal disdain for the vigilantes from Anonymous. What they are doing is immoral, illegal and incredibly stupid.

16 Charles Johnson  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 2:50:36pm

re: #15 Killgore Trout

Well, that's a little harsher than I put it, but I basically agree. One problem with a blunt instrument like these massive document dumps is that blunt instruments are mostly good for smashing things. And that's a paraphrase of something Assange wrote - he said the entire world diplomatic structure needs to be smashed. Classic anarchist ideology.

In the long run one of the biggest effects from this will be tighter restrictions on information, especially in totalitarian states like China -- where the need for free information is even greater. The Wikileaks massive dump approach is counter-productive, if the goal is to produce reform. If the goal is to just fuck shit up, then it works fine.

17 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 3:22:42pm

re: #13 Charles

Charles, I appreciate your take, but I have to take issue with the "doomsday file" thing as "extortion." He has a file which will be released upon any stint of incarceration or assassination. I was covering Wikileaks long before the "legitimate" media figured out that there was something worth covering and remember quite well when Assange was first harassed by U.S. intelligence officials a few weeks before the release of the Afghan tape - which, though presented wrongly, as I noted, was a necessary glimpse into the reality of what we are doing long after the degenerate "American public" decided that they were tired of thinking about the conflicts they'd started and now wanted to focus on the economy and mega mosques. I mean, obviously the video didn't do much in terms of changing policy, nor will the Shell revelations prompt the public at large to take any action whatsoever. The revelations from a few weeks back that Rumsfeld et al were planning the Iraq War not long after 9/11 and were actually jotting down various justifications that could be intentionally brought about in order to set such a war in motion. Incredibly, there has been more "serious discussion" about arresting Anons and assassinating Julian Assange than there has been in regards to trying Bush administration officials such as Dick Cheney with crimes. If the rule of law is applied selectively and in such a way as to allow Shell partial control of the Nigerian state and thus further prevent that state from catering to the needs of its people, and in such a way as that the powerful may commit any number of crimes in the course of launching a poorly-executed war and not only stay out of court but also go on to speak to corporate audiences in exchange for huge fees - whereas meanwhile a 16-year-old kid in The Netherlands is snatched up in 24 hours for DDOSing a corporate web site - then those who consider the world's governments to be a legitimate arbiters of justice will have to accept that some of us do not agree.

Either the U.S. government is the client of its people and corporate citizens and acts in accordance to their will - in which case it is those people and corporate citizens who are responsible for the crimes of that government, and thus ought not to act so surprised when a couple of their websites are being disrupted - or it is not, in which case an attack on a couple of corporate websites are the least of their worries (which is not to say that they wouldn't put those at the top of their list anyway and perhaps get around to the government thing during a commercial break).

At any rate, that is where I am in my life after having seen what I've seen.

18 Obdicut  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 7:38:50pm

re: #17 Barrett Brown

Sergey is actually making a great point when he says:

re: #14 Sergey Romanov

Some dirty laundry needs to be aired. Shell cables is a good example. So are the cables about meddling in regard the prosecution of CIA operatives. But how can the the whole release justified?

It's precisely this. You're criticizing people for not paying attention to the Shell files; the reason they're not being paid attention to is because of all the other crap that Wikileaks dumped at the same time. You're raging against traditional journalists for falling down and not exposing stuff; but why aren't you raging against Wikileaks for burying the Nigerian story in amongst petty cables about who doesn't like who?

The shell stuff is terrible. Not really surprising to people who know neo-colonialism isn't dead, but absolutely terrible. It deserves to be front-page news.

Instead, Wikileaks and Assange are front-page news, and I think that's what Assange wants. If you read his stated goals, it's not for the US to take actions against companies like shell, but for governments to become so paranoid that they collapse. I don't think that's an actual effect that Wikileaks will have, but, if it was, how would that be a good? Given that the actual effect that Wilileaks is having at the moment is to, in general, discredit the leaking of documents by doing it so profligately, how is it a good?

This is about communication. Wikileaks is failing to communicate effectively.

19 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 8:02:07pm

As someone who has worked in the media for 15 years and who covered not only Wikileaks but also the manner in which Wikileaks promptly began to be covered by the media and how the perceptions of that institution came about, I can tell you that your assertion is absolutely false. It also doesn't help that he was accused of rape in what some American intel vets believe to be an intel operation. You may recall that he made the mistake of going on CNN a month ago and the interviewer wanted to talk about his rape charges and tell him about how much focus there is on him rather than ask about what was actually being released. I don't mean that you have to bow to my awesome authority, but you haven't provided any evidence of what you claim, so I'm still kind of inclined to go with my judgement on this.

20 Obdicut  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 8:04:46pm

re: #19 Barrett Brown

Who are you talking to?

21 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 8:12:06pm

re: #20 Obdicut

Sorry, I was talking to you.

22 Obdicut  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 8:25:25pm

re: #21 Barrett Brown

Okay. I made multiple assertions, so I'm not sure which one you're referring to when you say that my assertion is false. I'm going to assume that it's my assertion that the scale of the document dump is the main reason why the individual stories contained are not getting the publicity they deserve.

I fully agree that the mass majority of the media are not in the least bit interested in reporting on issues of significance like Shell. I definitely stated it badly when I said that Assange was front-page news instead of Shell, as if Shell would have been front-page news without him. Shell would have been front-page on a few publications, not very many. The old media wouldn't have responded well. Murray Kempton is dead and ain't coming back no more.

However, I stand by my assertion that Assange's philosophy of taking down governments by increasing their conspiracy is something that interferes with Wikileaks actually drawing attention to any story in particular. Sure, the old media wouldn't pick it up for the most part, but it would have higher visibility if it were one of a few coherent stories released, rather than a mass.

You appear to be arguing that Wikileaks is an example of an institution to replace the old media; to me, Wikileaks is a good example of what not to do to replace the old media. It's a way the new institutions could be just as untrustworthy and fickle as the old.

Man, I miss Murray Kempton. And I never even knew him.

23 Barrett Brown  Thu, Dec 9, 2010 9:07:16pm

re: #22 Obdicut

I was referring to your claim that it is Assange and Wikileaks who have caused the tendency of the media to focus on personality, which is something for which I have seen no evidence. Regarding them putting out the Shell story along with other things, I would simply note that they have 250,000 documents and have thus far released about two percent of those. There are going to be quite a few other stories. In order to do what you seem to want them to do in terms of ensuring that the media focuses on the important ones - something they have been disinclined to do anyway in regards to a great number of tremendously stories that have come out without involvement from Wikileaks - they would have to extend this release over a period of years. Even now they will be doing so over the course of several months. They do it like this because it is better to have access to information about the actual geopolitical situation sooner rather than later, and thus they had to strike a medium between releasing it in such a way that one can follow it - and I haven't had any problems following the major revelations despite being a single person as opposed to a news station with a budget in the tens of millions - and releasing it in such a way as that it can be considered and acted upon in a timely manner by the world's citizenry. Does this make sense? Meanwhile, I'm not arguing that Wikileaks should "replace" the media, but rather to supplement it with a great deal of data that has not damaged "national security" so much as it has revealed unforgivable acts by a great number of powerful entities.

24 Obdicut  Fri, Dec 10, 2010 12:53:00am

re: #23 Barrett Brown

I was referring to your claim that it is Assange and Wikileaks who have caused the tendency of the media to focus on personality, which is something for which I have seen no evidence.

You don't think you have seen any evidence that Assange enjoys the limelight on Wikileaks, that he's exerted an amount of control that had made others on the project deeply annoyed, etc.?

In order to do what you seem to want them to do in terms of ensuring that the media focuses on the important ones - something they have been disinclined to do anyway in regards to a great number of tremendously stories that have come out without involvement from Wikileaks - they would have to extend this release over a period of years.

I actually shouldn't have been talking about the media focusing on it, but people focusing on it. Given that your claim is that Wikileaks represents something that will be effective even with a moribund media, the efficacy of Wikileaks at getting stories into the media is semi-moot. The measurement is how well Wikileaks gets the story into the minds of the public. You've very rightly acknowledged that the ideological bent of Wikileaks shown in the edited video is something that harms this new institutions credibility and effectiveness; I'm saying that its release of tons of stuff that's pure drivel and gossip is also harmful in the same way.

They do it like this because it is better to have access to information about the actual geopolitical situation sooner rather than later, and thus they had to strike a medium between releasing it in such a way that one can follow it - and I haven't had any problems following the major revelations despite being a single person as opposed to a news station with a budget in the tens of millions - and releasing it in such a way as that it can be considered and acted upon in a timely manner by the world's citizenry.

I don't see any such balance being struck, though. I think, with journalism, that making good representative cases is more important than making every case. I think Wikileaks isn't even making any cases; they're simply publishing information with a sort of 'hint hint' attitude, leaving the public to make up their own minds. I do not think the public, the one we actually have, is going to be able to pick and choose the important information from this glut and act on it. I think the job of the journalist-- one thing the media is failing so badly on right now-- is to highlight the important stories in a way that makes them relevant.

And one final thought-- how many 4channers and Anons do you think give a shit about Nigeria?

25 Barrett Brown  Fri, Dec 10, 2010 8:26:32am

re: #24 Obdicut

And one final thought-- how many 4channers and Anons do you think give a shit about Nigeria?

A lot of them, insomuch as that Gregg Housh spent his own time and money to create and maintain a website that highlights effective but low-visibility charities, 0v.org, and asked me and my organization to help get it off the ground by wrapping it into our own Africa Development Program under Project PM. He is one of two active Anons that I've known well enough to have a sense of his priorities; the other, Sean Carasov, killed himself a month ago, after having recently had his life and career potential damaged by way of prosecution stemming from his efforts against the Church of Scientology. Obviously, not every Anon spends his spare time trying to save the lives of people he's never met, but the fact is that I have several other Anons who have inquired about assisting with the various programs I'm overseeing. I can't say that about many other groups.

These aren't just people who "give a shit about things; these are people who risk their own well-being and dedicate their time and effort to get things done.

26 Obdicut  Fri, Dec 10, 2010 9:58:44am

re: #25 Barrett Brown

Obviously, not every Anon spends his spare time trying to save the lives of people he's never met, but the fact is that I have several other Anons who have inquired about assisting with the various programs I'm overseeing. I can't say that about many other groups.

How is 'several' equivalent to 'a lot'?

These aren't just people who "give a shit about things; these are people who risk their own well-being and dedicate their time and effort to get things done.

I'm sorry, but that's not really that rare an attribute. It's rare to do it in order to help Nigerians, certainly, but it seems like you're ascribing noble motives to all of Anonymous. That doesn't ring true with my experience with them, certainly.

Now this:

[Link: www.slashgear.com...]

Is excellent, if real. That is what they should have been doing from the start. It also happens to be ethical.

Do you understand why I'd much rather see Anonymous doing something like that than DDOSing various websites?

27 Jeff In Ohio  Fri, Dec 10, 2010 11:11:25am

re: #25 Barrett Brown

A lot of them, insomuch as that Gregg Housh spent his own time and money to create and main0v.org, and asked me and my organization to help get it off the ground by wrapping it into our own Africa Development Program under Project PM.

Can you point me to more information on these - ov.org (which is not coming up for me) and your Africa Development Program under Project PM? My wife, as part of her job in a large consumer products company, works with an NGO on water purification in Kenya. I'm always skimming for resources for her.

28 Barrett Brown  Fri, Dec 10, 2010 11:40:31am

re: #27 Jeff In Ohio

It's 0v.org, as in zero v. Here's something on our Africa project:

[Link: networkedblogs.com...]

You can e-mail me at barriticus@gmail.com for more info.


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