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Beavah

Wikileaks

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Yah, so I confess I'm havin' some trouble trying to figure out what I feel about Wikileaks.

 

On the one hand, I think publishing some of the material that they did was just irresponsible, and damaged U.S. interests. Of course, they aren't a U.S. company, eh? At least their founder and CEO isn't a U.S. citizen. So they don't really have an interest in or moral obligation to protect U.S. interests.

 

On the other hand, I think da claim that they endangered lives is a bit of a stretch, at least from what I've seen of the releases so far. And the widespread denial of service attacks on their web site really are criminal. Makes me uncomfortable that our government may be involved in that illegal activity, directly or indirectly. That impression isn't helped by random Senators trying to pressure service providers into suppressing the documents. As a Senator yeh took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and the publishing of documents is clearly protected by the constitution. As a private citizen they can make that complaint like any of us, but they should not be doin' it in their public persona.

 

And I have to admit that while most of the information I find to be ordinary or just funny (callin' Putin the "alpha dog"), there are some things that are really interestin' where the disclosure really does help Americans make informed decisions about the actions and competence of elected and appointed leaders or options that are being debated publicly. That kind of transparency is important.

 

So I'm oddly conflicted. Now, I reckon there's a young Army pfc who is headed for a long term in Leavenworth, and rightly so. At the same time, I'm lookin' forward to da release of banking documents on Wikileaks next year because I think it will give us a good insight into how much fraud and malfeasance was goin' on compared with just blithering incompetence.

 

So what's a good citizen to think? We need leakers, whistleblowers, and a free press for the health and survival of democracy. And yet, in a few things, there should be some restraint and circumspection, because especially in diplomacy there is a genuine need for private, confidential frankness.

 

B

 

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I can't say I have a real opinion either, because both sides seem to have some points.

 

Yes government transparency should be important, but at what extent does the government lose its effectiveness from disclosures.

 

I think the most interesting part of it is that Assange has essentially become a villain worthy of a James Bond film, complete with really cool underground lair!

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Mega Dittos, Beavah.

 

What I find interesting is the same folk who are calling for this Army PFC's execution for treason, are the same folk who were defending the leaking of Valorie Plame's secret CIA identity.

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Yah, the even more disturbing thing is the timing of the criminal complaint by the Swedes, eh? The allegations from what has been reported are really quite thin. I sincerely doubt any U.S. prosecutor would bother to pursue the case. Certainly not to the point of tryin' to issue international arrest warrants. I'd lay odds that if yeh scratched the surface of that you'd find several layers of "inappropriate influence" on both the complainants and the justice authorities.

 

That gets kinda scary, eh? Yeh don't ever want to allow vendetta prosecutions by an angered government.

 

It's one of these areas where I disagreed with the initial action by Wikileaks, but the response is so clearly illegal and over-the-top that I'm more upset by that. Turns out that the cyber attacks also downed the DNS host in New Hampshire, a legitimate business with a lot of other customers who were affected. If I were the FBI, I'd be lookin' at the origins of that criminal activity as a first priority. If upset foreign powers are launchin' cyber attacks on U.S. businesses, that's an issue.

 

B(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Gern,

 

The PFC released classified documents which would constitute treason if it aided the enemy. I have no sympathy for him.

 

Valerie Plame's identity was released after the period of a several years. I have heard no cogent reasoning that would indicate that the release of her identity aided the enemy in any manner so the release was not treason (it is difficult to prove that someone provided comfort to the enemy by releasing a former agent's identity). That said, releasing her name as a political payback is not right and I condemn the action.

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If leaking Plame's identity potentially endangered her or any of her associates, would you consider that treason? Is that better or worse than the PFC's treason?

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I think that the chief difference between the State Dept. Cables and Valerie Plame is that the Cables have decidedly more far-reaching consequences. Ms. Plame was a single agent with only so many connections; these cables encompass a much wider purview. That being said, I think, speaking as a Conservative, not a Republican (and therfore without any feelings of fraternal loyalty for persons like Scooter Libby), that the releasing of Ms. Plame's identity did have the potential to damage US interests, and therefore all those responsible should have faced the harshest penalties, much as I think that the PFC responsible for the Cable releases should also face the harshest penalties.

 

Now, the interesting question in this matter is "How do we classify Mr. Assange?" There are those who feel that Mr. Assange should be named as a terrorist. It's interesting that BS-87 compared him to a Bond villian, because I am reminded of the media mogul Elliot Carver from "Tomorrow Never Dies", who had commented that "Words are the new weapons". In releasing the cables for all the world to see, Mr. Assange has essentially thrown a gas tank onto the campfire of international relations. Now, in some instances, the effects will be minimal: for instance, the Iranians already knew that the Saudis didn't like them, and Pyongyang already knew that Beijing considered it to be an inferior. However, other reactions are sure to be violent; I don't envy the position of the Yemeni government right now. All in all, though, the chief effect that Mr. Assange has had is to compromise the diplomatic position of the United States, which then, in my view, makes him an adversary to this country.

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The only problem with the Valerie Plame analogy is that Richard Armitage was never prosecuted for the leak.

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Though I stated above that releasing Plame's name was wrong, what was the crime? Her identity was no longer protected by the law. Had her identity been released a couple of years earlier, it would have been a crime. That is why no one was prosecuted. Scooter Libby was found guilty of not saying exactly the same thing in tens of times on the same testimony. Plame herself apparently acted in a criminal manner to get her husband a position and was never prosecuted for a possible crime. Revealing Plame's identity was wrong and should never occurred especially for the likely political reasons.

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It didn't take long to get back to comparing everything to George Bush, did it? As to the issue Beavah raised: Wikileaks is foreign entity that poses a threat to the U.S. We should deal with them as terrorists. The young man who leaked the classified material, if convicted, would be guilty of treason. The penalty for that is death.

 

Will we do any of that? Not likely.

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Yep, Scooter was prosecuted for a process crime. Lesson learned, plead the fifth or testify "I can't recall." Of course the truth behind Plame didn't fit the template, and probably 90 percent of people assume Scooter leaked her name.........

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What it boils down to is that the news is on Assange and Wikileaks, who are not the problem. They are a foreign group of volunteers running a whistle blower website, and reporting on the documents that have been sent to them.

 

It is irresponsible for them to seem to have a vendetta against the United States, but it is not irresponsible for them to report on leaked documents. Journalists should report on whatever large pieces of information they come across, especially primary sources, and especially those that may show evidence of corruption or deception.

 

The focus right now should not be on Wikileaks or Assange. The focus should be on finding out who stole these documents, like in the case with the PFC, and sentencing them to treason. I'm not saying whether or not that's just. I'm saying that that is what a self-preserving government should do. Someone who is willing to cause such an uproar by releasing confidential goverment documents should be willing to die for their cause. This should mean that you'd better be darn sure that what your releasing shows genuine proof of misconduct on that government's part.

 

That's where the current situation gets fuzzy. It doesn't seem like this leak is showing real misconduct, so much as just candid opinions of our diplomats. Are those not valuable? That those opinions and conversations are now public shows we're not dealing with a whistleblower, we're dealing with a terrorist.

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Yah, Kahuna, I agree that Wikileaks is a foreign entity not friendly to the U.S.

 

But I think calling them "terrorists" is absurd.

 

They aren't out blowing up innocent civilians for a cause.

 

They just shone a spotlight on what members of our government are really doing and saying. They didn't steal the information themselves, they just published what they received widely (after giving our State Department an opportunity to ask that individual items be withheld and taking at least some time to redact sections that they felt might endanger individuals).

 

At some point, character is what you do in private when you think no one else is watching. If our government officials are embarrassed or our interests compromised when what we do in private is made public, what does that say about our character?

 

So far I've found many of the Wikileaks documents actually support our government's position in many areas, including our hard-line approach to Iran and our unwillingness to deal with North Korea. Wasn't it interestin' that they showed Obama abandoned his "engage Iran" dialog as soon as he got into office?

 

So Assange and Wikileaks did the proper job of the Press in a democracy, eh? They shone a spotlight on government actions and behavior. If he was a U.S. citizen or resided in the U.S., he'd receive the full protection of our Constitution.

 

As for the young private, I think they're goin' to have a challenge makin' a conviction on anything with what I think they've got, but if they do it'll be for releasing confidential documents. Again, the notion that he is guilty of "terrorism" is just absurd. We're throwin' around that word the way Joe McCarthy used to throw around "communist", just to express our displeasure.

 

As to "treason", they won't even come close to makin' a case for treason, which as yeh know from the Constitutions requires the statement of two or more witnesses to the overt act.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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That's basically what I said...

 

The PFC - probably not a terrorist, and he may even be a whistleblower

 

He released some disturbing things about the Rules of Engagement...

 

The Diplomatic Documents Leaker - probably a terrorist, and one only bent on embarrassing the US

 

Should he face capital punishment for it?... probably

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