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WikiLeaks' Daniel Schmitt Speaks 154

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the difference-makers dept.
Lars Sobiraj submitted an interview with Daniel Schmitt of WikiLeaks. "He encourages all readers and warns his opponents — WikiLeaks has the means to make our society better, to create a world which stands united and strong against abuse — locally and nationally as well as globally. Modern, fast, world-wide technology makes it possible. In the interview, Daniel explains in detail how this will be done, with the help of WikiLeaks and all its supporters."
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WikiLeaks' Daniel Schmitt Speaks

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  • that SonicWall blocks the article site from the current hotspot where I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and a bagel before work.

  • by pzs (857406) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:13AM (#28594127)

    I don't think the Slashdot crowd should need convincing that Wikileaks is a force for good. However, passive support won't be enough for such a contentious organisation, so do what I did and show them some love [wikileaks.org].

    (Hmm, I just noticed that PayPal donation is currently down, which is rather awkward...)

    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:27AM (#28594267)

      (Hmm, I just noticed that PayPal donation is currently down, which is rather awkward...)

      One would hope it's because they got slashdotted with donations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Presto Vivace (882157)
      WikiLeaks has the means to make our society better, to create a world which stands united and strong against abuse â" locally and nationally as well as globally. It could just as easily be a place for saboteurs and rumor mongers.
      • It could just as easily be a place for saboteurs and rumor mongers.

        Not different from the rest of the internets.

      • by Kagura (843695)

        Some Wikileaks donaters' info was posted to Wikileaks.

        I'd like to see WikiLeaks post a leak of everyone who contributed leaks to their site.

        Or is some information better left secret? There are good things that have come out of WikiLeaks, but the potential for harm that comes along with it sometimes outweighs the advantages. If a site advocating openness of information is keeping secrets, we are straying into hypocrisy, even if it's not out-right.

        • by silanea (1241518)

          I'd like to see WikiLeaks post a leak of everyone who contributed leaks to their site.

          Oh yeah, smart. Why the hell do you think WikiLeaks exists in the first place? Because leaking certain information is either forbidden or extremely dangerous. The sources have to be protected. If they didn't, they would not need to use WikiLeaks but could just put their information on their personal website.

          Gosh, that wasn't so hard to figure out, was it?

  • Twatter again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Allicorn (175921) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:23AM (#28594209) Homepage

    Quote Schmitt:

    In the context of the latest developments in a complex context and the necessary political support for a certain cause, we are considering marking certain Tweets with a hashtag for emergencies which signifies that it has to do with something very important which needs the world's attention. #EMERGENCY or something like that. We have to try and make sure that dramatic developments in the world get the necessary attention.

    Honestly, when did the humble RSS feed or - heaven forfend - an actual webpage become an unacceptable way of disseminating information?

    More importantly - why?

    • Re:Twatter again (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:30AM (#28594955)
      Why not?

      New modes of information dissemination don't destroy the old ones. People can, and will, still use web sites and RSS feeds and IRC and telephone calls to disseminate information. But why not add Twitter to the mix? And why not establish some simple social rules for each of those communication channels to be used as effectively as possible?

      Your argument is almost like saying "Why do we need to establish 'SOS' as shorthand, when people can just say 'please help us!'. And why do ships bother using flags and lights to communicate to each other, when they can just yell at one another."

      I'm not arguing that Twitter is a world-changing paradigm-shift. But it's not useless. It's fast and easy to use and bridges different communication modes (text messaging, the web, RSS, etc.). That's why it has been helpful in emergency circumstances; because people were able to update their Twitters status very quickly and easily, even from a mobile device... yet the answer was broadcast across the web, enabling everyone to share in the knowledge.

      So, again... Why not?
    • Honestly, when did the humble RSS feed or - heaven forfend - an actual webpage become an unacceptable way of disseminating information?

      You should realize that Twitter is both- more specifically, you can see it as an index of RSS feeds.

      That's kinda like being puzzled that Myspace became more popular than Geocities. The latter has more freedom in what you can display, and how you can display it, but Myspace makes it easier for the average person to find their friends and all that other Web 2.0 goodness.

  • The U.S. has set up over the last two centuries a means by which information that should be kept secret is kept secret and information that should be public is public. By and large, this works, despite some well publicized failures. Legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, etc. has proved to be a means to uncover unsavory facts that would see the light of day despite the wishes of unsavory politicians. All of this takes place in the well defined arena of law and politics.

    Wikileaks would throw al

    • by Filip22012005 (852281) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:34AM (#28594325)

      The U.S. has set up over the last two centuries a means by which information that should be kept secret is kept secret and information that should be public is public. By and large, this works [...]

      How can you tell this works? For who does it work?

      • Well, you can look at the speculative picture. Let's say, for example, you saw a powerful man murder someone else, and you don't know whether to testify against him. The government wants this guy in prison, so they offer to help you get away, change your name, and give you some limited protection in exchange for testifying. Which would you prefer?

        a) The government doesn't help you or anyone else in the same situation and the crime boss goes free
        b) The government helps you, and posts your details on Wikileak

    • by rs232 (849320) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:38AM (#28594363)
      "The U.S. has set up over the last two centuries a means by which information that should be kept secret is kept secret and information that should be public is public. By and large, this works .. Wikileaks would throw all of this out"

      The people have a right to know what its government is doing on their behalf. Generally, if it can't stand the cold light of day, then they shouldn't be doing it. The ACTA [wikileaks.org] secret agreement being a case in point.
    • by RebootKid (712142) <rebootkid@nateandamy.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:44AM (#28594419)
      I must disagree. Your statement that FOIA requests are a good method of getting information out of the US Government falls down in multiple ways.

      1) Duration. I've seen FOIA requests take years to fulfill.
      2) Redaction. The FOIA answers often have sections blacked out in them. Sometimes large sections. What you're left with is a document that is essentially unreadable.
      3) Scope. FOIA only works where we're interfacing with the US Government agencies. It does not work with private corporations nor does it work with other nations.

      Much like free speech, Wikileaks should be covered under "freedom of press." There needs to be some place where this information can be distributed and the person doing the leak is not put at risk. There are too many groups/agencies around the world who solve problems by burning the bodies.
    • by pzs (857406) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:47AM (#28594453)

      The problem is one of trust. These days, I don't trust my government (UK) enough to let them make decisions about what I don't get to see. If they wanted to keep this trust, all they had to do was not oppose the release of their expenses quite so vigorously.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rliden (1473185)

        The problem is one of trust. These days, I don't trust my government (UK) enough to let them make decisions about what I don't get to see. If they wanted to keep this trust, all they had to do was not oppose the release of their expenses quite so vigorously.

        You would trust wikileaks though? You would trust the judgment of a few individuals with their own agenda? If you don't trust your government and the individuals who run it with their own agenda why would you trust wikileaks any more? They aren't some super moral group of people. They are as human and corruptible as your government, or you or I am for that matter.

        It's very popular to bash governments for their many mistakes and foibles, but the problem is none of us have come up with an better solution

        • by cowscows (103644)

          Wikileaks is just another piece of the puzzle. It's not a replacement for all public disclosure laws, and it's not a replacement for journalism. You're complaining that it has its own agendas and bias, which is undoubtedly true, but so does every other possible outlet for this sort of information.

          You can never create a source that's guaranteed to be free of that bias, so the proper system has lots of separate sources, which hopefully "averages out" all the bias and provides some sort of truth. To claim that

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chyeld (713439)

          I would. And I'll tell you why. Because if someone comes to Wikileaks and the site pulls some sort of 'nefarious' power play by only posting leaks in regard to a specific agenda, those people trying to get the banned material leaks will know and find alternative methods of getting the word out.

          Were you under the impression that these are the only folk who know how to setup a web site?

          PS. The answer to the question is: If Wikileaks has something out there that is so damaging to your 'elected officials' that

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gellern (1045842)
      Couple of things [1] Your argument assumes that there is good in keeping secrets? As in the lesser evil perspective, or perhaps a utility question of greater good? If that is so then wikileaks provides an excellent place for fairness - ardent defenders armed with 'Good Intentions' are bypassed and allow for universal questioning of the facts rather than relying on a few keen fellows to decide the good for all. [2] Truth is universal, this is not a axiom preaching nor a statement of an idealist, 2 + 2 is
      • by sycodon (149926)

        Your ATM PIN code is secret, is it not?

        The location of our nuclear warheads is secret, is it not?

        The location of the emergency shelters for the Executive Branch is secret...OK, Biden fucked that up.

        There are some things that need to be kept under wraps.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          The location of our nuclear warheads is secret, is it not?

          Would you like to know where North Korea keep their nukes?

          No bullshit prevarication: yes, or no.

          Now, why do you think that anybody outside the US gives a Goddamn whether the US wants to keep its nuke locations secret?

          Oh, you thought Wikileaks was a US entity only interested in spilling US beans? Jog on.

        • ATM - bank(and all employees) knows about it.
          WMD - http://archive.greenpeace.org/wmd/ [greenpeace.org]
          emergency shelters - mountains of MD.

          You need to come up with better examples.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#28594481) Journal
      Man, I definitely can't think of anything [wikipedia.org] in recent American history where a leak was the only thing that brought unsavory conduct to light...

      Oh wait [wikipedia.org]. Maybe one or two cases. Y'know, nothing important.
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:58AM (#28594585)
      The "National Security" argument is valid, but it is all too easy for it to be abused. Especially considering that we cannot properly judge the usage. We just have to accept when told "this is secret and I can't explain why it needs to be secret."

      Wikileaks would throw all of this out and make themselves (the collective leakers) the sole arbiter of what is in the national interest and what is not with respect to keeping secrets.

      Wikileaks is not the "sole arbiter" and they do not paint themselves as such. Publicizing leaked information has been a staple of investigative journalism for a long, long time. And it is generally acknowledged that this is one of the most beneficial things that journalism does for a democratic society: publicize the failures and corruptions of "the system"... particularly in those cases where "the system" is gaming itself to keep that information hidden.

      Wikileaks is thus an extension of tried-and-true techniques of leaking scandal, applied to a digital age. It fits in nicely with journalistic infrastructure, providing a way to get information out to the public in cases where entrenched powers would like to hide it.

      So what wikileaks does is to substitute the judgment of a system, made of up of untold knowledgeable individuals, with the judgment of one or two cranks with an ax to grind. The cranks may be right sometimes, but I think more often that not they will be wrong.

      I disagree. The "leaked information journalism" network (of which Wikileaks is a part) is another system made up of untold individuals, using their judgment to decide what to leak and publicize, and what not to. You say the system doesn't work on average. Can you point to a large number of things that were leaked and were damaging to National Security, without having a significant benefit with respect to democracy and stamping-out corruption? How does the number of such 'mistakes' compare to the number of 'legitimate leaks,' where the information really had no right to be suppressed?

      Another point to consider is that we don't know how many bits of leaked information were not publicized. The people who get hold of the secret data have choices to make. They can publicize it or not (this goes for someone considering uploading to Wikileaks, a journalist, etc.). Actually the fact that very few National-Security-compromising secrets have seen the light of day (troop movements, launch codes, etc.) suggests people are using appropriate discretion in leaking. Most of the things leaked are damaging to some individuals and organizations... but not a matter of security (military or economic or other). In short, they mostly deserve to be leaked.

      Again, I think you're going to have to defend your "more often [than] not they will be wrong" claim with specifics. As far as I can tell, information leaking has always been, and will continue to be, a vital portion of maintaining a democracy. Things like FOIA are also good, mind you. But to maintain a democracy we, the individual people making up the nation, must do our part in terms of oversight... which will occasionally mean breaking one set of rules in order to uphold a much more important set of ideals.

      • by Hatta (162192) *

        The "National Security" argument is valid, but it is all too easy for it to be abused.

        Abuse of the privilege is more common and dangerous than any leaked secret could possibly be. It quite literally puts the executive above the law. IMO, when a principle does more harm than good that makes it invalid, no matter how many well meaning arguments there are in favor of it.

      • by sycodon (149926)

        I submit to you the "torture" controversy.

        Two groups of documents, the memos describing and authorizing, and the pictures. Both of which a great majority of wikileak supporters would consider more than appropriate for publication.

        Obama has released the memos, to much controversy, but not the pictures, to even more controversy. But then, he is the President, with access to the necessary resources to decide what he believes is in the best interest of the nation. He was elected to make these decisions.

        Wikileak

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You make another very good point. Yes, accountability is key, especially among those with power. The President of the US, and the US government, have a lot of power. Wikilieaks has less power, though being given access to all kinds of leaked information of course gives them some measure of power.

          But in the real world, we cannot count on absolutes. In particular we cannot set up systems that are so absolute that they become inflexible and incapable of dealing with the frailties of humanity (which include
        • by Per Wigren (5315)

          If the government say they did X but the truth is that they instead did Y, if possible it should be exposed that they did Y. Substitute X and Y for anything. Same thing for corporations. Lies are bad, okay? If exposing the lie cause harm then they probably shouldn't had done Y in the first place. If exposing it might teach them to think twice the next time they are about to act against the will of the people, something good has happened. Basically, if they really really NEED to do something unpopular they s

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      Well, "national interest" is also defined that way: a bunch of powerful guys at the top of the hierarchy who disseminate information at their own discretion. Sometimes, they don't deserve to be trusted.

    • by shaka (13165)

      They do this without realizing the potential impact to national security or potential diplomatic damage that, while the leaker may think is justified and deserved, is more damaging to the U.S. (or other country subject to a wikileak) than the leaker realizes. They can't know the potential impact because they do not have access to the entire picture.

      Correction: They don't have access to the entire picture yet. A problem, which WikiLeaks is there to solve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I noticed they had the question and answer keys to the Red Hat Certified Engineer's exam, so I asked what the justification for this was. The answer was that Red Hat was being "unfair" by keeping the test closed. For political matters, Wikileaks can be useful, but for being a place where cheaters gather, it's pretty damned lame.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chyeld (713439)

      Actually they answered that the reason they posted the tests were to level the playing field as a number of people already had copies of the tests and thus an unfair advantage. When Redhat came after them, they argued that the onus was on Redhat to change the test since the cat had already been out of the bag.

      Which, you will note, Redhat did.

  • All readers? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    He encourages all readers and warns his opponents

    Huh... looks like we got ourselves a reader.

    • Jeez mods, I was commenting on the bizarre grammar used in the summary (he 'encourages all readers', what the hell is that supposed to mean?) by way of a little Bill Hicks reference. Is that really so hard to understand?
  • I wonder where the Novas Scarman report [wikileaks.org] has gone. If it's run like most of these charity rackets, it'll be one huge gravy train.
  • Fear the power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beetle B. (516615) <.moc.liame. .ta. .b_elteeb.> on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:57AM (#28594573)

    Since I'm sure this posting will be flooded with a lot of love for Wikileaks, I feel I have to try to post possible negatives.

    We must never forget this. We have the means to make our society better, to form a world in which there is a strong and united opposition against abuse. Locally, nationally, globally.

    One problem I've often seen in the past with regards to certain activist groups is their unintentional imposition of values on the people they claim to support. A very common example in places like Europe and occasionally Canada is feminist groups speaking on behalf of oppressed Muslim women who have to wear certain kinds of clothing. Some of these women are oppressed, but usually the solution those groups present is as undesirable to them as is the original problem. Additionally, most of the Muslim women seriously dispute the notion that they are oppressed, only to be dismissively told that they don't see it because they're not yet free. In other words, the activist groups have this attitude of "We know what's right and the rest of the world is wrong." If any of you have spent a lot of times with activists, I think you'll find this is a trap often fallen into.

    I've seen similar issues with some human rights organizations, labor oriented organizations, etc. They often fail to realize that while a problem may exist, the solution in their own society may be a poor solution in other societies.

    The real question is: Can Wikileaks avoid such a path? Or will they ultimately take on certain philosophies with the belief that they hold for all humanity, while possibly having little experience with most of the world's major cultures. So far they seem to have done well, but I suspect that this is something they'll need to actively guard against.

  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:08AM (#28594693)

    People who argue how damaging things can be if they were made public completely forget that if certain things were known earlier... things like this wouldn't NEED to be kept hidden.

    This huge cloud of people who just don't want to know and go on with their happy day lives is exactly what allows events to build up where releasing the information COULD be damaging.

    But lets be honest. How worse off do you think the United States could be right now in the eyes of the world?

    You will always have followers who don't want to know things and want the *smart* people to deal with it. The problem is, often enough those smart people aren't smart... or are greedy, power hungry... or otherwise influenced. Public eye on what they do is the ONLY thing stopping them. Watchdogs so to speak. Most of them in jobs just like you and me who happen to be there when something happens.

    The fear is that people will overreact to the sheer amount of hidden crap and revolt, or some religious nutjob will start calling the end of days and 50,000 idiots will believe him. But if you start slowly... revealing the truth bit by bit people will gradually become adjusted to it.

    The reason this will never happen is those in power will suddenly lose the ability to do things that might have been the "easy" way. It also will prevent us from doing things for "the good" that would be seen as "the bad". But that's a tradeoff I want to see simply because... the person making that decision does not have to answer to anyone if they were wrong. That should always be part of leadership.

    You make the call... you take the fall.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:52AM (#28595271)

      But lets be honest. How worse off do you think the United States could be right now in the eyes of the world?

      That depends entirely on which "eyes" you want to look through, does it not?

      Frankly, I'm not interested in a world popularity contest. I don't really care if Iran thinks the U.S. is a great nation. Frankly, it won't think the U.S. is a great nation as long as it thinks the entire world should be under Islamic rule. Just an example.

      My question is this: how many nations in the world do you think actually want the U.S. to be successful, as opposed to wanting their own country to assume the prominence that the U.S. has enjoyed for a while now? Do you think Britain thought highly of the U.S. in the late 1700s/early 1800s? Do you think most of the world thought highly of the U.S. during World War I/World War II?

      If the point of politics is to "look good" to other countries, then politics is severely messed up. If the point, on the other hand, is to do what our country/people think is right to do, then we have a point for discussion. Otherwise, we're just a puppet in a grand popularity contest. And when push comes to shove, when North Korea or some other country decides it wants to rule the world. the Popularity Contest is going to seem pretty silly in comparison to the "Uh, guys, we need to deal with this country forcefully before they decide to blow us all up in because we don't match their ideology." That's kinda what happened in the World Wars. Germany had an ideological difference. They wanted to rule the world with it (it's happened a few times in history...). If we only had "popular" countries (say... countries that decided to disarm...), I'm pretty sure we'd all be speaking German right now. Except for non-Aryan races, who wouldn't exist.

      And I'm not going to ask pardon for saying that the human race is capable of doing such awful things in the 21st century. We're quite capable of making some pretty stupid decisions and believing some insanely stupid things. And, IMO, it's insanely stupid to think that if the U.S. were just more popular with the worlds' countries, those countries would like the U.S. better. Nobody, especially those greedy for power, like a powerful country that is able to "threaten" a country. Unfortunately for humanity, it looks like that power is always going to exist; the question is, who has it and what beliefs do they hold to. Some countries are a lot less freedom-loving than others.

      But if you start slowly... revealing the truth bit by bit people will gradually become adjusted to it.

      Let's start with talking about the truth about human nature. Human nature is greedy, power-hungry, and wants to rule. Let's not forget that there are countries and people groups out there that pretty much would rather everyone believed (externally) the way they do or die. I'm not using words like "terrorist" or "muslim," because I'm not talking about any specific group. I'm saying that this is human nature, and has been for all of recorded human history. There's a reason you had really powerful nations in history like Egypt, Greece, Rome, Assyria, etc... Germany, Russia, U.S., Korea, Iran... they all have different ideologies, but most countries like to be in control.

      So, here is what I think the question really is... now that we have technology that can allow a very small country to threaten the world ("do this or we blow all of you up"), it becomes very important to be able to do more than talk to them or issue warnings/resolutions at them. It's the same as a playground bully. You don't "defeat" the bully by talking to him, making him see the error in his ways and hoping he joins you for a piece of cake and some tea. Bullies won't back down as long as they think they can bully their way out of it. Something has to make them realize this. The question is: who is the one that gets to have the power to stop the bullies, or should we just talk to the bullie

      • by lennier (44736)

        "And, IMO, it's insanely stupid to think that if the U.S. were just more popular with the worlds' countries, those countries would like the U.S. better."

        Actually, um, that's not only easy to believe but a tautology - if the US were more popular, by definition it would be more well-liked.....

        I'm trying to parse what you really mean and I can't figure it. Do you mean 'it's stupid to believe that if the US were less aggressive on the world stage, it would be more popular?' Or 'it's stupid to believe that if t

        • Sorry, I was unclear. By "those countries" and "worlds' countries," I was referring to two separate groups... those that dislike the U.S. on principle and those that just dislike the U.S. because of things the U.S. has done that they don't like. It was a quick-reply-ramble. :)
  • Almost all of the leaders of the planet Earth act like mobsters and criminals that are above the law because they are wealthy and above the law. The US is no exception. It is very very rare in the history of any country in any part of the world to find a leader that was not a monster. No matter who it was in any given time in any given place.

    This is why Wikileaks is necessary. Try and imagine a world where every secret of every government in every part of the world was known by every citizen. Governments sh

  • "Beware he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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