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WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo 837

Posted by Soulskill
from the rhetoric-reaching-critical-levels dept.
bedmison writes "In an op-ed in the Washington Post titled 'WikiLeaks must be stopped,' Marc A. Thiessen writes that 'WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,' and that the US has the authority to arrest its spokesman, Julian Assange, even if it has to contravene international law to do so. Thiessen also suggests that the new USCYBERCOM be unleashed to destroy WikiLeaks as an internet presence." Reader praps tips an interview with another WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt, who says they have no regrets about releasing the Afghanistan documents, and says WikiLeaks is "changing the game." Several other readers have pointed out that WikiLeaks posted a mysterious, encrypted "insurance" file on Thursday, which sent the media into a speculative frenzy over what it could possibly contain.
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WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:33PM (#33115230)

    So apparently The Washington Post presents a clear and present danger to public freedom and the accountability of government and industry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually, anything that exposes what the WaPost has missed or completely mischaracterized is a clear and present danger...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:50PM (#33115524)

      No, not necessarily. It was an Op Ed. Anyone can write an Op Ed and submit it to popular newspapers to be published, including you and the people who marked you insightful. Politicians submit Op Eds to newspapers regularly. So, do journalists on occasion, but that's why it's in the Op Ed section and not the news section.

      • by wemmick (22057) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:02PM (#33115728) Journal

        Yes, mod up this AC.

        Thiessen worked for George W. Bush, Jesse Helms, and Donald Rumsfeld. He's a well-regarded pundit and speechwriter in conservative circles.

        His writings do not represent the editorial board of the Washington Post. The Post publishes columns by Thiessen so that they can represent different shades of the political spectrum.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:09PM (#33115830) Homepage Journal

          Thiessen [wikipedia.org] didn't just work for Bush, Helms and Rumsfeld. He was spokesman for and senior policy advisor to Helms, when the ancient and decrepit Helms was in charge of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 1995-2001. He moved with Rumsfeld to the top of the Pentagon as his chief speechwriter 2001-2004, then to Bush's speechwriting team, becoming its chief in 2008.

          He's "a well regarded pundit and speechwriter in Conservative circles" in that he was among the people most responsible for starting the Iraq War (as they'd planned through the 1990s), for ignoring the threats from the Qaeda in Afghanistan (because they cared only about invading Iraq), for running both wars as epic catastrophes while attacking everyone questioning them as a "clear and present danger" to America's security.

          The Washington Post publishes columns by Thiessen because his radical rightwing warmonger faction is the Post's board's favorite tiny sliver of Americans. Who always get whatever they want, especially wars.

          • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:44PM (#33116364)

            The Washington Post publishes columns by Thiessen because his radical rightwing warmonger faction is the Post's board's favorite tiny sliver of Americans. Who always get whatever they want, especially wars.

            So when their other columnists vociferously disagree with Thiessen, does that mean the Washington Post has changed it's views and is now pro-peace and transparency? The WaPo's stable of editorial writers leans slightly to the right (and only slightly), but I suspect this is largely an overreaction to balance perceived liberal bias at the paper. Take a look at the columnists:

            • Joel Achenbach
            • Anne Applebaum
            • David Broder
            • Jonathan Capehart
            • Richard Cohen
            • Petula Dvorak
            • Jackson Diehl
            • E.J. Dionne
            • Michael Gerson
            • Fred Hiatt
            • Kevin Huffman
            • David Ignatius
            • Robert Kagan
            • Al Kamen
            • Colbert King
            • Ezra Klein
            • Charles Krauthammer
            • Ruth Marcus
            • Robert McCartney
            • Harold Meyerson
            • Dana Milbank
            • Matt Miller
            • Courtland Milloy
            • Kathleen Parker
            • Steven Pearlstein
            • Eugene Robinson
            • Robert Samuelson
            • Greg Sargent
            • Marc Thiessen
            • Katrina vanden Heuvel
            • George Will
            • Jonathan Yardley
            • Fareed Zakaria

            Of the ones I have read and have a noticed a bias in, I count roughly half a dozen conservative writers (Applebaum, Gerson, Krauthammer, Parker, Samuelson, Thiessen and Will). There are a three or four more that lean right, without being purely conservative (and Parker and Samuelson are unorthodox for conservatives on some issues). I count a similar number of liberal leaning op-ed writers (Achenbach, though he's mostly a humor and science writer, Broder, Capehart, King, Klein, Marcus, Meyerson, Robinson), and a similar number of those that lean left (many of their op-ed writers specializing in economics write with a center left viewpoint). Trying to claim the Post holds a specific viewpoint based on their stable of op-ed writers is being intentionally obtuse.

            P.S. I'm sure I got one or two writers' political inclinations wrong, I'm operating from memory here. But if you look at their op-ed writers as a whole, the overall political leanings are fairly moderate. If you read their website, the batshit crazy writers tend to get linked in the Opinion section on the front page more often, but I suspect this is trolling for page views; the more outrageous the viewpoint, the more clicks it gets.

            • I would like to add a small note here regarding the definition of the word liberal, which it seems most US residents are unaware of.

              This is princeton's somewhat muddled definition

              Liberal:broad: *showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions" having political or social views favoring reform and progress tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition a person

            • by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:55PM (#33117912)

              While I appreciate the work you put in your post and I can't disagree with it's premise, it is hard to ignore the fact that Robert Novak was a columnist, and when he outed Plame for Cheney it was fairly obvious to anyone paying attention that the WaHoPo had more than one columnist who got privileged information from the Bush administration in return for favorable treatment in the columns they wrote. Personally, that will always color my perception of the rag regardless of the future makeup of their editorial board.

            • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:44PM (#33118290) Homepage Journal

              The Washington Post was one of the chief cheerleaders in the rush to war in Iraq, in the determination to "stay the course", in the attacking of any discussion of any metrics towards or for withdrawal (like a timetable) as surrender.

              Since around 2007 and Iraq's government forcing the US to commit to the withdrawal timetable now nearing its 50,000 troops milestone, that editorial policy has been moot. It did its job. Now the WP can go ahead and act like it wasn't the cheerleader, because people's memories aren't that long, and its business is the current manipulations.

          • by Myopic (18616) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#33116904)

            the ancient and decrepit Helms

            Jeez, you make it sound as if he helped build the pyramids or something. That's absurd. He wasn't born until almost a thousand years after the pyramids were built.

    • by AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) <afaciniNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:57PM (#33115648)

      So apparently The Washington Post presents a clear and present danger to public freedom and the accountability of government and industry.

      Keep in mind that this is an Op-Ed... NOT to be confused with a staff editorial.

      Mr. Thiessen's writing doesn't represent the WaPo directly. Only in their decision to run the article are they involved.

      In other words, don't think the WaPo is defending their bottom line, attacking accountability, etc. They have a pretty solid reputation for fighting for transparency.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:51PM (#33116502) Homepage Journal

      The Washington Post presents a clear and present danger

      The Washington Post can't go out of business fast enough for me.

      They've been the house organ of the ruling elite in this country, dishing out their contemporary wisdom, celebrating our glorious wars, supporting Israel above any US interest, regardless of morality. They've been so thoroughly worked over by K-Street and the Right-Wing Media that they constantly overcompensate by spreading any right-wing crap that comes down the pike and denying any reality if it even hints of something that the far right doesn't like.

      It's been more than 30 years since Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. They've gone along meekly with the agenda of the rich and powerful to the point where they've trivialized their mission and completely lost their way. Howard Kurtz is an abomination, trying to load his op-ed section with the most odious opinions from neo-conservatives. They're a joke.

      Instead of "comfort the afflicted" they should change their mission statement to "comfort the comfortable".

      The people who love wars hate it when unflattering truths about their glorious wars comes to the attention of people. All of a sudden, people who are thrilled by predator attacks and civilian deaths are outraged, outraged, I tell you that Afghanis might be at risk for collaborating with American forces. What a load. I don't believe for one second these war mongers give a rat's ass about what's going to happen to Afghani civilians who might be named in the Wikileaks papers.

      The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in US history. George Bush took us there to get rid of Al Qaeda and that mission was accomplished some years ago. Now we're fighting a war with the Taliban. We're no more going to get rid of the Taliban than we're gonna invade Georgia to get rid of rednecks. We'd have to kill every last human in Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban. So we support a corrupt government that the people of Afghanistan absolutely hate. What could possibly go wrong?

      People who are all about "sunlight is the best disinfectant" believe we should be fighting wars in the dark. God forbid Americans should find out what we're actually paying for and what we're sending young people to die for.

      Keep the Wikileaks coming, I say.

  • And they should know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vm146j2 (233075) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:33PM (#33115232)

    They could only publish it if they were getting the acceptable, authorized leaks which told them so.

  • I love it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:33PM (#33115234) Homepage

    I love that an organization is a danger because it reveals coverups and secrets to ordinary citizens.

    "But Pojut, our enemies will use this information against us!"

    Well then maybe we shouldn't be doing it in the first place. Doy.

    • Re:I love it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:39PM (#33115330) Journal
      The danger is not revealing cover-ups. The danger is some of the ancillary information also revealed.

      I feel that wikileaks is a Good Thing; but I also acknowledge that there are some things that serve no purpose being released, and that put individuals in danger for no benefit.

      Responsible disclosure may be too much to ask for -- but I wish that dangerous information was redacted, unless there was some clear benefit to that information becoming public.

      I guess that would run counter to what wikileaks is all about... and it's a shame, because without responsible disclosure, wikileaks will, in effect, be shut down by the PTB.
      • Re:I love it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:48PM (#33115498)

        I also acknowledge that there are some things that serve no purpose being released, and that put individuals in danger for no benefit.

        Humorously, if an American soldier dies for nothing, maybe for oil, or maybe just to profit the military industrial complex, they describe it as "he died to save our freedoms" and other assorted BS.

        On the other hand, if an American soldier dies because of our actual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, well, thats a clear and present danger, etc, etc, bs bs bs.

      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:49PM (#33115514) Journal

        According to The Register, there is a huge encrypted file [theregister.co.uk] up on wikileaks now, called 'insurance.' The US goes after wikileaks or Julian Assange, the key to that file goes out to the world. And according to Assange, everything dangerous was redacted out of the Afghanistan documents. Cryptome's John Young speculates that the 'insurance' file contains all the redacted bits.

        • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:18PM (#33117562)

          There's one reason why this is a poor method of insurance. Suppose there's somebody out there with an even bigger axe to grind than Assange, who will stop at nothing to get the contents of this "insurance" file released. With over six billion people in the world, and a substantial number of them having a beef with the U.S., it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

          The implication here is that if something happens to Assange, then the key gets released. So, it logically follows that if you want the key to be released.......

          (For my own safety, I have no interest in the contents of that file. And while I personally think Julian Assange is a self-righteous ass, I don't wish physical harm on him or any of the other people involved with Wikileaks.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            There's one reason why this is a poor method of insurance. Suppose there's somebody out there with an even bigger axe to grind than Assange, who will stop at nothing to get the contents of this "insurance" file released. With over six billion people in the world, and a substantial number of them having a beef with the U.S., it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

            The implication here is that if something happens to Assange, then the key gets released. So, it logically follows that if you want the key to be released.......

            (For my own safety, I have no interest in the contents of that file. And while I personally think Julian Assange is a self-righteous ass, I don't wish physical harm on him or any of the other people involved with Wikileaks.)

            But you have not thought this all the way through. The US itself is a big enough entity that nobody's axe is bigger than theirs. Knowing that someone might want to force Assange to give up the key, its probably in the US's best interest to protect Assange.

  • Arrest WHO? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chordonblue (585047) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:34PM (#33115236) Journal

    Julian? Sure, he's the face of WL, but that would not stop the signal.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'The US Government is a Clear and Present Danger' says US Citizens

  • too late (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:35PM (#33115270)
    the cat is out of the bag, even if they killed wikileaks the information they posted is most likely on other people's computers already and it would be a trivial task to setup another server somewhere else with that same info or the very least seed some torrents of it all at various bittorrent sites.
    • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:39PM (#33115316) Homepage

      I think it's safe to say that they're more concerned about what Wikileaks will publish in the future. This isn't about putting the cat back into the bag, but about prior restraint of future publication.

      • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk.gmail@com> on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:44PM (#33115422)

        Hence the insurance file. Presumably that encrypted file would contain information that the government would want to remain secret more than they would want wikileaks in general silenced.

        • Re:too late (Score:5, Funny)

          by ciggieposeur (715798) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:05PM (#33115764)

          Presumably that encrypted file would contain information that the government would want to remain secret more than they would want wikileaks in general silenced.

          So obviously the file must contain highly sensitive copyrighted works like the music for next year's Disney pop star lineup. The economic damage from piracy of that magnitude could destroy the world economy 300 times over.

          Brilliant move on Wikileak's part. Who in the US government will care about our minor military secrets when the RIAA's profits are at risk?

      • Re:too late (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Inzite (472846) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:01PM (#33115722)
        This is neither about putting the cat back into the bag nor about preventing future leaks. This is about responding by doing something , regardless of whether or not that something that must be done is justified, legal, pragmatic, ethical, or effective.

        Reacting has become the solitary goal of politicians...to take some kind of action when their constituents feel threatened, regardless of whether that action is appropriate, or if there even exists any action whatsoever is appropriate.

        Cases in point:
        The TSA
        The War on Terrorism
        Warrantless Wiretapping
        The War on Drugs
        MADD
        Felony Time for Personal Drug Use
        Religion
        The Pledge of Allegiance
        The Witchhunt to Determine Who Killed Michael Jackson
        Laws Banning Assisted Suicide
        Censorship of (insert media here)
        Laws Against Flag Burning
        The RIAA
        The MPAA
        etc.
        etc.
        etc.

        It's a tragedy of this fully-padded, 100% sterilized, risk-free, instant-gratification, 24/7-connected dreamworld that we are increasingly inhabiting that there has to be an immediate cure for every evil. People no longer accept that sometimes the best action is no action at all.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:37PM (#33115284)

    ....and that the US has the authority to arrest its spokesman, Julian Assange, even if it has to contravene international law to do so.

    Sounds to me more like the United States is the clear and present danger. Particularly when they claim an authority and yet admit a conflict with international law.

  • Summary is Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:40PM (#33115332)

    This wasn't the Washington Post saying this, it was a columnist who writes a weekly column for the Post. Saying that the Post says this is like attributing George Will's tirades to the Post. The Post publishes opeds from all over the political spectrum that may or may not reflect the editorial stance of the Post. Thiessen is a right-winger from the American Enterprise Institute. If you want to get pissed at someone, get pissed at the AEI, not the Post.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:55PM (#33115608)

      Horse shit. Their ink, their paper, their website, their responsibility.

      It's all well and good to play both sides of the political theater, but ultimately anything they choose to print is endorsed by the entire organization, two line legal blurb or no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Not at all. They provide ongoing column space to a number of writers with wildly different viewpoints. Their regular Op-Ed writers hold wildly different views. As long as the Op-Ed writers don't go wildly out of line (unambiguous libel, unambiguous lies, unjustifiable profanity), most newspapers generally print it as is. No one on the WaPo editorial board is signing off on the content of these columns. It's the same at other newspapers too. Op-Ed columnists are signed to contracts and produce a regular colu
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        No, that is not the way Op Ed pieces work. The only thing you can conclude is that the paper decided that the opinion is worth to be expressed, be it because of the content or because of the messenger (both are important here). Do you really think that if there's a debate raging through the pages of the Post that there is an actual battle of opinions going on between the chief editor and himself?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by darkmeridian (119044)

        So is Slashdot responsible for your statements? Look at the blurb at the bottom of Slashdot. Dododododododo. Oh wait, you're zealot. That means you'll make something up on why it's different even though it isn't.

  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:41PM (#33115356) Homepage

    ...but Marc Thiessen is downright scary. Secret indictments. Grabbing foreign citizens in other countries against local laws and extradition treaties. Are you kidding, Marc? Want to bring back the Alien and Sedition Acts while you're at it?

    I'm not sure that a regime where stuff like this happens is really worth protecting in the name of "national security".

  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <<tim.almond> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:41PM (#33115360) Homepage
    ... to the mainstream media who are more interested in printing out press releases than going out and finding news.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      In all fairness, they do *some* investigative reporting...on celebrities and celebrity gossip.
  • by eepok (545733) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:42PM (#33115386) Homepage

    The clear and present danger doesn't come from *talking* about the actions of the American government, but from the actions themselves.

    Newspapers didn't aid the Northern Vietnamese when they published the Pentagon Papers, but instead the Government and Military hurt the America with their secretive and malicious actions in Southeast Asia.

    Just the same, releasing more information about the military actions in Afghanistan (especially after taking all possible precautions to prevent harm before release) does not cause injury to the US. It's the actions the US is ashamed to talk about that cause the harm.

  • Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:42PM (#33115388) Homepage

    "and that the US has the authority to arrest its spokesman, Julian Assange, even if it has to contravene international law to do so"

    Interesting interpretation of "international law" and America's opinion of it. No wonder the world hates the US.

  • by Chicken_Kickers (1062164) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:45PM (#33115444)

    It is not Wikileaks that is the danger, it is the trigger happy US and allied military and the uncaring and arrogant US government that is jeopardising the safety and image of Americans to the world. To turn the oft repeated slogan on its head; "If you got nothing to hide, you should not fear Wikileaks". I am sick of hearing "political analysts" and politicians saying Wikileaks is endangering American soldiers because they expose atrocities committed by American soldiers, and as the flawed logic goes, emboldens the enemy. Seriously, this is something Goebbles or Stalin might say, not the leaders of the free world. Wikileaks is actually helping the US by creating negative consequences for excesses of its military. Instead of trying to silence Wikileaks by extra-legal, Gestapo/NKVD/Kempetai-like "rendering" of the founder (which will only worsen the US image), maybe the US should rein in their cowboy soldiers and walk the "spreading freedom and democracy" talk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Americano (920576)

      To turn the oft repeated slogan on its head; "If you got nothing to hide, you should not fear Wikileaks".

      And that oft-repeated slogan is also oft-derided here on Slashdot as a ridiculous notion that flies in the face of the very concept of privacy, and the fact that some things really should remain private.

      I am sick of hearing "political analysts" and politicians saying Wikileaks is endangering American soldiers because they expose atrocities committed by American soldiers, and as the flawed logic goes, em

  • And in other news, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:47PM (#33115484) Homepage

    And in other news, Joseph Goebbels has written a scathing denunciation of the Jews, and the threat they pose to German society.

    Don't blame the Post (entirely) for this opinion piece; they merely published it. It was written by one of Bush and Rummy's chief apologists, an alarmist advocate of martial law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:49PM (#33115508)

    Isn't "Clear and Present Danger" the terminology used to justify Executive Orders to assassinate someone Without Remorse? The Washington Post is playing Patriot Games. I think we owe Wikileaks a Debt of Honor.

  • by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:04PM (#33115760)
    For those of you who've forgotten this fellow, he's a former Bush speechwriter and author of the terribly misleading "Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack".

    The New Yorker did a piece [newyorker.com] on that book, investigating some of the claims made within and revealing many to be clearly false. Basically the book was a defense of "enhanced interrogation". One claim that I recall off the top of my head is that information obtained by the CIA through enhanced interrogation was instrumental in preventing a conspiracy to hijack several planes flying from London in 2006. Yet according to the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit, all the intelligence involved was gathered in the uk. Thiessen's version of events is flatly contradicted.

    This guy has been one of the primary fonts of misinformation and foolishness in the media since then. He has no credibility, and should be regarded only as a bellwether of neoconservative opinion.
  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:08PM (#33115804)

    WikiLeaks is in its essence just a Wiki site. A web site. It's clear that publishing text is in no way unique to that site, you can do it on any site. Hopefully the government isn't saying that free communication is the real threat to national security.

    WikiLeaks didn't commit any of the acts in the leaked documents, it wasn't their job or responsibility for keeping those documents secret, and they didn't leak the documents from their origin: some unknown source did on their own will, and sent them to WikiLeaks.

    All WikiLeaks did was take those documents, make a cursory check of authenticity, and publish them.

    Of course, by doing so, they become an easy target for people who are willing to turn heads away from the actual problems that lead to projects like WikiLeaks, and instead blame the messenger.

    The real problem (for certain people) is that WikiLeaks is now a vivid symbol nurturing an environment where people may not simply do something because it was ordered from above, and especially if it's in conflict with basic human rights and morals.

    But by loudly blaming WikiLeaks for the created situation, they only serve to further strengthen the very symbol they want to destroy. Somewhat ironic. As long as WikiLeaks is on everyone's target, and not their anonymous sources, more and more whistle-blowers will choose to trust them with their data.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <{taiki} {at} {cox.net}> on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:16PM (#33115944)

    WikiLeaks is in a great place for the press in that it allows WikiLeaks to be the source of scandalous documents; rather than actually being responsible for the leak itself.

    What this means is that they have a huge overarching story they can flog for quite awhile and not have to worry about retribution for running any given story. WikiLeaks is a total win-win for an ever more lazy media.

  • Blood on his hands (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:25PM (#33116096) Homepage Journal

    Let's keep it straight just who has blood on their hands.

    Doctors Without Borders was in Afghanistan for 30 years, running rural health clinics and supporting and teaching Afghani doctors and nurses. They treated everyone without regard to who they were affiliated with or which side they were on. Their medical clinics were one of the few neutral areas in Afghanistan, respected by everyone, where guns were not permitted.

    After the U.S. invasion, Colin Powell moved in a lot of U.S. medical charity workers, and referred to medical workers as "force extenders." The U.S. passed out fliers telling villagers that if they joined the American side and turned in the Taliban, they would get all kinds of benefits, including medical services.

    That politicized medical services in Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders was no longer safe, and had to leave the country. I read an account in which a German obstetrician was crying and refused to leave her patients -- Afghanistan has one of the highest infant and maternal death rates in the world -- and her supervisor had to order her to leave. It was too dangerous.

    The other problems like checkpoints manned by soldiers who didn't speak the local language, and killed civilian families who didin't understand their orders, is too much to get into here.

    The Bush Administration has blood on its hands. Thiessen was George W. Bush's speechwriter. Thiessen has blood on his hands.

    Thiessen is arguing that we should ignore international law. He's using the logic of terrorists.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:42PM (#33119794)

      Posting AC because I've done 7 missions with MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders).

      Your posts contains elements that are both right and wrong. MSF left Afghanistan when five of our expats were murdered. MSF can only work in the areas we do (in conflict areas, where no one else goes except the ICRC) only because we are both neutral and impartial and if this fact is understood and respected by all parties. Clearly, a targeted attack is sign that this understanding is no longer respected.

      Regarding the refusal to evacuate. No one likes doing it. I've done it several times and it feels like shit. You are abandoning the people you were there to help as well as your national staff counterparts while you tuck tail and leave. There's no way around this. OTOH, if the situation's come to the point where death is highly probably, you waited too long to evac. The moment an expat or multiple MSF expats are intentionally killed, that's it for operations in that country. Game's over and no one's coming back for a while. The major players usually understand this and our white t-shirts and white Landcruisers are pretty good protection. If it turns out it was by accident or a rogue action, then that has negative implications as well. In one country, we had an expat staffer killed. Eventually, the killers were found and as a show that their actions didn't represent any of the differing factions, they were executed and bodies dumped with an explanation. Those deaths are on us, too, because somebody wasn't careful enough and didn't see the signs.

      One way or another, the evacuation order is the one order that cannot be refused or argued about. If you refuse, your contract is terminated on the spot. You're no longer MSF and you're on your own. Your refusal to evacuate will damage operations and hurt the people in the long run. This is made clear to you in training and prep. I know of no one who's refused an evacuation. I know of no one who knows of anyone who's ever refused an evacuation order. Oddly enough, I'm a former soldier so people expect me to be the most reticent to call an evacuation, whereas the reality is that I'm usually the first one to put the option on the table.

      In the past decade, humanitarian aid's become highly politicized. As in, everyone talks of neutrality and impartiality but very few can actually walk the walk. How can they? They're all taking money from USAID ECHO or various UN agencies and that money usually comes with strings attached. Really? You're impartial? You're taking money from European nations that all belong to NATO and you say you're impartial? You work within the UN cluster system and may be traveling under ISAF (aka, the "bad guys" if you're Taliban) protection (which was established by the UN) and you say you're neutral? Really? REALLY?

      MSF avoids this whole can of worms by only taking private donors and/or money with no strings attached. It gives us the freedom to actually be neutral and impartial. But here's the kicker. No one knows that, least of all, the guys who associate Americans and Europeans with NATO, ISAF, UNAMI and the US government and the US military.

      "No really, we're different from all the other guys! Really!" You try that line and see if anyone with a hard-on against anyone not like them believes you. We are, but it's impossible to get that point across where it really matters.

      That's not to shit on the other NGOs. They do good work, too. Some do it better than we do - the Oxfam guys really know their water and ACF does famine better than anyone else - but very few NGOs have the luxury of financial independence that we do. It sucks, but that's the way things have gone and for us, we no longer have the trust and access that we once did.

      It also doesn't help that the military is involved in "humanitarianism" as well. Thanks.

      Oh yeah, and these views are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of MSF, official or otherwise. Yeah.

  • Time to step up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jridley (9305) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:49PM (#33117240)

    I really need to write a check to Wikileaks. And EFF. And ACLU. This liberty thing could get expensive, what with us having to fund the fight against the people who we elected to uphold it, who are also using our money.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:23PM (#33117612)

    Depraved Indifference [uslegal.com]: "to bring defendant's conduct within the murder statute, that the defendant's act was imminently dangerous and presented a very high risk of death to others and that it was committed under circumstances which evidenced a wanton indifference to human life or a depravity of mind. . . . . The crime differs from intentional murder in that it results not from a specific, conscious intent to cause death, but from an indifference to or disregard of the risks attending defendant's conduct."

    I hope for Julian Assange's sake that no Afghani or Iraqi informants are killed because someone figured out from the unredacted information who the informants are. His releasing of this information directly led to these informant's death.

  • by Eric Freyhart (752088) on Monday August 02, 2010 @08:42PM (#33118714) Journal
    Do any of you young folk remember a man by the name of Daniel Ellsberg? If not, please take a little bit of your time and look up a movie called "The Most Dangerous Man in America". For more information please visit the Internet Movie Database at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1319726/ [imdb.com].

    Daniel Ellisberg was the man who leaked what has become known as "The Pentagon Papers". He was the first man to be charged under the Espionage Act, with results that the administration did not intend. He never spent a minute in jail. The documentary of his actions came out last year (2009).

    Here is a little breakdown of the story:

    "The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of classified documents, decides to challenge an "Imperial" Presidency-answerable to neither Congress, the press, nor the people-in order to help end the Vietnam War. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg shook America to its foundations when he smuggled a top-secret Pentagon study to the New York Times that showed how five Presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing millions and tearing America apart. President Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America," who "had to be stopped at all costs." But Ellsberg wasn't stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. Ensuing events surrounding the so-called Pentagon Papers led directly to Watergate and the downfall of President Nixon, and hastened the end of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg's relentless telling of truth to power, which exposed the secret deeds of an "Imperial Presidency," inspired Americans of all walks of life to forever question the previously-unchallenged pronouncements of its leaders. "The Most Dangerous Man in America" tells the inside story, for the first time on film, of this pivotal event that changed history and transformed our nation's political discourse. It is told largely by the players of that dramatic episode-Ellsberg, his colleagues, family and critics; Pentagon Papers authors and government officials; Vietnam veterans and anti-war activists; Watergate principals, attorneys and the journalists who both covered the story and were an integral part of it; and finally-through White House audiotapes-President Nixon and his inner circle of advisors.

    Documentary is available at Megavideo: http://www.megavideo.com/?d=6VI4M5CC [megavideo.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VShael (62735)

      It's a brilliant documentary, but times have changed. And changed in a big way.

      One of the best things in the documentary, was when the US government got a court injunction to prevent the publication of a US Newspaper.
      That was how they tried to plug the leaks.

      In an amazing display of journalism doing its job, other newspapers collectively put their heads on the block, and took over the release of information.

      As the government shut one down, another would step up and take over.

      It was like a pre-internet versi

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