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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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  • Arrest WHO? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chordonblue (585047) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:34PM (#33115236) Journal

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

  • Summary is Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:40PM (#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 @04:42PM (#33115380)

    One sentence from the article.

    "Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible -- including to the United States' enemies."

    Not only was a Washington times writer unable to grasp grammar, but also unable to fully research their story. Or maybe they just don't want to honestly present information because they're part of the big 5 media monopoly in the states (Ben Bagdikian; google it).

    They make every governments activities known to everyone, in a nutshell. Similar to The Memory Hole back in the day.

    US government won't be able to do shit IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:44PM (#33115418)

    > 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.

    To be fair, the United States didn't do that. A journalist based in the US published his opinion in a US based newspaper.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:50PM (#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.

  • Re:srsly govt? (Score:3, Informative)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:51PM (#33115554) Journal

    Being a martyr isn't even the half of it. Anything happens to Julian or the wikileaks site, then this happens: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/02/wikileaks_insurance/ [theregister.co.uk]

  • by richardellisjr (584919) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:00PM (#33115706)
    Ever hear of Manuel Noriega and Panama?
  • by wemmick (22057) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:02PM (#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.

  • Re:I love it (Score:2, Informative)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:02PM (#33115738) Homepage
    It's not just American soldiers who were put in danger. Afghan civilians (and their families) who cooperated with us were also put in danger.

    I know they tried to completely purge names, but they weren't very successful at it or maybe they just didn't care. What's a few Afghan families if wikileaks can make the U.S. look bad?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:09PM (#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.

  • Re:I love it (Score:2, Informative)

    by jrminter (1123885) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:20PM (#33116014)
    You are correct.
  • by Americano (920576) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:26PM (#33116112)

    That will be cold comfort to the Afghani people who have worked with US forces when somebody tosses a grenade, or a molotov cocktail through their window. [nydailynews.com]

    (especially after taking all possible precautions to prevent harm before release)

    It's already been shown that the WL people didn't take "all possible precautions to prevent harm" - their release included GPS coordinates & full names & locations of people involved. If there is evidence of misdeeds by the US military, that's fine, they should be held accountable - but a giant dump of information that's been "edited by volunteers" is NOT "taking all possible precautions to prevent harm before release."

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:44PM (#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.

  • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:48PM (#33116448)
    I think that in this particular case, 'international law' signifies the understanding that each country has the right to create their own laws. The author is saying here that the US will not abide the laws of the country Assange is residing in.
  • Liberal = of liberty (Score:3, Informative)

    by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:38PM (#33117082)
    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 who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties*

    Wikipedia is more specific and defines two (three counting economic liberalism, but no one is referring to the third one when they say liberal bias) types of liberal:

    "Classical liberalism is a political ideology that developed in the nineteenth century in Western Europe, and the Americas. It is committed to the ideal of limited government and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets."

    "Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it recognizes a legitimate role for government in addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding civil rights."

    So just remember that when someone says a newspaper has a liberal bias what they are saying is that the newspaper has a bias towards being broad minded, tolerant, favouring reform and progress and supporting civil liberty. This is actually what newspapers are supposed to do, it is in some cases written into their founding documents and is basically what newspapers have a mandate to be.

  • Re:Excuse me (Score:2, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:01PM (#33117388)

    That soldier released far more than a video and some secret war documents. If thats all it were, then they would just be douche bags and nothing more. Both Wikileaks and 'that soildier' released information about current operations. Information that could actually be used to kill American soldiers, and natives, and other countries soldiers. 'The video' was spun SO HARD that my head almost twisted off reading the freaking subtitles added on to it.

    Wikileaks and that soldier didn't release untainted information, they skewed the facts into something completely other than what happened in order to get hits to their website.

    Anyone who actually has half a clue watched the video and saw the truth, and the truth had absolutely nothing to do with the people killed in the video or the pilots.

    We have legal ways to get the information, AFTER its no longer going to get someone killed. We have LEGITIMATE WAYS TO GET OUR GOVERNMENT TO GIVE US INFORMATION, we really don't NEED some tool with not a clue about what he's seeing spewing it onto a population that also has no clue what they are looking at.

    You clearly think the government (whichever one) is pure evil.

    Most Americans on the other hand, as surprising as you may find this, aren't fanatical lunatics who realize that the government isn't perfect, but its also not pure evil and somethings happen for a reason, even if I as a particular individual don't understand them.

    I don't blindly follow the government, but I also know when to let someone else do the job that I'm not experienced enough to do nor do I have the full picture.

    You don't have half the picture apparently because you've spent too much time reading Wikileaks and not actual facts.

  • by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:55PM (#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 Eric Freyhart (752088) on Monday August 02, 2010 @09:42PM (#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]
  • Where does it stop (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @09:43PM (#33118718)

    I work in the security field. I perform the type of work that the CyberCom was created for. While I would fight to my core to protect this country there are lines. I don't think the cybercom should be invoked frivilously as they are fighting on the forefront of our generations impending battlefield. In my opinion however, wikileaks has crossed the line in the field reports of the war. Sure, our gov't is not embellishing the truth about the war effort. It never has and never will. It is a part of war, that if there is negative aspects you try and dissuade it from coming to popular opinion and knowledge. War is a battle not only of the soldiers with guns but also to win the peoples popular opinion on the war.

    Wikileaks crossed the line where it was not professional in its stated goal. It comes down to journalistic responsibility. The difference between the reporters of old and our new internet age "report staff" are journalistic integrity is not there. If there was any chance for loss of life for a report, it would be weighed and finally decided to post ONLY if the risk to life was justified by the magnitude of the problem. Wikileaks could have safeguarded themselves and kept public opinion on their side by properly scrubbing the data of names and obscuring some locations to prevent retaliatory action. But didn't. It is almost as if they simply grabbed the docs and posted it. The videos of the helo pilots that killed the civilians was a proper release. Sure, it was not popular and i don't like it making our armed forces (im american) look bad, but honestly those things happen in war and it is the duty of our great nation to hold those responsible for these negative actions when they could have been avoided. Currently we do not do a good job of that, so justified. No one died as a result of that leak.

    My opinion is wikileaks has the potential to be one of the greatest things to allow whistleblowers the ability to get truly obscured negative things to light. Sadly, they blew their load by being too quick to get attention with a big leak. Our government lied to us about WMDs, insurgency (al qaeda was a BS small operation until WE drove people to it in droves), etc. But you know what, as americans we have done what we can to change those in power. It will not change shortly but we will fight every day to ensure those types dont continue business as usual.

    In my opinion wikileaks better (no threat) watch their next US military post as it will bring down the hammer for no reason. They focus in on others (plenty of evil bastards hiding shit, cough *corporations, big business, etc*) and they could be a great force for the world and its people who believe in right. Protected by lawyers from the EFF and other actionable orgs. If not, cybercom ninjas will slice through their site again and again. Those guys rock.

  • Re:I love it (Score:3, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Monday August 02, 2010 @10:08PM (#33118878) Journal

    Disclosure of classified national security information is not protected by free speech

    New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971) says otherwise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:42AM (#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.

  • by winwar (114053) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:31AM (#33120240)

    "There is certainly nothing that indicates they did it for the hell of it."

    Perhaps you should listen to the unedited tape. They were clearly enjoying killing people.

    "The crew saw people approaching the US position carrying AKs and at least one RPG."

    They did NOT identify an RPG. A camera is not an RPG. Protocol requires clear identification.

    "According to protocol, they received clearance to fire, and did so."

    They LIED in order to receive clearance to fire. I believe that is against protocol.

    "A van approached and started loading bodies, a common insurgent tactic."

    It's also a common civilian tactic.

    "They are obviously unaware (based on later audio) that there are children in the van."

    Who would have thought there would be civilians in a van in a city. They certainly weren't concerned about having killed them

    "Again, according to protocol, they received clearance to fire, and did so."

    What part of protocol allows them to fire on civilians? The people loaded into the van weren't going to walk away.

    "There is nothing in the tape to indicate intent to kill photographers..."

    Other than the fact that they did.

  • by metacell (523607) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:13AM (#33120674)

    CIA did pick up two Swedish citizens allegedly suspected for terrorism, but it was with the cooperation of the Swedish authorities. If the CIA had just walked in and grabbed them, there would have been a huge outcry. But in this case, it was the Swedish authorities themselves who chose to overlook Swedish law.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by metacell (523607) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:28AM (#33120740)

    Large parts of the world are critical to the USA because of their foreign policy.

    Here in Europe, we have the left-wingers, who are critical of USA whatever they do, and the right-wingers, who love them whatever they do. But in the middle, we have a large number of people who judge USA by its actions.

    For example, USA received almost no criticism in Europe when it invaded Afghanistan, because it had valid reason to do so. Afghanistan really did harbour terrorists who were directly involved in attacks against the USA, and the USA had support in the UN for going in. The invasion of Iraq, however, was heavily criticised, because it was obvious to most outside observers that both the talk about "weapons of mass destruction" and the talk about "aiding terrorism" was bull. It was obvious that President Bush was looking for excuses to invade.

  • by datan (659165) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @07:51AM (#33121564) Homepage
    Resolution 1441 does NOT authorise use of force. For use of force to be legal under international law generally either a country is acting in self-defense or armed action has been sanctioned by the UNSC. UNSC resolutions which authorise use of force are very explicit and usually contain some variant of "all means necessary". 1441 does not contain such a phrase. In fact, both the US and UK ambassadors were publicly quoted as saying that resolution 1441 does NOT have any automaticity leading to armed action. In fact, the US and UK were trying to get another resolution passed when they realised they didn't have the votes so they decided to invade anyway.

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