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Government The Media Censorship Your Rights Online

Why WikiLeaks Is Worth Defending 257

Posted by timothy
from the well-there's-that-cool-logo dept.
SomePgmr writes "By now, anyone with even a passing interest in the WikiLeaks phenomenon is familiar with most of the elements of its fall from grace: the rift between founder Julian Assange and early supporters over his autocratic and/or erratic behavior, the Swedish rape allegations that led to his seeking sanctuary in Ecuador, a recent childish hoax the organization perpetrated, and so on. Critics paint a picture of an organization that exists only in name, with a leadership vacuum and an increasingly fractured group of adherents. Despite its many flaws, however, there is still something worthwhile in what WikiLeaks has done, and theoretically continues to do. The bottom line is that we need something like a 'stateless news organization,' and so far it is the best candidate we have."
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Why WikiLeaks Is Worth Defending

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  • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:40AM (#41121543)
    Freedom to post whatever you want in a public forum is important in our world today. Wikileaks seems to self destructing and isn't necessary in the grand scheme of things.
    • Wikileaks is a bit like Anonymous. Anybody can just pick up a Wikileaks-like sounding domain name and claim to be working for "Wikileaks". So in that sense, it can never really be destroyed.

      That being said, any government could just create a fake Wikileaks organization, infiltrate an existing one, or coerce existing members, so for some types of whistle-blowers, the only branches of Wikileaks that can be trusted are the ones that keep on publishing negative embarrassing materials against their own governmen

    • by Jahava (946858) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:27AM (#41121795)

      Freedom to post whatever you want in a public forum is important in our world today. Wikileaks seems to self destructing and isn't necessary in the grand scheme of things.

      Came here to say this. There will always be a vacuum for leaking facilitators, especially with the vast-reaching scale of the Internet and strong cryptography and anonymization technologies, and it will always be filled. Even without Wikileaks, there are other sites like Cryptome [cryptome.org]. Hell, even Gawker's [gawker.com] filling that role. Hell, here's a compiled list [leakdirectory.org]. With decentralized file-sharing sites, any torrent tracker or public file server can operate as a host for information. As Brand famously said, "Information wants to be free" [wikipedia.org], and the "99%" of any country will continue to be hungry consumers of that information.

      It doesn't matter if Assange wants to be a showman or douche things up. He doesn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things. He's merely the current public face of a system that has always existed and will always continue to exist. You can't make an example out of a thing like that.

      The Powers that Be aren't stupid. They have to know this. Our job as the Public is to systematically remove any alternatives that they have to being good and respectful to their fellow man, and leaking is a critical and and inevitable part of that mission. With the Internet, we are closer than ever to having the tools to actually accomplish this. This doesn't mean that all leaks are good and noble; it does, however, mean that we need to respect their role in making the world a better place. It also means that legislating against this inevitability is both futile and self-destructive in the short term.

      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        An important distinction: that vid, Collateral Murder on US military war crimes in Iraq, was leaked via WikiLeaks, plus all those WikiLeaked State Department cables have forced the removal of at least 13 ambassadors, having been declared persona non grata for the behavior in the host countries on behalf of multinationals against their hosts.
  • It's a reckless, amoral organization, that doesn't care who it hurts, doesn't care if it gets blood on its hand, and could care less about the fate of the people who supply its documents. What the world needs, and still has plenty of, are people of good moral character, who will fight for what's right, who will take stands, and who will take risks. I have way more respect for the three young women of Pussy Riot and what they have accomplished than anything Wikileaks has done.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I corrected that for you.

      (PS Valerie Plame ring a bell?)

      • by macbeth66 (204889)

        Yeah, what about her?

        I think you just proved the opposite of what you wanted to prove. She got her message out. She testified before the Congress, Press and the American people. Its just that no one cared enough. Democracy is about freedom, but it is not free. It takes a lot of hard work and no one is going to hand it to you.

    • by penix1 (722987) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:58AM (#41121633) Homepage

      It's a reckless, amoral organization, that doesn't care who it hurts, doesn't care if it gets blood on its hand, and could care less about the fate of the people who supply its documents. What the world needs, and still has plenty of, are people of good moral character, who will fight for what's right, who will take stands, and who will take risks. I have way more respect for the three young women of Pussy Riot and what they have accomplished than anything Wikileaks has done.

      This is rich. In the US we don't have investigative journalism anymore and haven't had it since Iran-Contra for political and Vietnam for war coverage. In both circumstances, the government learned not to allow the media too close. That is why reporters were not allowed to investigate Iraq and Afghanistan on their own without being "imbedded". That is why you have no focus on the trillions spent on these war efforts and no reporting on the corruption of our government by the deep pockets of those who financially gain from fear (read Homeland Security) and war (read military industrial complex). Instead what we get for "news" is spoon fed us by the Pentagon and the White House and taken as gospel. It then gets repeated by every new organization without a single fact verified. In short, what we got for new organizations are merely propaganda machines.

      • by dcblogs (1096431) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:11AM (#41121693) Journal
        This is a canard. Oh the media's spineless, everything it publishes is spoonfed, etc. That's just garbage. The real problem is we too many people don't want to think critically anymore; who would rather whine than ask questions or participate. They outsource responsibility for civic engagement to other people. That's why they don't notice that there are many, many reporters who are committed to discovering the truth and who take risks to do so.
        • I started to find you some links to big important national issues that weren't reported on the major evening news outlets... Then I gave up because:
          0. I realized it wouldn't matter, you'll never change your mind. Protip: Chinese news and the BBC have better coverage of what's going on in America, give international news a watch from time to time, you'll see the blatant discrepancies; You can even do your own fact checking. Oh that's in line with what you just said, eh? No, it's not. I personally think

          • by Pretzalzz (577309)

            But the BBC is broadcast in the US! From my local npr station: midnight-5am 7 days a week "BBC world service", m-f 5am-6am "BBC World Update", m-f 9am-10am, m-f 8pm-9pm "The World"[a collaboration of the BBC and PRI]. That's 1/3 of the programming time monday through friday including 2 prime hours. It's on pbs on tv 7:30pm-8pm. And of course its on BBC America. So you can hardly say the BBC is better than news broadcast in the US when the BBC itself broadcasts in the US.

        • by sgt_doom (655561) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @02:29PM (#41123757)
          You're an idiot and woefully ignorant of the financial history of the Corporate-owned propaganda machine in America today. Study your frigging history, douchey, and then read the report below. . .

          http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]

      • by dcblogs (1096431)
        Who moderates this crap anyway? "Score 5 for, Insightful."
      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:22AM (#41121759)

        This is rich. In the US we don't have investigative journalism anymore

        Wikileaks was neither investigative nor journalism. It was a data dump of sensitive information. Anyone that doesnt know the difference, such as apparently yourself, can offer no opinion that would be worth consuming on the subject. You are already too far gone to have any real grasp of reality.

        • by Smauler (915644) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:58AM (#41122007)

          GP wasn't claiming Wikileaks is investigative journalism (at least that's my reading of it), it was claiming that it fills a similar role that investigative journalism used to. Back in the day investigative journalism used to be used to hold governments to account a lot more effectively than it does now - without it being effective, the government has carte blanche to do what they like and control the media. Wikileaks and sites like it, whether you love or loathe them, do mean governments are more accountable for their actions. Without both sites like these and investigative journalism, governments could be completely unaccountable to the populace.

        • Wikileaks was neither investigative nor journalism. It was a data dump of sensitive information. Anyone that doesnt know the difference, such as apparently yourself, can offer no opinion that would be worth consuming on the subject. You are already too far gone to have any real grasp of reality.

          This is a straw man as big as a house! The GP never said that WikiLeaks was investigative or journalism.

      • by macbeth66 (204889)

        >>> That is why reporters were not allowed to investigate Iraq and Afghanistan

        Sorry, this is a load of drivel. We know more about those two wars than any war before it. The problem might be, might be, I said, that we know too much about it. War is an ugly mess and most can't deal with the reality of it.

        If you really believe that you have not gotten anything about the war, except what the US Government wants you to hear about, then you have not been looking too closely. There are a lot of non-US

      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        Thanx and exactamundo, Good Citizen!

        Back when Louis Brandeis wrote, Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It, people had at least an inkling of who owned anything, and everything. Today, the typical Ameritard stooge is clueless as to who owns JPMorgan Chase, ExxonMobil, GE, AT&T, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, BP, etc., ad nauseum. They just appointed retired ExxonMobil stooge (CEO) Lee Raymond to "investigate" JPMorgan Chase (and I believe Raymond still sits on the

      • Oops, forgot this great report for ya,

        http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]
    • by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:55AM (#41121975) Journal

      I have way more respect for the three young women of Pussy Riot and what they have accomplished than anything Wikileaks has done.

      Except that they can't help us. For democracy to exist there they have to do it their way, which is what Pussy Riot was attempting to do. For democracy to survive in the West we have to defend it our way because freedom has potent domestic enemies. The truth hurts those enemies and neither you or I am innocent whilst we are choking on apathy and ignorance. This isn't a question of Nation or Party. The corruption that poisons our world governments seeks to crush any freedom of speech and expression of democracy anywhere. That's the reality we live with everyday.

      What the world needs, and still has plenty of, are people of good moral character, who will fight for what's right, who will take stands, and who will take risks.

      If a man hiding in a Embassy because he faces life imprisonment for standing up for the truth in the face of corruption isn't exactly that then who is? Murdoch, Faux News? Ok he has flaws, what human doesn't? Does that mean Wikileaks is tarred by his iniquities? Whose opinions sway judgement and control rhetoric, the corrupted organisations that own the media outlets around the world whose interests are at stake?

      The irony in all of this is astounding. An Australian, is a refugee in an Ecuador embassy, on British soil who seek to extradite him to Sweden where he fears extradition to the United States where he faces life in prison for exercising freedom of speech and defending democracy.

      Wikileaks is the front line for the war on freedom, all our freedom. While the lies rule our governments we are all slaves.

    • by Archtech (159117) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @10:16AM (#41122097)

      It's a reckless, amoral organization, that doesn't care who it hurts, doesn't care if it gets blood on its hand [sic]

      Yes, that is true of the US Federal Government. That is what you meant, isn't it?

      and could care less about the fate of the people who supply its documents.

      Now maybe you are referring to Wikileaks. But your argument is disingenuous in the extreme. Ever hear the story about the mice who decided to bell the cat? A wonderful idea in principle, as then they would always know when the cat was approaching. Only one small practical problem: who gets the honour of actually belling the cat? Knowing that the odds of dying horribly are very high. My name for someone who deliberately volunteers for a mission like this is "hero". The fate of the people who supply the documents is altogether, and solely, the responsibility of those who inflict that fate. Your government.

      Remember what Benjamin Franklin said, back when there was some hope that the USA would actually become a free country? "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety". Well, Bradley Manning refused to give up his liberty in order to obtain safety - and now he is being punished for it. Assange has laid his life and liberty on the line, and he may very well be next.

      What the world needs, and still has plenty of, are people of good moral character, who will fight for what's right, who will take stands, and who will take risks.
      I have way more respect for the three young women of Pussy Riot and what they have accomplished than anything Wikileaks has done.

      I'll assume you are misinformed, rather than anarchically vicious. Read this, and say that again:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/23/the-secret-history-of-pussy-riot/ [counterpunch.org]

  • Just a coincidence or a witch hunt, amazing how things fall apart when you are Enemy of the State.
    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      Right that! But Julian Assange is still a sack of shit. WikiLeaks on the other hand is a great idea that should be in the hands any one person. Especially Assange.

      • by Sique (173459)

        Only a person like Julian Assange would have the balls to lead WikiLeaks. People who better fit into society tend to... yes... rather try to fit into society.

      • by Rei (128717) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:59AM (#41122017) Homepage

        Wait, a person can do good things *and* bad things? Stop it, you're hurting my simple brain! Can't conceive of two such concepts about the same person at the same time!

      • by Archtech (159117)

        But Julian Assange is still a sack of shit.

        So now we know your opinion about that. Do you have any facts with which to support your dismissive condemnation?

  • Submitter's idea of "need" and mine are apparently worlds apart. I need Wikileaks like I need a shovel for that big steaming pile of dragon shit in my front yard that doesn't exist.

    • You only need food, shelter, water and a hole to excrete your waste into. All of which can be provided in a concrete cell, which does exist. Living life only worrying about your utmost needs is a recipe for disaster. You may not need Wikileaks, but we would really like some of the corruption going on to stop... Pointing out the disparity between what we believe about our rulers and what is actually going on is important. We may not need Wikileaks precisely, but we do need the service they provide.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    #1 Reason - Pentagon Papers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagon_Papers [wikipedia.org] .

    When the USA keeps secrets, the entire world suffers. Sad, but true. There probably isn't a single country that the USA hasn't screwed over in one way or another, including herself.

    To the rest of the world, it is the government, not the people making these dangerous decisions. It has happened with both political parties. JFK lied and every President since has too. The military has kept many secrets.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Sadly much revisionistic bullcrap has been spewed about the Kennedy brothers, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., after their respective assassinations --- and much of it planted disinformation. Try reading some more accurate public sources, please ...

      Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy presidency, by Donald Gibson

      Thy Will Be Done, by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett

      Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, by David Talbot

      JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass

      A Terrible Mistake,
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cWELTYox.net minus author> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:54AM (#41121601)

    But not Assange. He's not WikiLeaks. Simple as that. He betrayed them with this massive stunt.

  • Easily swayed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RivenAleem (1590553) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:57AM (#41121623)

    If you are the kind of person who's easily swayed by the media's depiction of Assange, then yes, you most definitely need wikileaks

  • The problem with most ideological stances, is that they only work if the ideolody is applied to everyone else

    Hence, Wikileaks stands for openness and public scrutiny of everything and everyone except Wikileaks. How much money has Wikileaks received in donations, and how much of it went in to Assange's pockets? Maybe an insider could post the answer on Wikileaks. No, wait...

    Communism works great if everyone is equal and everything is shared equally... unless you happen to be a Party Member, in which case yo

    • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@el[ ]ugent.be ['is.' in gap]> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:49AM (#41121929) Homepage

      The problem with most ideological stances, is that they only work if the ideolody is applied to everyone else

      Hence, Wikileaks stands for openness and public scrutiny of everything and everyone except Wikileaks. How much money has Wikileaks received in donations, and how much of it went in to Assange's pockets? Maybe an insider could post the answer on Wikileaks. No, wait...

      No, wait... Indeed. They already posted financial transparency reports on Wikileaks by the Wau Holland Foundation [wikipedia.org], in the form of a press release [wikileaks.org] no less.

      Freedom of Information is a great idea, until you realise that all governments and companies need to undertake certain discussing in private in able to function effectively.

      While that is true in the general sense, there is also the fact that governments describing themselves as democratic (let alone shining examples of that) should be as diplomatic and as open as possible. And at least our Western governments have not been all that great about that lately, ranging from ACTA, to war crimes (Abu Grahib, "Collateral Murder"-the-full-version-and-not-the-Wikileaks-edit), to unsavoury governmental-corporation incest (STRATFOR, News Corp), to ...

      Wikileaks (even if it remained as effective as in its heydays) would never be able to get its hands on every piece of confidential information nor be able to publish it. Just like the fact that we beat ACTA doesn't mean that the IP-crazies are suddenly completely stopped in their tracks. Or just like the fact that we get to vote doesn't mean that corruption doesn't exist nor that we live in an ideal representative democracy.

      However, society always has been and presumably always will be a melting pot influenced by everything that happens. Wikileaks, beating ACTA and voting are all part of that. In the grand scheme of things, I see them as counteracting forces against wrongfully denied freedom-of-information requests, warrantless wiretapping, trying to get IP-legislation enacted under the guise of free trade agreements without public oversight, ... I don't see that in the sense of fighting fire with fire or an eye for an eye, but as opposite influences that affect society as a whole and how it will continue to evolve.

      And the problem appears to be that without actions that "open up" things, the natural reaction of many people in power appears to be to keep much more secret than is warranted or than is a good idea. Reasons could be because that is the way of the least resistance, or because those people at large probably often genuinely believe that they do know best, and that public debate would only slow down things and/or muddy the facts.

      That behaviour however has to be counteracted and compensated for in some way to keep a democratic society healthy, and as far as I'm concerned Wikileaks is one expression of that in its own unconventional and loose-cannon way. I don't think Wikileaks is dangerous to a healthy society though. It will obviously cause at least inconveniences and may even lead to deaths or other catastraphies, and there are many more desirable ways to achieve the same goals (such as freedom-of-information requests, and the normally automatic public oversight over creating any kind of legislation). However, I think Wikileaks' wide general public support (or at least sympathy) is mainly a reaction to the failure of exactly these more convention means of openness in democratic governance.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:04AM (#41121659) Homepage

    Why we need WikiLeaks: Remember the article on the Australian tax authority the other day where they want expansive powers to snoop on businesses on the off-chance they might be paying less taxes than the government would like?

    OK, then, we the citizens need powers to snoop on government bureaucrats on the off-chance they're doing something illegal. If they're not doing anything wrong, they should have nothing to fear.

    • The disturbing thing is that you see a few people in every Wikileaks story saying that we have no right to know what our government is doing. We are the government! We have every right to know, and I firmly believe that politicians should be hounded by investigative reporters like paparazzi hound vapid celebrities. However, as a society, we are more interested in who Tom Cruise is currently dating (or if he's secretly gay) than we are how much money a state Senator is embezzling. Even when we do get any kind of investigative reporting, it's usually just sex scandals. Wikipedia even keeps a list of them [wikipedia.org].

      Wikileaks isn't exactly my ideal candidate, but it's one of the few organizations that's willing to actually shine a light at something important. Everyone else is either too scared or compensated not to do so.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        We need a new movement.

        The first phase of government transparency was the Freedom of Information Act, followed by similar acts at the state level.

        The next phase needs to be cameras installed in every government official's office, running all the time, and accessible via web (defense excepted).

        Backroom deals, sweetheart contracts, all that stuff: either capture on camera or prevent it from happening or make it much more difficult.

  • 2nd Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:53AM (#41121959)
    Information is power; If a government is forced to be wide open then they lose power. Open information should replace or be added to the 2nd Amendment. The whole point of the 2nd Amendment was to act as a brake on out of control government. But at this point in history a bunch of guys running around with 9mm pistols isn't going to change a thing. But open information can change everything. Corrupt contracts become a whole lot harder if the whole process becomes open. Things like ACTA become impossible if every step of the lobbyists become open and accountable. When I am talking open I mean really really open. Things like the DHS would be wide open. The only time I would think the government should be allowed to be even slightly closed would be open investigations which would require a judge to say, OK this is closed for 30 days. Then wiretaps and whatnot would be effective. But the second the investigation ends the records are instantly open.

    All finance should be open right down to the paperclips. Wasteful spending can't happen if everyone can take a peek into their area of expertise and say, "Whoa there cowboy. You don't buy laptops for $2000 and a service plan of another $1000 per year." Or "That isn't the right concrete for an overpass. It will fall down in 10 years."

    Think of the steps that had to be taken in private in order to create the Dick Murtha Airport.

    Keep in mind that there are Nordic countries where they publish income tax records onto the internet. They do record who looks though. So you can see your neighbour's taxes but they can see that you are a nosy bastard. The result has been some fantastically rich people somehow claiming around $100,000 in income being busted by people finding this and then it becoming front page news.

    How many times have the police gotten out of control where the whole thing was dealt with "internally"? Open government would end this.
  • And the world is full of fucking idiots for being duped once again.

    • Doesn't anybody remember the leak describing how they were going to destroy wikileaks? They've been doing it.

      Wikileaks is being made a negative example of what free press gets for doing it's duty to mankind. It needs to be a positive example and that is enough reason to defend Wikileaks. Furthermore, the illegal and high disregard for the meaning of law (by using twisted technical letters of the law) HARMS everybody going forward not only the press but it terms of how far officials can acceptably abuse the

      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        Thanx for pointing out that Army report which came out around 2008 (I think?) planning their destruction.

        http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]

        Recommended reading:
        Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy presidency, by Donald Gibson

        Thy Will Be Done, by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett

        Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, by David Talbot

        JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass

        A Terrible Mistake, by H.P. Albarelli

        The Yankee and Cowboy War, by Carl Oglesby

        Echo F
  • You answered it yourself in the summary, SomePgmr, we need an outlet for discovery and whistleblowers that is neutral and independent. Once you become the news (thank you, Julian Assange, for being a douchebag and completely screwing over the organization that was once yours), you are neither neutral nor independent, because now you have a foot in the game.

    We need a faceless, boring, monotone organization where the only intriguing elements are the documents and information it provides to everyone. No stupid

  • Please read this from the Nordic News Network:

    http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]

    This report covers the facts and only the facts, including why the UK arrest was illegal form those rules and laws governing an European Arrest Warrant (EAW). They didn't cover all the surrounding and important stuff, as I would, namely that all those anti-Assange players in Sweden are connected financially in one way or the other with the rightwing Bonnier family, owner of one of the top 10 global media compan

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