"The Jewish people as a whole will be its own Messiah. It will attain world domination by the dissolution of other races...and by the establishment of a world republic in which everywhere the Jews will exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the Children of Israel...will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition..." (Karl Marx in a letter to Baruch Levy, quoted in Review de Paris, June 1, 1928, p. 574)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

If Assange is a spy, then so am I


The first step to understanding Wikyleaks is to stop imagining Julian Assange is Wikyleaks. He is NOT. He is just a member of a very large movement (More than a few thousands actually) The next important thing is to support the other scapegoat (Bradley Manning currently held in solitary confinement at a military Gulag in Quantico, Virginia. He is not allowed to see his parents or other visitors.)

By Mark Lee Hunter

The job and duty of journalists is to expose lies and their consequences. Julian Assange has shown that one does not need to be a journalist to help. That does not make him a spy.

The founder of Wikileaks is a spy? That's what Sarah Palin says. But that makes me a spy, too. I don't agree. I'm a journalist. And what Julian Assange is doing is a form of journalism: He is publishing the news.

If you're like most people, you think that journalists are liars and lackeys, spouting “news” that is barely credible, bent by the profit of the big interests that run the media. (That's what the Pew Center's surveys tell us.) This time, the political class is complaining because a website and its allies in the press are publishing information that is absolutely credible.

Has publishing the truth become a crime?
Wikileaks: the truth is not treason, by Ryan Gallagher

"There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy." – Joseph Pulitzer.

At approximately 6pm on Wednesday, Amazon ousted wikileaks.org from its servers after concerted and aggressive political pressure from America’s Homeland Security Committee. The move came after three solid days of ‘Cablegate’ – the largest intelligence leak in history. 251,287 dispatches from more than 250 US embassies and consulates, to be published slowly but surely in the weeks and months ahead. Among them are allegations of corruption, cover-ups and secret collusion between US and UK officials; dirty tactics exposed on a grand scale. Politicians, diplomats and corporations across the world must now be trembling. Could they be next?

As international reaction testifies, the repercussions of Cablegate are massive. Wikileaks is changing the world without invitation, and the political establishment does not approve. A global witch-hunt for Julian Assange, Wikileaks’ co-founder and figurehead, is now in full swing. Assange should be "hunted" and "executed" say prominent American politicians, who want him extradited and charged under the country’s 1917 Espionage Act, a law introduced to combat socialists and pacifists during the Red Scare. “Obama should put out a contract [to have Assange assassinated] and maybe use a drone or something,” said Professor Tom Flanagan, a former advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While in France, the birthplace of the Enlightenment, Wikileaks was described as a “threat to democracy”.

Even David Cameron, a devout convert to the church of “A New Politics”, has strongly condemned Wikileaks for their hand in Cablegate. “We condemn the unauthorised release of classified information," his spokesman said on Monday. “Governments need to be able to operate on a confidential basis when dealing with this kind of information.” Yet it was only 10 months ago, in February, that Cameron stood before an audience and proclaimed his commitment to open government and transparency. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said at the time.

In February, though, Cameron was not Prime Minister. He was still masquerading as a fresh faced candidate for change – a new alternative to the ugly political past. He could afford to pontificate about wild things like “open government” and “transparency” because there was no way to test him on it. He could tell the public what they wanted to hear, and then backtrack from his position once in government – the oldest trick in the book. His Cablegate position confirms this is indeed what he has done, quite blatantly, on the principle of “transparency”.

So far Cameron’s strategy on Cablegate has been one of avoidance and denial. "We are not going to get drawn into the detail of the documents," said his spokesman. The Prime Minister was instead in Zurich yesterday alongside David Beckham and Prince William, making a failed bid to host the World Cup in 2018. But he cannot evade the encroaching reality of this exposé for much longer. According to the cables released so far, British officials not only promised to protect US interests during the Iraq inquiry, but also made a deal with the US to allow the country to keep cluster bombs in the UK despite the ban on the munitions signed by Gordon Brown. The cluster bombs issue, it is said, was deliberately concealed from parliament and was approved by then Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Clearly this raises serious questions about what appears to be a festering culture of backroom democracy across the western world, in which Britain is complicit. Diplomatic secrecy, as critics of Wikileaks argue, may well be in some cases entirely justified and necessary – however not if it means nurturing what Assange himself describes as the “corruption of governance".

The central problem, it seems, is that this “corruption of governance” runs so deep. It is embedded within the very DNA of the political class and has been for generations, hence the high-level, across the board political resistance and opposition to the brand of total transparency advocated by Wikileaks.

Yet as politicians and other powerful figures call for the head of Assange, in their haste they have forgotten he is merely the figurehead of the organisation. The human face of Wikileaks, he is bold, brave and deeply principled. His commitment and dedication to truth and justice should be applauded. But they could hang, draw and quarter Assange and Wikileaks would still survive – thrive, even. “You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea,” as the civil rights activist Medgar Evers once said.

And an idea is precisely what Wikileaks has become. It is no longer simply a website – it is a pure expression of democratic ideals, a philosophy realised by the force of technology.

The powerful may condemn and attempt to repress Wikileaks and all it represents, but the situation has long since spun far from their control. Facilitated by the internet, a new battleground has been established. All traditions now hang in the balance and all bets are off.

Let's be clear on a key technical matter: You don't have to be a spy to obtain such information. Sometimes looking at things that aren't secret tells you where to find the secret. (That's how the real spies usually work.) Sometimes the information is simply left, by mistake, where someone can grab it. And very often, someone gives it to you.

No one seems to be asking the question, but it is central to this firestorm: Why would someone - especially someone who works, say, for the government or a big bank - do such a thing? Why would they give away the secrets of the institutions they work for?

There are two main reasons that people talk: pride (“Yes, we can!”) and pain (“No, we can't”). Of the two, pain is by far the stronger motivator. You will tell your doctor things that you might not tell your best friend. And some people in our governments know the kind of things that can make you sick just thinking about them.

Why tell such things to a journalist? Because when you know a dirty secret, it eats you up. The only way to feel better is to tell someone, and the best cure is to tell someone who can tell the world. The dream is that telling the truth will put an end to the dirty secret, and we can go back to doing our jobs as if we believed in them.

This is the real secret that Wikileaks has so stunningly recalled to view: Some of the people in our own governments are so disgusted by what they must know, see and do to keep their jobs that they will tell someone else about it. They want certain ways of doing business to stop, and they don't believe that any other means can be effective.

But why did they go to Wikileaks instead of a newspaper in the first place? Because they lost confidence in the news media. It was not so long ago that when people were revolted by what they saw happening, they went to journalists. Now, people trust us so little that they give the news that matters to a website. The success of Wikileaks is a terrible comment on the news industry.

But it would be even worse for journalists if Wikileaks did not exist, because it is proving that if we do our jobs as we are supposed to, and listen to what people want to tell us, we can indeed make it much more difficult for certain things to continue, things that should never have happened in the first place.

Will we do that job even if we can be charged with espionage? I doubt it. And that is no doubt one of the forces driving the controversy over Wikileaks: If charges can be made to stick against Assange, they can be made to stick against any reporter who publishes similar news.

There is no doubt in my mind that a good number of the people screaming for Assange's head would like the news media either to go away, or to function as a docile servant of the powers that be. Of course a society can exist without watchdog media, and many do. But those are generally awful places to live, except for the people who own them.

If the government has secrets, let it try to keep them. Any adult understands that running an organization may require its leaders to lie from time to time. But the job and duty of journalists is to expose those lies and their consequences. Julian Assange has shown that one does not need to be a journalist to help. That does not make him a spy.

Hounding Assange and criminalizing whistleblowers will do far more damage to democracy than a pack of scribes and hackers ever could. You don't need to be a spy to guess that secret. The people screaming for Assange's blood are the architects and allies of disastrous policies that are being rejected even within the government. They are trying to conceal their failure, and Wikileaks is the proof that they failed. It must not be silenced, and journalists should be the first to know it.

Mark Lee Hunter is Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre. He was a participant in openDemocracy's New News Seminar He is the author of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO 2009) and a founding member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

With us or Against us

Read Johann Hari's commentary:

Every one of us owes a debt to Julian Assange. Thanks to him, we now know that our governments are pursuing policies that place you and your family in considerably greater danger. Wikileaks has informed us they have secretly launched war on yet another Muslim country, sanctioned torture, kidnapped innocent people from the streets of free countries and intimidated the police into hushing it up, and covered up the killing of 15,000 civilians – five times the number killed on 9/11. Each one of these acts has increased the number of jihadis. We can only change these policies if we know about them – and Assange has given us the black-and-white proof. More


While you were watching Fox:

WikiLeaks has revealed the National Socialist Movement's neo-nazi internal workings.

August 21st, 2009


While you were watching CNN:

WikiLeaks revealed allegations of U.S. troops abusing Iraqi prisoners even after Abu Ghraib.

October 23rd, 2010


WikiLeaks brought you:

Mission Accomplished
The WikiLeaks Iraq war logs have caused the UN to urge for a full U.S. torture investigation.

November 16th, 2010


While you were watching ABC:

WikiLeaks uncovered the truth behind Iceland's 2009 financial crisis, bringing many corrupt managers to justice.

August 1st, 2009


While you were reading the New York Times:

It's all about Freedom
WikiLeaks has revealed how U.S. soldiers used Iraqi civilians as human bomb detectors.

October 23rd, 2010


While you were reading the London Times:

WikiLeaks has convinced the European Parliament to form a transatlantic inquiry into torture cases in Iraq.

November 11th, 2010


Information Who cares?

WikiLeaks released a video showing a U.S. army helicopter slaughtering Reuters journalists and Iraqi children in cold blood.

April 3rd, 2010


Who cares about Numbers

WikiLeaks exposed hidden logs of the Afghanistan war showing high rates of civilian casualties and other facts previously denied by the US.

July 28th, 2010


WikiLeaks revealed more than 15,000 civilian deaths in Iraq that had previously been concealed by the U.S. government.

October 23rd, 2010


So what else is new?

WikiLeaks has revealed hundreds of significant Afghanistan war incidents that were hidden by the U.S. government.

July 25th, 2010


Another Mission Accomplished
WikiLeaks has released the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.

October 26th, 2010


WikiLeaks revealed the previously unreported deaths of four Canadian soldiers at the hands of U.S. friendly fire in Afghanistan.

July 27th, 2010


WikiLeaks exposed how the U.S. pressured Spain to drop the case of a cameraman that was killed in a 2003 attack on journalists in Baghdad.

December 1st, 2010


WikiLeaks revealed how the CIA kidnapped an innocent German and tortured him for months, then attempting to stop Germany from arresting its operatives.

December 1st, 2010


WikiLeaks revealed how the CIA kidnapped an innocent German and tortured him for months, then attempting to stop Germany from arresting its operatives.

December 1st, 2010


WikiLeaks has shown how U.S. troops repeatedly failed to detail civilian deaths in Iraq, even in large-scale seiges.

October 22nd, 2010


WikiLeaks has revealed illegal government wiretapping in Canada.

August 6th, 2010


WikiLeaks showed how the Obama administration handed over Iraqi detainees despite reports of torture.

October 23rd, 2010


WikiLeaks exposed a U.S. chopper that slaughtered surrendering Iraqis after ruling that surrendering to a helicopter was "illegal".

October 23rd, 2010


WikiLeaks revealed how the CIA and Hillary Clinton ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on UN leadership, even collecting DNA data.

December 2nd, 2010


WikiLeaks clarified the terms of operation at Guantanamo Bay, one of the most controversial detention centers in the world.

November 14th, 2007


WikiLeaks has demonstrated how Australia, Finland and Denmark are using child pornography as an excuse to censor legitimate websites.

June 29th, 2009


WikiLeaks ended the corrupt rule of the Arap-Moi family in Kenya.

July 26th, 2010


WikiLeaks exposed Scientology, a religion that scams its followers into a delusional set of beliefs in exchange for their money.

March 11th, 2008


WikiLeaks released Thailand's classified Internet censorship list.

December 21st, 2008


WikiLeaks showed how the U.S. tried to thwart Spanish probes into Gitmo torture and CIA 'extraordinary rendition' cases.

December 1st, 2010


What else?

WikiLeaks exposed 217 cases of UN peace-keepers being accused of sexually abusing and impregnating girls in eastern Congo.

January 14th, 2009


WikiLeaks detailed December 2006, the bloodiest month in Iraq's war, with 103 civilians dying every day.

October 15th, 2010


etc ... etc ...

But most important of all:
Mission Accomplished
WikiLeaks has never exposed a source and has provided lawyers and financial backing for the trial of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning.

October 19th, 2010


Uncle Sam (israel's bitch), the world's Bully has been exposed. period. Labeling Wikileaks a 'terrorist organisation' is as ridiculous as prosecuting Assange for espionage.

Julian Assange is spending his second night in a 600 year-old dump cell without heating whilst some "talking Heads" are busy calling him names. The question to ask now is: will they break him? The answer?

You have NO excuse not to fight for your freedom, any way you personally deem appropriate.



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9 December 2010 at 22:50  

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