View Full Version : Taking a WikiLeak...

December 9th, 2010, 08:08 PM
I don't know what I think about this Wikileaks stuff.

And my impression over here was that it was really not seen as such a huge deal.

In fact it seems that those in charge here are mostly pissed at the cover-up of the material... and not so much the revelations.

But I smell some hypocracy on both sides:

Europeans Criticize Fierce U.S. Response to Leaks
Published: December 9, 2010

PARIS — For many Europeans, Washington’s fierce reaction to the flood of secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, indicating a post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles.

While the Obama administration has done nothing in the courts to block the publication of any of the leaked documents, or even, as of yet, tried to indict the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, for any crime, American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news,” while Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands” and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said that whoever leaked the cables should be executed.

For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in London, which like The New York Times has published the latest WikiLeaks trove, the official American reaction “is tipping over towards derangement.” Most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he noted, while concluding: “Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.”

John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”

A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to China’s cyberattack on Google. “Even in authoritarian countries,” she said, “information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” To Mr. Naughton now, “that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.”

The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking Washington over its reaction to the leaks, suggesting that the Americans were being hypocritical. “If it is a full-fledged democracy, then why have they put Mr. Assange away in jail? You call that democracy?" Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said during a news briefing with the French prime minister, François Fillon. Mr. Assange is in jail in Britain while Sweden seeks his extradition to face rape charges.

Mr. Putin then referred to a Russian proverb that roughly translates as “the pot calling the kettle black.”

“You know, out in the countryside, we have a saying, ‘Someone else’s cow may moo, but yours should keep quiet,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “So I would like to shoot that puck right back at our American colleagues.”

German newspapers were similarly harsh. Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the United States will only be further tattered with Assange’s new martyr status.” It added that “the openly embraced hope of the U.S. government that along with Assange, WikiLeaks will disappear from the scene, is questionable.”

Mr. Assange is being hounded, the paper said, “even though no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that Washington’s reputation had been damaged by the leaks. But the reputation of United States leaders “is being damaged much more right now as they attempt — with all their means — to muzzle WikiLeaks” and Mr. Assange. They are the first, the paper claimed, to have “used the power of the Internet against the United States. That is why they are being mercilessly pursued. That is why the government is betraying one of the principles of democracy.”

The Berliner Zeitung continued: “The U.S. is betraying one of its founding myths: freedom of information. And they are doing so now, because for the first time since the end of the cold war, they are threatened with losing worldwide control of information.”

Nicole Bacharan, a scholar of the United States at the Institut d’Études Politiques, said that in France, “There is a fracture between those who consider that American diplomacy is efficient and understands the world and has a positive influence and those who are distrustful of the objectives of that diplomacy.” What struck her most, she said, was that “pro-Americans have been harsher than the anti-Americans here.”

But Renaud Girard, a respected reporter for the center-right Le Figaro, said that he was impressed by the generally high quality of the American diplomatic corps. “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in U.S. diplomacy,” he said. “They really believe in human rights in Africa and China and Russia and Asia. They really believe in democracy and human rights. People accuse the Americans of double standards all the time. But it’s not true here. If anything, the diplomats are almost naïve, and I don’t think these leaks will jeopardize the United States. Most will see the diplomats as honest, sincere and not so cynical.”

Even Laurent Joffrin, the editor of the leftist daily Libération, defended the right to diplomatic secrecy and said one must reflect on a “demand for transparency at any price.” States must have secrets, he said, so long as they have oversight from elected representatives. “It is a paradox to see WikiLeaks concentrate its attacks essentially on democracies,” Mr. Joffrin said. “And it is rather comforting to see that the secret exchanges of the great diplomatic powers are very little different in content from what they say in public.”

The strongest attack on WikiLeaks came from Figaro’s editor, Étienne Mougeotte, who called the publication of cables like the one listing sites considered strategic by Washington “a precious gift” to terrorists. The leaks, he said, serve “those who decided to harm American power, to destabilize the world’s large industrial nations, to put in place a maximum of disorder in international relations.”

Mr. Assange, he wrote, “is not the kind, righter of wrongs of the Web that some have wished to present to us — he is at best a dangerous, irresponsible man, or at worst a perverse delinquent.”

Russian officials, above all, seem to be delighting in the Americans’ embarrassment, with some suggesting that Mr. Assange get the Nobel Peace Prize. Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s cheeky and quotable ambassador to NATO, suggested that Mr. Assange’s arrest demonstrated that there was “no media freedom” in the West. His “fate,” Mr. Rogozin opined, amounted to “political persecution” and a disregard for human rights.

Maïa de la Baume and Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris, and Clifford J. Levy from Moscow.


December 10th, 2010, 08:25 AM
Did not read the article (I will later).

The only thing I can see as a major blunder is his mass release of all of them w/o omitting the ones that might actually cause some harm.

There were several in there that detailed sensitive points that would either cause MAJOR disruption or are not adequately protected (and why). Now, most of these things are probably "duh" situations, like the Russian (gas?) line, but others are not. Also, this pretty much just makes a shopping list for these guys to start doing research on.

He really should have been a bit more careful.

As for the others? that is our own antiquated governments fault for WRITING SO MUCH BS DOWN ELECTRONICALLY! If you have something bad to say about someone, you do NOT put it on E-mail or other forms of E-communication or storage! How many times has it happened that information like that has been "leaked".

So what if many people think Berl' is a womanizer. You really need to have an official file telling people of that that must be kept top secret?

And the really bad thing? I think most of western civilization does the same thing. Even though politicians in Greece, France and other nations are annoyed by the comments released, they are also shufling madly trying to make sure their own comments are not compromised in a similar fashion.

And as for "surprise sex"?

What a load.

December 18th, 2010, 02:49 PM
Leakage: Very Naughty (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7887&p=347353#post347353) ...

December 18th, 2010, 06:03 PM
This one upsets me the most:

· Most cookies left out for Santa end up being fed to the reindeer.

January 14th, 2011, 06:52 PM
Wikileaks -- Truth (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/world/africa/15region.html?hp) and Consequences (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/world/africa/15tunis.html?hp) ...

Tunisia's Wikileaks Revolution, Ctd

THE DAILY DISH (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/a-wikileaks-revolution.html)
14 JAN 2011 04:40 PM

Earlier this week, in a piece that has proved prescient (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/tunisias-wikileaks-revolution.html), Elizabeth Dickinson discussed (http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/13/wikileaks_and_the_tunisia_protests) how certain unflattering cables (http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/1/14/wikileaks-2009-special-how-should-the-us-deal-with-a-trouble.html) "acted as a catalyst" for the coup:

The country's ruling family is described as "The Family" -- a mafia-esque elite who have their hands in every cookie jar in the entire economy. "President Ben Ali is aging, his regime is sclerotic and there is no clear successor," a June 2009 cable reads (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/217138). And to this kleptocracy there is no recourse; one June 2008 cable (http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2008/06/08TUNIS679.html) claims: "persistent rumors of corruption, coupled with rising inflation and continued unemployment, have helped to fuel frustration with the GOT [government of Tunisia] and have contributed to recent protests in southwestern Tunisia. With those at the top believed to be the worst offenders, and likely to remain in power, there are no checks in the system."

Of course, Tunisians didn't need anyone to tell them this. But the details noted in the cables -- for example, the fact that the first lady may have made massive profits (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/17/greed_is_global?page=0,4) off a private school -- stirred things up. Matters got worse, not better (as surely the government hoped), when WikiLeaks was blocked by the authorities and started seeking out dissidents and activists on social networking sites.

Vikash Yadav highlights (http://progressiverealist.org/blogpost/anonymous-attacks-tunisian-government-websites) how the hacktivist group "Anonymous", which made its name targeting Mastercard and Paypay for boycotting Wikileaks, retaliated against government websites. The truth is: this is a major, er, coup for Wikileaks and the transparency it promotes - especially against tyrants like Ben Ali.


January 14th, 2011, 07:00 PM
Today in Tunis ...


January 14th, 2011, 08:08 PM
DC Public Affairs Firm Dumped Tunisia Last Week

The Washington Media Group was hired to improve
the autocratic regime's image. Well, that didn't work.

MOTHER JONES (http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/washington-media-group-tunisia-pr-firm)
By David Corn and Nick Baumann
Fri Jan. 14, 2011

A week before the Tunisian government collapsed on Friday (http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/whats-happening-tunisia-explained), with its longtime dictator fleeing the country in the face of massive popular protests, a Washington, DC public relations firm that had been hired by the government abruptly severed its relationship the North African nation.

Last May, the Tunisian regime retained the Washington Media Group, which also represents private equity funds, aerospace companies, unions, and medical research companies, and banking giant Citigroup, to help promote its image abroad. In a press release announcing the contract (http://www.pr.com/press-release/234707), WMG referred to Tunisia as an "international business success story." At the time, John Leary, a partner at WMG, described Tunisia as a "peaceful, Islamic country" and a "stable democracy" with a "terrific story to share with the world." (Tunisia ranks 144th of 167 countries ranked on The Economist's Democracy Index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index), a widely accepted measure of political freedom. But it's farther ahead on some measures, such as women's rights, than most of the Arab world.) The press release also claimed the deal highlighted "the firm's demonstrated successes on behalf of clients small and large."

The press release did note that Tunisia is an "important ally of the United States in combating global terrorism." A US State Department cable (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/217138) released by WikiLeaks came to the same conclusion:

Notwithstanding the frustrations of doing business here, we cannot write off Tunisia. We have too much at stake. We have an interest in preventing al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other extremist groups from establishing a foothold here. We have an interest in keeping the Tunisian military professional and neutral. We also have an interest in fostering greater political openness and respect for human rights.

Before they took the contract, top officials at WMG consulted with advisers in the State Department and inside and outside of government. "It was clear that there was potential to help this ally in the war on terror improve its image, mostly through digital work," Greg Vistica, the firm's president, tells Mother Jones. In May, Vistica said his company was "delighted with this project."

Eight months later, though, Vistica was not so delighted. Protests in Tunisia were gaining steam, and Vistica had changed his mind about working with the regime. Last Thursday he wrote to Samir Abidi, the Tunisian Minister of Communication, terminating WMG's contract with the country. "It was clear to us that the Tunisia government was not going to implement the recommendations and work product we provided," Vistica says. "We felt on principle we could not work for a government that shoots its own citizens and violates their civil rights with such abuse."

In the letter [PDF (http://motherjones.com/files/wmg-tunisia-letter.pdf)], which was obtained by Mother Jones, Vistica told Abidi his team had "done our best," but he didn't mince words about why he was terminating the deal:

...It has been and remains our view that improving your nation's image in the United States or elsewhere can only be accomplished if the reputation sought is consistent with the facts on the ground.

Recent events make it clear the Tunisian government is not inclined to heed our counsel regarding meaningful reforms. Indeed, the government's current actions and activities have undermined, or in some cases completely undone, whatever progress we made in improving Tunisia's reputation.

For these reasons, and because we are troubled by your government's apparent approach to important civil rights and civil liberties issues, Washington Media Group terminates its contract effective immediately.

The letter was also filed with the Justice Department.

Copyright ©2011 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress.

January 17th, 2011, 06:14 PM
Ex-Swiss Banker Gives Data to WikiLeaks

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/business/global/18baer.html?hp)
January 17, 2011

LONDON — A former senior Swiss bank executive said on Monday that he had given the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, details of more than 2,000 prominent individuals and companies that he contends engaged in tax evasion and other possible criminal activity.

Rudolf M. Elmer, who ran the Caribbean operations of the Swiss bank Julius Baer for eight years until he was dismissed in 2002, refused to identify any of the individuals or companies, but he told reporters at a news conference that about 40 politicians and “pillars of society” were among them.

ReutersVideo (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/17/julian-assange-tax-wikileaks-swiss) -- January 17, 2011 -- A whistleblowing Swiss banker hands supposed offshore
banking secrets to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at a London news conference on Monday.
Copyright Reuters 2011

He told The Observer newspaper over the weekend that those named in the documents come from “the U.S., Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia — from all over,” and include “business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates — from both sides of the Atlantic.”

Mr. Elmer handed two computer disks to Mr. Assange at the news conference, the first significant public event the WikiLeaks founder has held since he was arrested in London in early December after Swedish prosecutors sought to have him extradited on charges of sexual crimes there. He has denied the charges but was briefly jailed last year before bail was granted.

Wearing the same dark blue suit he has worn through his legal battles, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks would verify and release the information, including the names, in as little as two weeks. He mentioned possible partnerships with financial news organizations and suggested he would consider turning the information over to Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, which investigates financial corruption.

Mr. Elmer, who previously provided documents from his former employer to national tax authorities including the Internal Revenue Service in the United States, said he had turned to WikiLeaks to “educate society” about what he considers an unfair system that serves the rich and aids those who seek to launder money.

His recent offers to provide further data to universities and governments were spurned, he said, and he thought that the Swiss media had failed to cover the substance of his accusations. “The man in the street needs to know how this system works,” he said, referring to the offshore trusts that many “high net worth individuals” around the world use to evade taxes.

Bank Julius Baer, a 120-year-old institution that is usually noted for its intense privacy, said in a statement that it denied all wrongdoing and suggested that Mr. Elmer was pursuing a “vendetta” to “discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public.”

It accused him of using falsified documents, spreading baseless accusations and passing on “unlawfully acquired, respectively retained, documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks.”

On Monday, Mr. Elmer declined to say how he had obtained the documents. He was detained for 30 days in 2005 in connection with allegations that he falsified documents, violated Swiss banking secrecy laws and tried to coerce his former employers by threatening to disclose information. He faces trial in Switzerland on Wednesday, said his Swiss lawyer, Ganden Tethong Blattner, for the latter two charges and faces a possible sentence of eight months’ probation and a fine of $8,200.

WikiLeaks and Bank Julius Baer previously clashed in early 2008 when the antisecrecy organization published hundreds of documents pertaining to its offshore activities. The bank succeeded, briefly, in gaining a court order to shut down the WikiLeaks.org Web site. The injunction was subsequently overturned and the case was dropped.

The offshore banking industry has come under increasing pressure in recent years amid accusations that places like the Caribbean, with looser financial laws, allowed investors to avoid taxes and that some banks helped to create complex webs of companies and trust funds there to confuse tax authorities abroad.

In 2009, Bradley Birkenfeld, a former private banker for UBS, disclosed some of the industry’s illegal tactics and forced the bank to turn over details of several thousand client accounts to the I.R.S. as part of a legal settlement. UBS agreed to pay a $780 million fine and admitted criminal wrongdoing.

Still, Mr. Assange said in London on Monday, financial institutions usually “operate outside the rule of law” because of their economic power. WikiLeaks itself has been “economically censored,” he said, by companies like Visa and MasterCard, which stopped processing donations to it late last year in response to its release of hundreds of thousands of classified United States documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and thousands of State Department cables.

WikiLeaks, perhaps signaling a new focus, has also said it would release information from an American bank, thought to be from a Bank of America executive’s hard drive, early this year. But, Mr. Assange said, the site is not fully “open for public business” owing to the weight of the existing leaks it is struggling to process.

At the news conference, Mr. Assange declined to comment on the accusations of sexual abuse, brought by two women in Sweden, which have occupied much of his time in recent months. But he has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and has described the proceedings as “a smear campaign” meant to discredit him. He will appear in a British court for a comprehensive hearing on the matter on Feb. 7.

The United States is also widely thought to be conducting an investigation into Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks, in connection with the release of the classified government and military information.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

January 18th, 2011, 08:24 AM
This man is signing his own death sentance...

Of course, it will all be accidental.......