Wikileaks, Google and China

Buried inside the avalanche of documents released yesterday by Wikileaks is a tidbit that probably won’t get much notice amid all the noise: secret cables from the US embassy indicate the Chinese government may have directed the attack by Chinese hackers against Google:

The secret cables obtained by whistleblower site WikiLeaks said that China’s Politburo directed the hacking. It cited a cable from the US embassy in Beijing, which mentioned information from “a Chinese contact.”

“The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government,” the Times said, citing the cable.

Chinese operatives are also believed to have broken into computers of US and Western allies along with those of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, it said.

That Chinese authorities were involved in the attacks is no surprise. The surprise is that US officials seemed to have had more evidence than we thought that this was the case. If it’s true, it confirms the worst fears that China was actively engaged in criminal activities.

These cables were secret, and the US embassy clearly did not want us to know about this. So you can’t argue that this is an attempt by the US to embarrass China. It’s the US that’s embarrassed, and I suspect the US embassy is working now to contain the damage and to assure Beijing that the US didn’t mean to antagonize them.

AFP ink via CDT.

Update: Gady Epstein helped make sure this didn’t get drowned out:

We don’t know whether that is true, of course, since sourcing anything back to China’s secretive nine-member Politburo Standing Committee is, to the say least, a mean feat: We do know that if any part of this tip is true — and maybe even if not — some sources may now be at severe risk of long prison terms, now that Beijing has been alerted to these alleged leaks.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to much of the world that the hack on Google had government support, whether or not it was “orchestrated” at a high level as the Wikileaks reporting suggests so far. Quite a bit of good reporting has been done in the last few years on the loose, quasi-state nature of hacking in China, including at least tacit support for officially unaffiliated hacking activities that likely involves the ability to put hackers in service of government directives.

Epstein makes the point that we may never know for sure whether it’s true or not that the CCP Politburo ordered the attacks. Read the whole thing, which includes a lot of good context.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 120 Comments

Richard, to be fair, you are getting this second hand from the news-wires as the Google related information is not available on the site yet as of this morning.

While the news-wires have received the full set, and perhaps they are being unbiased about this tid-bit, as I poured over what was in the released documents this morning, all of the China stuff seemed consistently to create a very positive picture of the Chinese government in its support of dealing with things like French companies selling advanced infra-red equipment through a Chinese company which was being resold to Iran, and shipments of North Korean nuke stuff to Iran.

The surprising thing about the leaks so far, is how professional both sides seem to be. Let’s not go overboard listening to the media until we can check the real documents for ourselves.

November 29, 2010 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

I admit it, I get all my information second-hand through the newswires. The media quoted from the cable verbatim, unless the reporter was making it up, which is doubtful. For more about this, see the Forbes article I added to the post in an update.

The fact that China is portrayed in a positive light in some other matters doesn’t have anything to do with the Google hacking issue. But it strengthens the argument that the US embassy in no way was out to get China or to tarnish its image.

November 29, 2010 @ 11:56 pm | Comment

From whatever perspective, this latest dump by wiki is a fab mix of tittilation and real politic. Sort of like a gin-fuelled Sex Pistols crashing a diplomats world convention.

Just imagine a similar dump by a disgruntled upper eschelon in the Control and Discipline Branch (sorry, havent got the exact title at hand). In a country discovering the joys of trash and scandal culture on the net, this would be a fatal loss of face for the Party. Delegitimation thru laughter and derision. Its no wonder the Control and Discipline Branch maintains paper and not digital records pace McGregor (another great australian).

Over-estimating Beijing’s influence over North Korea.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cables-china-reunified-korea

November 30, 2010 @ 6:55 am | Comment

“That Chinese authorities were involved in the attacks is no surprise. ”

I remember hearing on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money that it was the Govt. backing Baidu, that’s why Google left town (eg. fled to HK). The business model is ‘invite western companies to come in the China, require them to do joint ventures, so you can learn how they do business’

The real surprise is that anyone waits for ‘confirmation’ from the Govt.

November 30, 2010 @ 9:37 am | Comment

Which gov’t did not engage in criminal activity? Who invaded Iraq? Was not not a criminal activity?

Stop joking me.

November 30, 2010 @ 10:32 am | Comment

@HongXing
Which gov’t did not engage in criminal activity?

Yeah. So according to Hong Xing’s warped “logic”, the CCP is free to justifiably commit every single crime imaginable, from tainting baby milk formulas to building “tofu” structures to breaking its own cybercrime laws as long as…. some country in this entire world invaded another country. Wow, that’s pretty interesting.

November 30, 2010 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

If information has to be leaked to see the light of day, one can probably infer that the owner of that information didn’t want it out in the open in the first place. If they wanted it aired publicly, they would’ve simply released it.

In this case, wrt the Google issue, this assumption seems to make sense. Let’s say someone high up the ladder in China messed with Google…which was the default assumption in some quarters anyhow. And let’s say the US knows it for a fact. On some level, they might be inclined to make an international scene of it to stand up for American corporate interests. On another level, that type of information might be something you keep holstered, such that the US knows it, but China doesn’t know that the US knows. There’s only so much mileage to be gained from trying to “embarrass” China about something like this. I would imagine that preserving this type of source and this type of information pipeline would’ve been far more valuable.

November 30, 2010 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

Yeah. So according to Hong Xing’s warped “logic”, the CCP is free to justifiably commit every single crime imaginable, from tainting baby milk formulas to building “tofu” structures to breaking its own cybercrime laws as long as…. some country in this entire world invaded another country. Wow, that’s pretty interesting.

Well CCP is very behind, it must learn from the advanced US. So if US does something, CCP must learn, CCP is a student.

November 30, 2010 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

SK, you’re right, and that’s what the US was trying to do – to leave it be, preserve the source and not embarrass China. That source must be sweating bullets right now.

Red Star, what would we do without you? If the CCP is a student of the US as we say, maybe we’ll see voting booths and rule of law there soon.

November 30, 2010 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Oh come on, Red Star. You are preaching the lemming philosophy of life. If someone does something wrong(ie the US), then China is not only justified to do something wrong also, but in fact she must do so. I mean, really?

Look, if you want to say that the US was wrong to have invaded Iraq, I think many people would agree with you. So by all means, crucify the US for having done so.

But as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right. So just because the US does something wrong shouldn’t be seen (if you were an adult) as an open invitation for China to commit some other wrong.

So criticize the US for Iraq. But then also display the depth of character and strength of principle required to criticize China when she screws up as well. Well, perhaps that’s too much to ask of you…

Besides, you shouldn’t think of Chinese people like monkeys. They should learn, yes. But learning involves a lot more than mimicry, which is the level you seem to aspire to on their behalf.

November 30, 2010 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

Red Star, what would we do without you? If the CCP is a student of the US as we say, maybe we’ll see voting booths and rule of law there soon.

There are many voting booths in China, I don’t know why you never saw one. When I was in China, I participated in many elections, local, community, and even municipal. I’ve probably seen more ballots than you have. I pity your lack of political rights, pity very much.

http://www.wuyishan.gov.cn/Articles/20090916/20090916201817562.html

November 30, 2010 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

Red Star, you never cease to amaze. “local”, “community”, and “municipal”, eh? Is that 3 ways to pretty much say the same thing? In some places, at some rather low level, they may have “elections”. However, what you omitted is that in some of these “elections”, the candidates are determined by higher levels of government.

And of course, you either willfully or ignorantly forget about all other levels of government where it would appear that China has much “learning” to do.

But it’s understandable that, when someone is trying to defend the position you’re stuck defending, they will come up with lame arguments like the ones you grace us with.

November 30, 2010 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

hello R,i still can’t visit your blog normally.have to use a software that name “Free Door”,well,youtube and twitter have this trouble both.

here is quote hongxing “There are many voting booths in China, I don’t know why you never saw one. When I was in China, I participated in many elections, local, community, and even municipal. I’ve probably seen more ballots than you have. I pity your lack of political rights, pity very much.”

i just want to say, there were a lot people always have been represented by a few guys someone like hongxing. too many people in this country have no speak rights,we always hear the vote but never have it

November 30, 2010 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

@King Tubby: Thanks for that link, that’s extremely interesting. I guess it shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise that China isn’t happy with North Korea, but it really does show that other countries attempting to persuade China to deal with North Korea need to change their tactics. They all want the same thing, but they need to be showing China how it is better for China to act with them rather than to sit on the fence.

I also do not think it will take too long before China finally gives up on North Korea. It’s just a matter of time, until the elder CCP members die or retire, and those that take their places are too young (well, born too late, by the time they make it that far) to remember Mao, to remember Kim Il-sung. At that point, I think North Korea will be viewed as far more of a liability than an asset for them. What will then happen… I don’t know.

If there is a power struggle when Kim Jong-il dies, then that could mean civil war internally, and that would be a wonderful (albeit bloody) vehicle for re-unification. If, on the other hand, a successor decides to wage war on the South or something as a ‘display of Strength’, then… well, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near South Korea, let’s say that. And that’s an awfully limited view of what might happen when Kim Jong-il dies.

November 30, 2010 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

God, I love it. Wuyishan in north Fujian. My wedding and had the local Maximun Leader to my left. I was forbidden to partake, but he and his pals definitely compensated, and that was a bid ask given my capacity. On the drive to the train station, definitely became aware of the extra-legal powers of local CP officialdom. Much grovelling and forlock tugging.

HongXing, you made my day buddy.

November 30, 2010 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

HongXing. Buddy. In fact, I was so impressed by the local power distribution system that I was considering renouncing my passport, joining the Party and them laying claim to a really nice tea plantation which took my fancy on the other side of the river in Nam Am.

I was indecisive unfortunately, and regret that failure of character to this day.

Looking back, I now realise that only really committed dudes like yourself are accepted as Comrades in Plunder.

Better brush up on my Nietzsche.

November 30, 2010 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

@Michael A. Robson – Relying on Jim Cramer as a source of information?

@Richard – Got to love all the people dissing Wikileaks for this splurge of data. Somehow diplomats quietly briefing journalists not-for-attribution that these various things are going on is acceptable, but newspapers publishing docs with names etc. redacted saying exactly the same kind of thing is not. Yes, it means in future that people will be more hesitant to put their opinions on paper, but can you truly say that it is not in the public interest to know some of these things? A democratic society abhors secret governance.

November 30, 2010 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

“Fake it until you make it.”

US Secretary of State

(“Obama’s Wars”, p. 292.)

November 30, 2010 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

“From: info@barackobama.com
Subject: Thankful

When Michelle and I sit down with our family to give thanks today, I want you to know that we’ll be especially grateful for folks like you.

Everything we have been able to accomplish in the last two years was possible because you have been willing to work for it and organize for it.

And every time we face a setback, or when progress doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like, we know that you’ll be right there with us, ready to fight another day.

So I want to thank you — for everything.

I also hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and each of us owes them and their families a debt of gratitude.

Have a wonderful day, and God bless.

Barack”

November 30, 2010 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

HeXi, thanks a lot for commenting. It’s great to hear what real Chinese people think of idiotic claims like Hong Xing’s.

Forap, I’m all for transparency. But what Wikileaks did this time went too far. This quote from Washington Monthly sums up how I feel

Revealing secrets about crimes, abuses, and corruption obviously serves a larger good — it shines a light on wrongdoing, leading (hopefully) to accountability, while creating an incentive for officials to play by the rules. Leaking diplomatic cables, however, is harder to understand — the point seems to be to undermine American foreign policy, just for the sake of undermining American foreign policy. The role of whistleblowers has real value; dumping raw, secret diplomatic correspondence appears to be an exercise in pettiness and spite.

Negotiations and diplomacy can be very sensitive, and when it comes to pressuring North Korea or fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen you can’t work everything out in full public view. If Kissinger had had to broadcast to the world his daily negotiations with China to open relations with the US in the 70s that door would likely ave remained closed. Expose his crimes, like the secret bombing of Cambodia and much more, but don’t reveal his daily bac and forth communications. Nothing would ever get done.

November 30, 2010 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

@Richard – But are not some of the things these communiques reveal (the spying on diplomats, the support of Middle Eastern dictatorships for an assault on Iran, and particularly the secret bombing of Yemen) most certainly of public interest? Are they not exactly the kind of thing that US diplomats and those of other countries reveal via off-the-record or not-for-attribution interviews all the time? Does not the secret bombing in Yemen fit precisely within the bounds of what you say should be exposed?

Yes, some of this stuff is tittle-tattle: the pen-portrait of Silvio Berlusconi and the complaints about rudeness amongst certain members of the British royal family in particular. But other famous releases of information which I would imagine you would support (the Pentagon papers, Nixon’s “expletive deleted” tapes) contained similar information, this was no reason to dismiss them in their entirety. In fact, Halberstam did note that the Pentagon papers were almost entirely of historical interest, and, the Watergate affair and Laos/Cambodia aside, the main interest in the White House tapes appeared to be the fact that the President swore.

December 1, 2010 @ 12:42 am | Comment

We can find some things in the massive document dump that are newsworthy. But you don’t release all the cables between diplomats that they assumed were confidential. Another good quote about this from liberal Huffington Post:

When the Danish cartoons were published the New York Times decided that its readers didn’t need to see them. When WikiLeaks dumped thousands of secret diplomatic and military cables into the Times’ lap the “paper of record” jumped at the chance and published. Maybe they were right to do so. However they were also hypocrites.

Not all news is created equal. Why did the Times not publish the Danish cartoons, but did publish our national diplomatic and military secrets?

Ask yourself this: would the Times republish its own internal editor-to-reporter memos and/or tape recordings of conversations between its top editors and owners if these fell into the hands of WikiLeaks, say, honest discussions about the risk posed to the Times’ by terrorists if they had published the Danish cartoons?

American diplomacy, messy as it may be, is all that stands between most of us and an even more chaotic and dangerous world.

Bottom line: for government to function it needs a degree of secrecy. Always has, always will. This will inhibit honest discussion, diminish trust in the US and make it much harder for the government to do its job. I know where you stand, FOARP, and prefer not to devote the thread to whether the leak was a good or bad thing. It is what it is, and it can’t be undone.

December 1, 2010 @ 12:55 am | Comment

But are not some of the things these communiques reveal (the spying on diplomats, the support of Middle Eastern dictatorships for an assault on Iran, and particularly the secret bombing of Yemen) most certainly of public interest?

They’re of interest to the public, but imagine that opponents of say the Saudi king used these statements to undermine his rule. What happens then if in order to stabilise his rule he has to pander to anti-American sentiment and refuse to cooperate over something important to all of us?

This is the problem, releasing the private comments on world leaders could get them to react in unpredictable ways.

December 1, 2010 @ 3:55 am | Comment

FOARP, I wasn’t referring to the bombing of Yemen that shouldn’t be disclosed, but to the Yemeni president’s strategy of saying the attacks against Al Qaeda were carried out by his own military – a strategy that helped him win the support of his people, who would have been less likely to approve the strategy if they knew the strikes were being carried out by Americans. Link.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh admits covering up US military strikes on Al-Qaeda in Yemen by claiming they are carried out by Yemeni forces, according to US documents leaked by WikiLeaks.

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh said in January talks with General David Petraeus, then commander of US forces in the Middle East, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable published by the New York Times.

The cable was sent by the US ambassador to Yemen, the daily said.

It was not in anyone’s interest but Al Qaeda’s to know this. I know, this sounds like I’m justifying lying to the public, but it’s not that simple; the relatively minor lie helped fight terrorism. No one benefited from its disclosure, which will now complicate relations with Yemen.

December 1, 2010 @ 4:34 am | Comment

@ Richard. Saleh’s covering strategy would be an open secret across Yemen and a conversational staple at any afternoon khat party.

No link unfortunately, but most urban Yemeni’s don’t appreciate A Q types using their badland hinterlands as a bolthole, since it affects their capacity to participate in international trade. And they have a very serious trading tradition which extends down thru India to Indonesia.

The tittilating exposures (Gadaffis ubiquitous Ukranian nurse) were fun, but there was little in the hard exposures which a person with a pc and time on their hands couldn’t have unearthed prior to this big download.

Wikileaks just served it all up on one steaming platter.

December 1, 2010 @ 5:15 am | Comment

I don’t disagree that much of this was known and available to anyone interested in finding it. But it will create a chill, making diplomats less eager to share information knowing their cables can be accessed and posted everywhere. And it has already led to a lot of embarrassment for the US and the State Department. I wouldn’t want to be in Hillary Clinton’s shoes at the moment.

December 1, 2010 @ 5:22 am | Comment

@Richard – I understand that you do not wish to turn this thread it a debate on the rights and wrongs of the disclosure. However, I am quite curious as to how you, as a person who has worked in the media for not a little time, studied the subject, and taught it, would compare leaks like the one made by Assange, and that made by Daniel Ellsberg and Neil Sheehan with the Pentagon Papers.

For me, as someone who has studied law and worked in it, I understand that confidential information can be made public if it is in the public interest for it to be made so, but this is as far as my understanding takes me.

December 1, 2010 @ 6:24 am | Comment

Ellsberg was releasing highly relevant information about an ill-conceived and illicit war that was bleeding America to death. He had information that proved the duplicity of the government. Assange on the other hand released a vast hodge-podge of documents that reveal no such crime, information of nearly no practical use to the public but of huge consequence to US foreign policy because it instantly destroyed, or at least hobbled,the trust that keeps diplomatic relations going. I think it was a pointless thing to do. Not illegal on Assange’s part, but nothing to praise. I heard Ellsberg interviewed on MSNBC today and he agreed, saying this can’t be compared to the Pentagon Papers. As you said, “confidential information can be made public if it is in the public interest for it to be made so.” Agreed. Here, it was not in the public interest. It was to the detriment of public interest, as diplomats will now be less willing to share important information.

I love exposing corruption and criminality. I worked for a few years as an investigative reporter. If I saw anything of true value to the public in this instance, any smoking guns or deep revelations that proved gross incompetence or criminality, I’d be praising the release. Instead, I see daily communications, mainly innocuous, that were presumed to be confidential – just like I presume my own daily emails to be confidential- spilled to the public for no apparent benefit. Do you want your emails to friends and colleagues stolen and distributed worldwide? For any of us to do our work or deal with our friends and relatives, don’t we sometimes have to have behind the scenes conversations we don’t want the world to see? Not to be dishonest, but to get things done. Or even to help people. (I’m having a behind the scenes conversation with my parents this week about an relative of mine who is failing.)

Once again let me post the quote from Washington monthly, which you’ll find several posts up. I think it makes what I’m trying to say crystal clear:

Revealing secrets about crimes, abuses, and corruption obviously serves a larger good — it shines a light on wrongdoing, leading (hopefully) to accountability, while creating an incentive for officials to play by the rules. Leaking diplomatic cables, however, is harder to understand — the point seems to be to undermine American foreign policy, just for the sake of undermining American foreign policy. The role of whistleblowers has real value; dumping raw, secret diplomatic correspondence appears to be an exercise in pettiness and spite.

And that’s my bottom line. It may be fun and exciting to see all this confidential stuff uncovered and to see governments embarrassed. But this seems pointless, unproductive, and very possibly harmful on multiple levels (trust between governments, putting confidential sources at risk, etc.).

December 1, 2010 @ 7:47 am | Comment

All the major items “leaked” are totally not embarassing to the US:

1) China ordering Google attack -> enforces view of China being a bad man, google innocent

2) Saudi asking US to bomb Iran -> enforces view that Iran has no ally in the Middle east, gives more support to a anti-Iran policy for the US

3) China “ready to abandon” North Korea -> no need for me to explain how beneficial this leak is to US efforts against N. Korea.

Where’s the dirty stuff on US-Japan relations, on US-England relations, on US-Israel relations? In fact, there’s not a single damaging material regarding relationships with US allies. All the leaks turned out to be helping the US currently.

You tell me there’s no damaging thing said by US diplomats about UK, about France, about Israel? No ordering of spying on those countries? No insulting remarks about those leaders? No backhand dealings? Nothing?

If the US did not plan this leak itself, it at least was able to control what material to be leaked.

Only a naive person believes this is a totally uncontrolled leak.

December 1, 2010 @ 9:18 am | Comment

Red Star, we all respect you as a noted commentator on diplomacy and international relations, but what do you see as the benefit if this was a controlled leak? Are you aware of Assange’s past history, such as releasing the devastating video of US soldiers killing innocent civilians in Iraq? His is not a track record of cooperating with the US and helping them with a controlled leak. And contrary to your analysis, it has done lots of damage to the State Department, forcing them to overhaul their entire communications system, and straining ties with leaders who came off looking bad in the cables.

December 1, 2010 @ 9:34 am | Comment

Who said Assange is cooperating with the US. Assange was planning a totally uncontrolled leak, but the US gov’t got involved, and turned it into a controlled leak, US gov’t turned a disaster into something that will damage them a little bit, but benefit them hugely in the long run. US gov’t may still hate Assange and may want to arrest him.

NY Times already is helping to spin this:

“But what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery. After years of revelations about the Bush administration’s abuses — including the use of torture and kidnappings — much of the Obama administration’s diplomatic wheeling and dealing is appropriate and, at times, downright skillful. ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/opinion/30tue1.html?_r=1&hp

Does this editorial sound like it’s a disaster for the US? No, it sounds like the US gov’t has just as much to gain from this leak as it has to lose.

December 1, 2010 @ 9:41 am | Comment

This is not a “disaster” in the realm of Abu Grahib prisoner abuse photos/videos. So no, not the type of thing that will monopolize news cycles for a week. But it is a “disaster” in the sense that its effects may be felt for a long time. It will discourage people from divulging info to Americans, for fear that the information they divulge might be traceable back to them in a few years’ time courtesy of a website.

As for China, is it really news to anyone that she was responsible for whoever was messing with Google? Are Iran’s popularity issues a surprise for anybody?

December 1, 2010 @ 10:04 am | Comment

It was a non-disaster in terms of not unveiling a smoking gun that makes the US look horrible. Didn’t happen. It was a total disaster for the State Department and for Hillary Clinton, and we’ll have to deal with some strained relations for a long time. There was no controlling involved, no control by the US. But then, you also think the Jews secretly run the country and love conspiracy theories, so I suspect we won’t win you over.

December 1, 2010 @ 10:16 am | Comment

But it is a “disaster” in the sense that its effects may be felt for a long time. It will discourage people from divulging info to Americans, for fear that the information they divulge might be traceable back to them in a few years’ time courtesy of a website.

Stop joking me. Any intelligent diplomat already knows what they say can be “leaked”.

Yes, there may be some temporary embarassment, but overall you cannot deny that these “leaks” flatter the US more than it hurt the US in terms of the general public’s image of the US gov’t and foreign policy. At least the New York Times thinks so.

Otherwise, how can you explain that most of these leaks actually help the US advance its foreign policy agenda?

December 1, 2010 @ 10:19 am | Comment

Otherwise, how can you explain that most of these leaks actually help the US advance its foreign policy agenda?

Examples being…?

December 1, 2010 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

Sorry, missed your earlier comment (29). I don’t see your points advancing US relations. We already know that Iran isn’t liked by the Arab states. The report about Google isn’t proven, and I’m sure plenty of people such as yourself will say it’s not true. We know that China wants us to think it doesn’t like North Korea (we don’t know what it really thinks).

However, there’s a difference between unnamed diplomats who know what they say might be leaked and people like the Saudi king who may well not think it would happen. They’re leaders, not diplomats, and people like that want their comments to stay private.

As for your ridiculous comment that the US is somehow behind/involved with the process of the leaks, wikileaks wouldn’t exist if the US had some power over it. Assange is on a personal mission to make America look bad. Either he doesn’t have anything else because it was classified above his informant’s position, or he’s holding stuff back to be released in batches to keep the story rolling, rather than have it buried in an avalanche.

December 1, 2010 @ 1:22 pm | Comment

To Red Star 34:
Yes, naturally when something is said, it can be attributed back to somebody. But I imagine that’s why people sometimes do so off the record. However, if they do so off the record, and the US produces a document based on that “off-record” information, only to have that document see the light of day, it may discourage people from even having off-record conversations with American representatives in the future. Bottom line, as Richard has tried to say to you several times in several different ways, is that I can’t really see how this makes American information-gathering any easier.

Also, as I suggested earlier, this is a proverbial unzipping of the American fly. There are things that the US knows, and there are things that China knows the US knows. It’s to the benefit of the US that those 2 lists of things not be identical. These leaks don’t alter the former; but they do change the latter, and not in a good way, at least from the US perspective.

As for “general public’s image”, which general public are you referring to? As both Richard and I have said, yes, there are no terrible events or American misdeeds uncovered here. On the other hand, the US State Dept just had their jock handed to them. If I were an American, I wouldn’t take this to be my government’s finest hour.

It should also go without saying that NYT represents the views of the NYT, and not necessarily that of all Americans.

December 1, 2010 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

I guess I have a problem with people saying that Julian Assange is necessarily motivated by anti-US sentiment. His website has leaked detrimental information from many different organisations – the Russians, the Kenyans, the Thais to name a few. It is worth noting that these communiques reflect at least as badly on China, Russia, North Korea, and the Middle-Eastern states as they do on the US, if not more so. I find no evidence of a specific anti-US animus.

Yes, there is something disreputable about the man, even if you do not believe the once-withdrawn now-partly-reasserted accusations of rape (although his lawyer says that he has not been charged, only sought as a witness). I personally find him quite unlike-able, and if these allegations, which he denies, develop into criminal charges, then these charges must be pursued to the full extent of the law.

Whilst his acts may be illegal under US law, no charges have been brought against him, and people may still access his website in the United States. It is worth remembering also that this leak is actually just part of the same leak in which the so-called ‘Collateral Murder’ video and Iraq/Afghan war files were released – I would have a hard time saying that these were not in the public interest to know.

It is also worth noting that the release of data has been filtered through several newspapers, who surely bear as much responsibility for their release as Wikileaks – yet no one seems to be proposing that The Guardian and Der Spiegel should be declared terrorist organisations.

HongXing’s suggestion that this leak has been orchestrated by the US government, or even welcomed by them, is ridiculous. However, it would be correct to say that the US has done its best to manage this affair – this is exactly what you would expect of all but the most incompetent organisations (CCP anyone? although even they are learning).

HongXing does, though, have at least half a point when he says that diplomats know that anything they say can be leaked. In fact, as I’ve pointed out above, most of the information in the communiques is already known to us through not-for-attribution and off-the-record talks given by diplomats and officials to reporters. It is hard not to think that at least some of the opprobrium coming from reporters towards Wikileaks stems from the debasement in value of their stock-in-trade by this mass dumping of information onto the market.

All this said, Wikileaks is clearly not a traditional journalistic outlet. If anything, it comes closer to the Russian Kompromat websites, mercenary organisations which release compromising information in return for financial compensation. Where Wikileaks differs from the Kompromat sites is it does not appear to receiving payment for its disclosures from the adversaries of those who will be harmed by the information it releases.

December 1, 2010 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

@ FOARP 38. By far the most thoughful post on this over-inflated media event.

Getting down and dirty thought by mentioning the rape “allegations”. Swedish rape legislation is pretty strange to say the least when considered from the perspective of the British legal system. As a past STD educator, I suggest he uses a condom in future, but give him one free pass only in that department, since he comes from my home state.

And writing of somewhat disreputable people, let us include Hillary Clinton in this category, an individual who exhibited a lust for power and an aura of complete self-entitlement during the Democratic primaries without parallel in US political history.

Wasn’t one of the mission statements of the first generation of internet warriors global information equality???

Well, here it comes to fruition for once. Sorry, if it is not warm and cuddly for all concerned.

And my advice to Assange. Don’t worry too much about US hot air threats, but think very carefully before doing a similar dump of Russian files. That would be life threatening.

December 1, 2010 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

Wikileaks is being blocked in the United States.

December 2, 2010 @ 1:27 am | Comment

The only way for China to confront with Google is to compete with Google by opening up to free speech more than Google, not closing the door to free speech. Being afraid of free speech makes China afraid of Google in front of everyone’s eyes.

December 2, 2010 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Compassionate conservatives on the issue:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/us-embassy-cables-executed-mike-huckabee

Wasn’t Huckabee supposed to be the most likable of the entire bunch?

December 2, 2010 @ 2:32 am | Comment

Chinese government is the only government on this planet that is so weak that will fall as soon as the country is open to the information.

December 2, 2010 @ 3:22 am | Comment

Why China blocks youtube and attacks google? Is there anything wrong that the party has to hide from Chinese people? Why is “Big” China government so nervous with some little free information?

December 2, 2010 @ 3:32 am | Comment

David/Chanthou, why are you posting under different identities?

December 2, 2010 @ 4:08 am | Comment

Richard, Just to be less boring. There are only a handful of guys doing all the postings, that is boring!

December 2, 2010 @ 9:14 am | Comment

Now this wikileak website is not accessible from the US. Where are the internet freedom defenders now? Silent?

Will Assange will the next Nobel Prize? Will the US threaten the Nobel Committee not to award it to Assange?

December 2, 2010 @ 11:40 am | Comment

It’s accessible again, moron. Amazon dropped them from their servers, as is their right, and they’re being hosted by an outfit in Sweden.

December 2, 2010 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

Actually Lieberman (I-CT) told Amazon to drop service against wikileaks. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/how_lieberman_got_amazon_to_drop_wikileaks.php

Amazon had no evidence of why wikileaks was dropped since they didn’t violate any Amazon’s web Service Acceptable Use Policy except fearing people won’t buy their stuff if they don’t comply to the government.

December 2, 2010 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

Well, I hope some wikileakian sues Amazon and makes millions out of it… Not following your own use policy is completely unacceptable.

December 2, 2010 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

Another site bowing to pressure from the US government on wikileaks:

http://www.tableausoftware.com/blog/why-we-removed-wikileaks-visualizations

BTW Tableau’s reasoning is flawed since “these charts contained no classified information whatsoever, and disclosed nothing about the content of the cables. It was the completely innocuous work of a freelance journalist to inform the public about the categories of documents released. Those charts were then linked to from the WikiLeaks site, but hosted separately by Tableau.”

December 3, 2010 @ 7:16 am | Comment

More wood to the fire…

http://tinyurl.com/38u3jb9

Class action suit coming?

December 3, 2010 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

I whole-heartedly condemn the attempts to censor Wikileaks and and shocked and dismayed by the threats made against Assange and Wikileaks by politicians, especially those in the US.

December 3, 2010 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

It’s good old Joe Lieberman tightening the screws on the hosts. Rumor has it they’ll move to a Swiss hosting service. I can see how this puts companies like Amazon in a real bind, damned whether they do or don’t.

December 4, 2010 @ 12:06 am | Comment

FOARP
“and shocked and dismayed by the threats made against Assange and Wikileaks by politicians, especially those in the US.”

Shocked? Really? I’d be shocked if there are no attempts on Assange’s life by US agents.

December 4, 2010 @ 4:52 am | Comment

Richard
“It’s accessible again, moron. Amazon dropped them from their servers, as is their right, and they’re being hosted by an outfit in Sweden.”

I understand that HongXing makes Richard angry, but this kind of harassment is only a few degrees away from censorship.

I suppose China could resort to asset freezes and intimidation to silence dissidents… history shows that much is ineffective though, like when people were tormented to the point of suicide during the Cultural Revolution.

December 4, 2010 @ 4:55 am | Comment

HongXing et al. We’ve all collided before, but I totally share your views on this one. Guys, all this agreement is well and good, but you should also be advocating the emergence of an Assange clone in the PRC for the sake of consistency.

Generally, if this cablegate consisted of Chinese diplomatic materials, 97% of western bloggers on sites like this would be besides themselves with glee. In fact, they would be totally pre-orgasmic.

The US and other govts can club together to terminate wikileaks with extreme prejudice, but it will proliferate and morp into other indentities all sharing the same mission statement. Many allies especially in Europe.

To repeat myself. Wasn’t one of the selling points of the first generation of internet advocates the free and equal access to information. Well, here it is. Sorry if it is not warm and cuddly for all concerned, and that it challenges the lazy, complacent and selective old media-govt incest.

Rarely visit the HuffPost, but it is turning out some of the most thoughful pieces on this digital event.

Assange might be a bit of a clothes horse mouthing Situationist type-views, but he has a serious support base which is not going to get bullied legally or otherwise out of existence.

December 4, 2010 @ 6:13 am | Comment

@King Tubby
Guys, all this agreement is well and good, but you should also be advocating the emergence of an Assange clone in the PRC for the sake of consistency.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikileaks
The organization has described itself as having been founded by Chinese dissidents

Don’t think that’s gonna end up well, your majesty. :)

December 4, 2010 @ 7:53 am | Comment

Generally, if this cablegate consisted of Chinese diplomatic materials, 97% of western bloggers on sites like this would be besides themselves with glee. In fact, they would be totally pre-orgasmic.

False comparison. Of course there would be glee, because China tells us nothing, literally nothing. In the case of the US leak, much of this information was common knowledge and there were relatively few big surprises. With the Freedom of Information Act, not to mention whistleblowers like Ellsberg, reporters are constantly digging into what the US government does and how it operates. In the case of China, there would be literally no precedent. It would be a veritable treasure trove, our first glimpse ever into how Chinese diplomacy works, so not just commenters here but China watchers everywhere would be having multiple orgasms.

December 4, 2010 @ 8:28 am | Comment

^ what about the declassified war reports then?

December 4, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Comment

I agree that PRCs diplomatic process would be the most opaque in the world, up there with North Korea, and would hazard a guess that it would primarily consist of (1) guidance about grubby trade deals with equally grubby regimes, or (2) instructions about pilfering technology blueprints.

And sooner or latter, a USB containing high level Chinese comunications between the red phone set will end up on the other side of the GFW.

Im pleased to see the whole architecture of diplomacy (US, or any other country) held up for scrutiny. (Sort of surprised that many US diplomats were such acute/witty observers, given the fact that most are political appointees.)

Putting aside cancerous politicians like Lieberman, drivelling idiots like Palin, and media outlets like the NYTs which walks both sides of the street, this is a positively brilliant development which is going to gain serious traction in the future, for GOOD or ILL. Who needs the existing paradigm/cosy snuggle bunny relationship between govt/media and diplomatic outreach which goes back to the Crimean War.

I don’t mind being told that I’m being juvenile and need counselling.

Richard. Open societies like the US are the most vulnerable, but they are also or should be ***the most resilient***. When the domestic info flood gates are opened in China, it wont be a case of resilience and reconstruction of the polity. It will be some sort of implosion.

December 4, 2010 @ 10:25 am | Comment

That is implying that China has escaped any kind of scrutiny at all, it has not.

December 4, 2010 @ 11:52 am | Comment

This US move to try to put a lid on Wikileaks is very CCP-esque. Kinda like how the CCP keeps shooting herself in the foot wrt Liu’s Nobel. The horse is already out of the barn, so closing the barn door now is a little moot. But the very act of closing the barn door, however fruitless, casts the US government in an even more negative light. Not only will the story be about the content of the leaks, but about how the US is trying shameless ways to snuff it out…which makes for an even better and bigger story.

Similarly, Liu has won the Nobel. Nothing the CCP does now will change that. Except now she is busy preventing his wife and Liu’s supporters from even attending the ceremony. Now the story isn’t just about Liu winning the Nobel, or the fact that he’s in jail, but about how law abiding PRC citizens can’t even go to attend an award ceremony. The CCP has just kept the story alive and shining brighter with her predictable antics. These guys are definitely good at what they do.

I do agree with others that a Wikileaks China would be very appropriate. They should learn from Assange, however, and not host on a server residing within the PRC, lest it get harmonized.

December 4, 2010 @ 2:20 pm | Comment

Isn’t Wikileaks China exist already: HRW China, NED, Amnesty International, all the Human rights organizations? Every move China makes about a particular dissident, they will report where he is at before the media reports it.

December 4, 2010 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

Those other outfits might track the fate of “political prisoners” and the like. But these cable leaks are apples and oranges different. They cast a light on the inner diplomatic workings of government. That’s something the US could use in the name of transparency. But also something China sorely needs.

December 4, 2010 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

There should be a law to enforce publishing this kind of information in a wiki like manner every 5 years. With also provisions to protect the persons who wrote sensitive reports.

December 4, 2010 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

@Richard – I keep thinking it over, but when I come right down to it – yes, intimating ISPs to de-list a website (if that is what has taken place) does constitute a form of censorship, yes, threatening criminal prosecution and/or extra-judicial punishment merely for disclosing information does constitute an attempt at censorship. In this specific matter, politicians in the US and elsewhere have shown themselves to have reacted in a manner substantially similar to that which we might expect in, say, Russia. It is somewhat depressing.

December 4, 2010 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

It is somewhat depressing.

It’s only depressing if you are illusionary about US gov’t “commitment to freedom of information”. If it’s non-sensitive stuff that will not hurt the core interest of the gov’t, they may be “tolerant” about it because it earns them political scores. But if it crosses some line, then they are just as ruthless as the CCP, if not more.

As of now: wikileaks.org is still inaccessible from the US. Already harmonized by the US gov’t. You have to type in the direct IP address. Anyone else experiencing this issue? Any way to get around America’s great firewall on this? Maybe the same program you use to get around the Chinese firewall, can it be used here?

And where are the internet censorship activists who had an orgasm over the Google affair, but now absolutely silent?

http://richardbrenneman.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/social-security-bosses-crime-to-look-at-wikileaks/

http://richardbrenneman.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/no-job-if-you-link-to-wikileaks-warns-columbia/

December 5, 2010 @ 12:41 am | Comment

I agree it’s a form of censorship. But it’s a far cry from China’s style of harmonization. The test will be if an ISP overseas hosts Wikileaks and the US actually blocks the site, as opposed to pressuring a US ISP not to host them. Once they do that, then I’ll agree it’s CCP-style censorship. It may well happen, and I hope not. If it does I’ll protest as loud as anyone.

December 5, 2010 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Hi Richard,
it’s definitely censorship, and in this instance, on this issue, the US government has already gone CCP on us. Who else would pressure the US-based ISP to not host the site? If Wiki was a dissident site in China that suddenly went off line, most of us would have no hesitation in attributing the monkey business to the CCP. The only difference might be that the CCP has an established track record with this sort of thing, and would be completely in character. It seems the US government is breaking new ground, as far as they’re concerned, on this one.

Admittedly, the volume of stuff leaked here is a new benchmark. However, as we’ve discussed earlier, there’s nothing particularly damaging here. If anything, the earlier wiki leak of the gun cam as the Reuters news team was mowed down was far more unsightly. So I am surprised that the US would choose to censor at this juncture. We also agreed that the compromising of sources might be the biggest negative from this leak. BUt then the damage is already done, and taking them offline now doesn’t turn back the clock. I wonder if WIkileak was about to leak more stuff that may have been more damaging, which compelled the US to pull a CCP.

December 5, 2010 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

@SKC There is better stuff coming down the pike. BOA and god knows what else. Assange knows in his heart he is going to crash and burn, so he is well insuring himself with lots of trip wires. As I’ve already said, wikileaks will morph and multiply with clones, and they wont have any problems locating product. (Recall the movie Network.)

All you folk with serious journalistic/legal CVs and investments in the present status quo. Fact: he despises you types, and is also not too worried about collateral damage either. Read the latest HP editorial by a former something or other. Legal niceties: who cares.

Some background. Less than normal family and also went thru the Australian punk scene circa 76-80. This was a died pretty take no prisoners socio/cultural period of formation. Made the Sex Pistols and Patti Smith look like faux media creations.

Add on very serious mathamatical computing skills, and you have a flawed character with a Trotskyite belief in changing the digital paradigm.

Reminds me of Engels: “Indeed, only barbarians are capable of rejuvenating a social order suffering from an excess of civilisation”.

Its time to change the furniture. Jeer at me if you like, but lets compare notes in a few months time.

December 5, 2010 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

@King Tubby – Get on with yer, the London punk scene remains the bench mark, and Assange is no Mark E. Smith!

@SKC – Yup. If it were a Chinese website which had been de-listed by a Chinese company after criticism from Chinese officials, people would not hesitate to call it censorship.

December 6, 2010 @ 3:10 am | Comment

The US has crossed a line by pressuring ISPs to drop Wikileaks, and it is definitely a form of censorship. But I distinguish it from CCP-style censorship, where sites overseas like my own are hard-blocked. If the US blocks Wikileaks wherever it is, then I’ll say another line has been crossed and we stand shoulder to shoulder with China and Vietnam, etc. This is not to excuse what we’re doing, but to draw a simple distinction. And I fully agree with FOARP up above, that the threats against Assange by certain US lawmakers, the right-wing media and idiots like Sarah Palin are repellent. But they aren’t at all surprising.

December 6, 2010 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Permission to digress. FOARP. The Fall…..noodling nitwits with bad haircuts. Surely you are winding me up? Stranded by the Saints preceded any product by Lydon by months. Attended the same high school- Corinda SHS. Imperial self-entitlement on your part. Harrow, Sandhurst, Eton, Wigan Vocational?????? Vinyl memories aside, I enjoy reading your posts.

Pleased to see Richard focussing on the real parameters, and I agree with him that any larger censorship comparison is misguided.

Nonetheless, I welcome a serious response to the main point made in my post.

December 6, 2010 @ 11:01 am | Comment

@Richard

Australia’s, US’, Sweden’s, and Interpol’s manhunt to gag Julian Assange of publish new revelations about the US (certainly WaPo and NYT hasn’t investigated):

(1) the U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;

(2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA’s kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent;

(3) the State Department under Bush and Obama applied continuous pressure on the Spanish Government to suppress investigations of the CIA’s torture of its citizens and the 2003 killing of a Spanish photojournalist when the U.S. military fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad (see The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch today about this: “The day Barack Obama Lied to me”);

(4) the British Government privately promised to shield Bush officials from embarrassment as part of its Iraq War “investigation”;

(5) there were at least 15,000 people killed in Iraq that were previously uncounted;

(6) “American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world” about the Iraq war as it was prosecuted, a conclusion the Post’s own former Baghdad Bureau Chief wrote was proven by the WikiLeaks documents;

(7) the U.S.’s own Ambassador concluded that the July, 2009 removal of the Honduran President was illegal — a coup — but the State Department did not want to conclude that and thus ignored it until it was too late to matter;

(8) U.S. and British officials colluded to allow the U.S. to keep cluster bombs on British soil even though Britain had signed the treaty banning such weapons, and,

(9) Hillary Clinton’s State Department ordered diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data on U.N. and other foreign officials, almost certainly in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961.

…is even worse than China’s suppression.

December 6, 2010 @ 11:10 am | Comment

King Tubby @ FOARP: “Imperial self-entitlement on your part.”

Oh, I wasn’t the only one to notice!

This reminds me my claims to FOARP’s family – to be handed over as reparations for imperial horrors – have gone unanswered. Pity. Could have used some helping hands today, what with all the snow shoveling. Nothing better than watching other people work for you, while sipping some good old Port, feet up, cigar lit!

Alas, I had to do it myself.

REPARAAATIONS!

December 6, 2010 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

Jason, what’s your point? I don’t necessarily disagree with any of those things. Still, the US doesn’t hard-block any sites the way China does. If you think the US is more suppressive than China you’re free to do so. The items you list have nothing to do with the blocking of web sites, which is what I was referring to. Fenqing love to list America’s evils, and we’ve done some bad things I’ve been extremely vocal about over the years, especially in regard to Iraq, the war on terror, torture, idiotic airport security, etc. Having lived in China and the US, I can safey say China is more suppressive of freedom of expression. If you disagree, fine. We’ve had this argument here many times.

December 6, 2010 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

@Jason – To show the difference between US practices and Chinese practises, all you need is point out that the news media in the US have been free to report on ALL THE THINGS YOU LIST. It’s just bizarre watching people who, when push comes to shove, have no problem with the CCP’s abuse of the human rights of Chinese citizens (or even make excuses for acts of pure madness like the North Korean shelling of South Korea civilians) criticise the US for doing things not nearly so bad.

December 7, 2010 @ 12:27 am | Comment

Ask Jason how he KNOWS about any of those facts and alleged facts and whether any information of that nature on China would see the light of day.

He must be given credit for trying (albeit not succeeding) to be logical — a rare thing in fenqing circles.

December 7, 2010 @ 12:43 am | Comment

Do you see Russia prosecute Dalai Lama as US, Sweden, Australia, and Interpol is trying to prosecute Assange?

@FOARP

Sure but talking points by Pro-Iraq war journalists is dominating the airwaves by trying to divert suppression of America’s crimes as only “we already know it.” Or seeing two CNN journalists laughing how Ron Paul is a nutjob because he supports wikileaks’ freedom of speech.

December 7, 2010 @ 2:07 am | Comment

Ron Paul IS a nutjob, though not necessarily for his views on Wikileaks.

talking points by Pro-Iraq war journalists is dominating the airwaves by trying to divert suppression of America’s crimes as only “we already know it.”

You have no idea what you’re talking about. America’s crimes in Iraq have been front and center in the US media since 2003. We read and hear about them every day. No new American crimes were uncovered in Wikileaks and if they were the media would be having a field day. The media LOVE to report on American war crimes, witness the wall-to-wall coverage of Abu Ghraib for nearly an entire year, and all the articles on Blackwater, torture in Gitmo, support of Karzai’s super-corrupt regime, etc. Anyway, arguing with you is utterly pointless, as everything you say is certifiably fact-free.

December 7, 2010 @ 2:27 am | Comment

@Jason
“…is even worse than China’s suppression.”
Ummmm…..someoe has released a bunch of classified information and so the relevant authorities want to “question” him. This is openly discussed and no one is steering the conversations about this away to more “harmonious” subjects.
As for suppression – if the CCP doesn’t want it mentioned, it isn’t. As far as I can tell, the Guardian and the NYT, amongst other western media outlets, are still writing reams using the WikiLeaks materiel. If there is suppression, the governments are doing an outstandingly crappy job. Given Liu Xiaobao was thrown in the slammer for 11 years for suggesting maybe the political system in China could stand a smidgen of reform and Assange is still not yet in the courts as such aagain suggests me to that either the western (specifically the US) is either following the “rule of law” more dilligently that the CCP would ever do or, again, they really don’t get this “suppression” thing quite as well as the current Chinese leaders do. Anyway, all suggests that you’ve either never really experienced suppression or you are just arguing for the sake of it. As Richard so correctly suggests, your arguments are not really worth your while typing them out.

On topic – did like this :-D
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8184216/WikiLeaks-Chinas-Politburo-a-cabal-of-business-empires.html
Betcha I can’t find this in the Chinese media – they sure can do suppression like the best of them!

December 7, 2010 @ 10:23 am | Comment

@ Due to the ignorance of the diplomat in the cable of saying CCP has no reformers, why do China spend so much on clean energy and pollution reduction investment than the United States?

Why do China spend on infrastructure more than the United States?

To EVEN suggest to reform China political system to Federal parliamentary constitutional republic is absurd. That will create a bigger chaos and increase the poverty line. How’s that peace? No wonder Dalai Lama, Tutu, and Tutu’s cronies nominated Liu Xiaobo. This is anarchism not democracy.

December 7, 2010 @ 1:07 pm | Comment

FOARP #78 cuts to the chase. The US has done some unseemly things, which even us common blokes know about and are free to talk about. That one point alone stands in such stark contrast to CCP China’s situation so as to make any attempt to say “the US is as bad as CCP CHina” to be a fatally flawed comparison. Granted, the US response to Wikileaks is not moving her in an admirable direction, but that’s still orders of magnitude away from the CCP facts of life.

But here’s another FQ favourite. They love to compare. CCP isn’t so bad compared to so and so because of such and such. Except that misses the point in most cases. CCP is just plain bad in many arenas, and that has nothing to do with being better or worse than somebody else. But the FQ will be damned if they acknowledge something as basic as that.

December 7, 2010 @ 1:49 pm | Comment

@SKC

What I differ to your derogatory fenqing remark of trying to compare CCP and US is that you have misunderstood my point. My argument is that US has the mainstream media backing while China don’t. For example, especially Yahoo who promote heavily on Google hacking story while never tries to promote US story of suppressing law majors in Columbia if they read about wikileaks.

Another example, AP and Reuters always have to bring “an expert” such as Reporters without Borders, all the Human Rights spokesperson to criticize China’s horrible human rights record. But AP and Reuters refrain of using any experts that criticizes from that group when writing the suppression of wikileaks.

December 7, 2010 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

@Jason

Why do you think Reporters without Borders lack credibility? Their work and indexes are verifiable. Besides, true, this year they placed the US 20th in the world in terms of press freedom (very high!) but in other years the US according to them wasn’t even in top 50.

In 2007, for instance, the US was 48th:

http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=classement&id_rubrique=34

Poor guys actually have their hands full what with the attacks coming from the American right (As in: “Commie liberal fascist Frenchified surrender reporter monkeys! USA!! No 1!! USA!!! USA!!!”)

They also place China 171st out of 178 ranked countries, but, you know, that’s kind of the truth.

Basically, yeah, the US sucks more and more every single day and is slowly turning into a paragon of suckiness.

But there’s a reason why China gets way more flak. It’s because when it comes to suckination, suckfulness or suckology – however you want to call it – it is *the* gold standard. Short of North Korea of course.

Go live there for a few years if you don’t believe me.

December 7, 2010 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Let me tell you this, most Chinese living in mainland China does not experience the Western media selective individuals’ pain and suffering.

I never said Reporters With Borders is lacking credibility in the post. I’m saying why do AP and Reuters journalists quote their saying to China but refuse to quote them when Reporters With Borders criticize US for suppressing wikileaks.

December 8, 2010 @ 2:26 am | Comment

“Why do China spend on infrastructure more than the United States?”
The way I read it, stimulation of economy. As the western markets have died down due to a massive hangover (debt after years of playing free and easy with the credit cards), millions of Chinese workers needed to be employed. What better way to do this than lending massive amounts to the different regions/provinces/cities/etc to make them employ people. Hitler did this in the 30s, as did Mussolini. I think the US also engaged in this activity in the 30s…need to check.
The US today doesn’t have the capacity to spend on infrastructure as it is broke….and people know it is broke, so it can’t really get money to spend. As I read it, it is now trying to devalue it’s currency to balance out some trade issues (though some of this is politically motivated, according to pundits) with certain countries that control their currency more effectively (rigourously?) than the US.

As for WikiLeaks, read the comments in the press – not the articles but the comments by normal people. You’ll find these are not “harmonised” to the same extent as in the mainland Chinese press. As they are open and in the national online press (anyone can read them…and, indeed, contribute) they can be considered a part of the news article.

Here’s a western (US) news medum
http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-phoenix/suppression-of-information-real-reason-for-attacking-wikileaks
http://eyeonmiami.blogspot.com/2010/12/wikileaks-is-collateral-damage-worth.html

Interesting to read this editorial and then the comments
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/12/editorial_who_should_pay_for_w.html

Jason, I think you should read more – your information is from too narrow a source. China is not as bad as the FQ would have us believe the western media (and by that they mean pretty much only the US) tells us it is…and by the same vein the governments in the west are not as brutal as the CCP is (Assange is still not breaking rocks in an American gulag as far as I know…)

December 8, 2010 @ 5:35 am | Comment

Another thing you don’t seem to want to mention, Jason, is that despite the suppression we apparently have in the west, I can still read WikiLeaks in the national media in the west (as in all countries west of the Urals and east of the Pacific). Going online, I can still, relatively easily, find the WikiLeaks releases…and if I have difficulty, I can via some western media stories, find where to look to get these “secret” cables. Suppression doesn’t seem to be the predominant theme here.

Tell me, are your assertions coloured by some “…..with Chinese characteristics” meme? As if China is better than the west because they have freedom with Chinese characteristics? Are you telling us that there is no suppression in China because the concept does not exist in China?

December 8, 2010 @ 5:52 am | Comment

And finally, just in case you don’t think western media doesn’t facilitate the access to WikiLeaks but actually aids in the suppression…
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8178457/WikiLeaks-website-disconnected-as-US-company-withdraws-support.html
You’ll love this not as yes “harmonised” comment

“Just use the IP address. You can get there on http://88.80.13.160/ at the moment.”

and

“NOTE: the website has NOT been disconnected.

What they have done is take the http://www.wikileaks.org domain name off the domain name servers.

Every time you type in a domain, e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk it has to be converted to an IP address which is what the Internet actually uses. All they have done is stop you getting the IP address from the domain name.

Wikileaks is still here: http://213.251.145.96/
and can be accessed directly with the IP address. ”

But hey, that’s suppression with western characteristics…. ;-)

December 8, 2010 @ 6:04 am | Comment

@Goldthorpe

Actually the NYTimes these days harmonizes a lot more than the Guardian or Le Monde. (I don’t know about Der Spiegel.)

Two days ago, I had a post harmonized by the NYTimes in which the only potentially controversial sentence was “maybe it would be a good idea for everyone online to start signing their posts “Julian Assange” and then we’ll see how censorship works.”

The NYTimes found the suggestion highly offensive I guess. My post did no go through.

By the way, thank you so much Richard, apparently on your blog all comments go through unless more than 50% of their content is R-rated. It’s you who ought to be in charge of the DHS.

Unrelated: Obama took questions today for almost an hour. Not one – NOT ONE – journalist mentioned the whole Wikileaks thing.

Damn scary.

I’d say China does deserve that 171 spot down there in the press freedom rankings, but the US sure doesn’t deserve a 20. More like… 70, between Hong Kong and Brazil, that sounds about right.

The US seemed like such a nice country back in the Bill Clinton days. Was I blind back then?

December 8, 2010 @ 6:08 am | Comment

@RP
Luckily the US press isn’t all under the control of a central authority :-) Not yet, anyway… ;-)

December 8, 2010 @ 6:21 am | Comment

I am beginning to find the reaction to this story – the threats against Assange and Wikileaks, the highly dubious charges of rape against Assange which happened to come along at exactly the right moment, the de-listing of Wikileaks, and the blocking of financial support, to be far more striking evidence of how certain western governments behave than the disclosures in the leaked documents themselves. It’s simply dismaying, depressing, and severely disappointing stuff.

Unless some other evidence comes forward to substantiate the charges against Assange, I hope that the judge in Assange’s extradition hearing here in the UK has the good sense to block the extradition to Sweden. Otherwise, I will find it hard not to think of Assange as a political prisoner, just as Bradley Manning also appears to be.

@Resident Poet – That the White House press corps is supine is hardly surprising – it’s been that way for quite some time. We saw something similar with the torture scandals under George W. Bush, I don’t know how it was under Clinton, Bush senior and Reagan, but I’d be surprised if it was all that different.

December 8, 2010 @ 7:59 am | Comment

To Jason #85:
“My argument is that US has the mainstream media backing while China don’t.”
—for starters, you must be making this observation from the perspective of someone who lives in the US. I imagine that in CHina, the Chinese “mainstream media” is much more laudatory and deferential to the CCP way (for obvious reasons) than the media in other countries.

Second, whatever degree of “mainstream media backing” in evidence doesn’t alter the nature of the regimes, or their default behaviour. As transparency goes, CCP China isn’t, and the US is not moving in a good direction with her response to Wikileaks.

Third, as has been elaborated upon numerous times by Richard and others, this US “mainstream media” of which you speak is the first (let’s treat them as a singular entity here for your benefit, since types like you seem to only be able to perceive them in this manner)to crucify the US when dirty laundry is aired (like the Abu Grahib’s, water-boarding, and all manner of embarrassing US stories that have led news cycles over the years). So when you say “mainstream media backing”, you either are a very selective reader or have very selective memory. Perhaps both.

Fourth, the fact that you can complain about NYT in one instance, and Yahoo in another, exemplifies the fact that you (common bloke in the US) have easy and ready access to differing viewpoints and representations of different issues, and are free to choose in any instance which one to which you would rather subscribe, and which ones you would consequently deride. That alone aptly encapsulates the difference between the US and CCP China. For the average Chinese to enjoy the privileges you take for granted would truly be a great leap, and far more worthy than the great leaps that came before it.

I don’t understand your point about Reporters without Borders. Is the metric now that any group which criticizes China must also at different times criticize the US? Reuters might need RWB to weigh in on China issues because of access problems, which, funny enough, she doesn’t have in the US. No idea how that “point” helps your argument.

December 8, 2010 @ 10:31 am | Comment

Jason, you might like this other (western…US based) source from information…
http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/?s=assange

December 8, 2010 @ 11:04 am | Comment

FOARP, the rape charge seems to have been dramatically reduced, and from what I’m seeing the new lesser charge could be for real. It’s now a relatively minor offense; if they were trying to frame him or trump up the charges, they’re not doing a good job. Also, these charges were filed months ago, before this huge leak. Assange may be totally innocent, but again, based on what I’m seeing/reading, it seems at least one woman did go to the authorities about him.

Wikileaks is still alive and well, as Michael notes above; anyone can read the content there, it is not blocked. Is it surprising the government has gone to great lengths to pressure ISPs from hosting Wikileaks? While I tend to side with the David over the Goliath, and while my favorite god is Prometheus for stealing fire and bringing it to man, I can see why the government is a bit hysterical over the last Wikileaks dump, which revealed secret sites and lots of embarrassing information (no need to go through it all again – but it was mainly embarrassing information – not game-changing, indictable information like the Pentagon Papers). Amazon, I suspect, was delighted to drop Wikileaks, and Joe Lieberman’s applying pressure gave them the perfect out. Visa dropped them just yesterday. Wikileaks is so radioactive, such a hot potato that no US company will dare be affiliated with it, right or wrong. We shouldn’t be at all surprised to see the government get rankled and do all it can to silence someone who is collecting classified information and distributing it to the public. I don’t like their (the government’s) tactics but I understand them.

If this had been China, of course, Assange would simply have been brought to a speedy trial and executed. They put Shi Tao in jail for 10 years just because he revealed in a Yahoo email Jiang Zemin’s plans to retire. Imagine what they’d do to anyone who lifted the kimono on China’s military secrets and classified cables. No mercy.

December 8, 2010 @ 11:05 am | Comment

In fact, we believe it is the most closed societies that have the most reform potential. The Chinese case is quite interesting. Aspects of the Chinese government, Chinese Public Security Service, appear to be terrified of free speech, and while one might say that means something awful is happening in the country, I actually think that is a very optimistic sign, because it means that speech can still cause reform and that the power structure is still inherently political, as opposed to fiscal. So journalism and writing are capable of achieving change, and that is why Chinese authorities are so scared of it.

The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be ‘free’ because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free.

This is the sentiment many “non-fenqing” Chinese intellectuals have been trying to convey, but less eloquently so.

What Assange is in effect saying is: yes it’s undeniably true that the CCP goes much further in limiting freedom of speech, and in that singular respect, it is undoubtedly much worse than the practice of the West. But the root cause is not because the CCP is fundamentally “worse” than Western gov’t's or fundamentally more “evil” than the Western gov’t's (nor is it “better” obviously), but it’s because in Chinese society speech has the potential to bring down the gov’t, while in Western societies, the power structures are so ossified and institutionalized that the “ruling elites” (to borrow a cliched phrase) is not nearly as afraid of speech as their Chinese counterparts.

The reason is that the Western society’s model of “dictatorship” (in the sense that “all gov’t are in essence instruments of dictatorship”) is a much more experience, sophisticated, seasoned, polished, delicate, subtle, and therefore successful one. The CCP’s methods of dictatorship is, in comparison, crude and inexperienced. So a crude and inexperienced dictator keeps shooting himself in the foot and makes a fool of himself, while the much more polished Western ruling elites look on with amusement.

That is also the reason Richard can so confidently and self-righteously lashes out at the CCP and always makes the US look much better (and it IS true that the US LOOKs much better in comparison in comparison (despite his admission that the US also “done terrible things, but at least we are ‘free’”.), and most of the defenders of the CCP can’t really bring about effective counter-arguments.

Doesn’t mean he’s right though.

December 8, 2010 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

Sorry, missed the source of the quote by Assange:
http://www.newappsblog.com/2010/12/3quarksdaily-post-on-assanges-3rd-order-strategy.html

December 8, 2010 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

To JC:
any idea why a “closed society” has the most potential for reform? Possibly because people, if given the choice, wouldn’t oft for such a society. Such a society would therefore have great potential for change, if only the people were so permitted. So sure, the CCP fears free speech, because she probably figures that the extension and exercise of free speech may well lead to its demise. And as I’ve said before, if there’s one thing the CCP is good at, it’s self preservation.

The “west” has a system where most people are happy to change the caretakers, without feeling the need to change the system itself. In that way, the “system” is understandably comfortable with speech since there’s little impetus to rid the system of itself. BUt that’s hardly a fault of the system. If anything, that’s the virtue of the system. On the other hand, the caretakers of the system (ie the elected government) can and do change, and I imagine some of them may well prefer less speech so as to preserve their existence (much like the CCP) but the system prevents them from doing so. Goes toward the long-standing problem with the CCP: she is both the caretaker and the system. If nothing else, it’s a conflict of interest writ large.

So yes, speech is free in the west because the system doesn’t fear it. That’s what a system that has confidence in itself looks like. Admittedly, for CCP-backers, quite a foreign concept. For instance, you are free tomorrow to stand on a stump on your nearest street corner, and vouch for the virtues of authoritarianism in general, and perhaps the CCP way in particularly. I’d be very interested to see how far and wide your message spreads. If it goes nowhere, it’s not the fault of the system, for you are more than free to spread your message; but the fault might be with the message itself.

December 8, 2010 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

“In that way, the “system” is understandably comfortable with speech since there’s little impetus to rid the system of itself.”
Hence we have Speaker’s Corner
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speakers'_Corner
Can’t see something like this going down too well in a corner of Tiananmen Square….

December 8, 2010 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

@Richard

–> “Wikileaks is so radioactive, such a hot potato that no US company will dare be affiliated with it, right or wrong.”

That is a huge problem and it’s indicative of the breakdown of the separation of powers and the civic spirit in the US. (Forget about respect for the Constitution…)

In a civilized country, the government may shout and stomp, but independent courts decide what’s legal.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101206/tc_afp/usdiplomacywikileaksfrance_20101206213532

If the law’s not right, then have a national debate and CHANGE it, but until that point, respect it. Don’t trample on people’s rights just because Lieberman called you.

Oh right, sure, Wikileaks somehow went against the user agreement at Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, Paypal etc. etc.

Bollocks. The small print is designed precisely to take all rights away from the end user. Every single one of us is in trouble. Every single one of us has signed contracts that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on for the leadership of banks, ISPs, etc. They can and will bump you at will.

We all make fun of Chinese shortcomings (me included)… but actually… we’re just in a bigger cage, that’s all. And man, I HATE being in a cage and I’m going to scream at the jail keeper till the sun don’t shine.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the powers that be for the extra space in my cage. I still wouldn’t want to be Chinese or Russian or God forbid Pakistani or Norkorean.

But these days even being Swedish isn’t all that’s cracked up to be.

December 8, 2010 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

We all make fun of Chinese shortcomings (me included)… but actually… we’re just in a bigger cage, that’s all.

More like a cage where the door is rarely closed – and we have a right to demand we be released by an independent party (i.e. the courts).

But these days even being Swedish isn’t all that’s cracked up to be.

Assange is Australian.

December 8, 2010 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

@Richard – I’m sorry, I was open-minded about the charges until I read the actual facts presented. The key matters in any trial of rape or molestation is firstly whether the act was committed, and secondly whether the person accused knowingly did so without the consent of the subject of the act. In both cases the subject acknowledges that consent was given, in neither case is there any evidence that it was withdrawn or limited.

In any case, both cases are of the type which no reasonable police officers in the UK would waste time investigating, which no reasonable person in the Crown Prosecution Service would waste the time of the courts on, and which, if they did reach court, would certainly be thrown out. This is because there is, so far as we are aware, no evidence whatsoever to corroborate the story of the Assange’s accusers, nor can there be, the acts having taken place in private.

December 8, 2010 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

… and the women threw parties for him and raved online about how great he was AFTER the alleged rapes. And bought him stuff like train tickets and food.

Yup, pretty typical victim behavior right there.

December 8, 2010 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

FOARP, you may be right. I don’t know. I admit, it sounds suspicious.

John Chan of World Socialist Web Site:

That is also the reason Richard can so confidently and self-righteously lashes out at the CCP and always makes the US look much better

Funny, I often get accused of being too soft on the CCP, and my to-the-right readers always accuse me of lashing out at the US. Can’t win. In terms of Web censorship, however, I believe the US is considerably better than the CCP. In fact, I know that, despite what we’re seeing with Wikileaks. To anyone who disagrees, I suggest they spend a day on China’s Internet and compare the number of blocked sites and searches to what they’ll find here. I don’t think this is a very radical or unusual observation. The persecution of Wikileaks doesn’t make the US government the CCP, even though it may take it down a big notch in that direction.

Poet:
The small print is designed precisely to take all rights away from the end user. Every single one of us is in trouble. Every single one of us has signed contracts that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on for the leadership of banks, ISPs, etc. They can and will bump you at will.

We all make fun of Chinese shortcomings (me included)… but actually… we’re just in a bigger cage, that’s all. And man, I HATE being in a cage and I’m going to scream at the jail keeper till the sun don’t shine.

I would agree with you if I saw a pattern of abuse. Wikileaks is a situation in a class by itself, I hope. If it isn’t and this sort of pressure becomes endemic I’ll get more concerned. But we have Stormfront (the neo-Nazi site) and and countless other scary, ugly, evil sites out there and they never get touched, including sites calling for a new government, sites calling Obama horrible racist epithets etc. Wikileaks, on the other hand, distributed classified information and, in the eyes of most Americans, caused the country a lot of embarrassment and headaches, and now threatens to do much more. It’s no surprise that a site like this gets singled out and its business partners pressured. I didn’t say it’s right, I said it’s understandable. Most Americans don’t see this as a free speech issue the way we do, but as a step to protect state secrets, which is why there is relatively so little public outcry against the banishment of Wikileaks, even from groups that are traditionally hyper-sensitive to any impediment to free speech.

December 8, 2010 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

@Richard

Do you think most Americans might warm up to Wikileaks if it continues its institutional life with revelations about, say, the Russian mob or UN corruption?

I’m thinking of the “mainstream” American attitude towards France – a truly dramatic change from 2003 to now… Sure it’s about Sarkozy, but Americans sure seem to change their mind fast. (Going the other way, wasn’t Saddam Rumsfeld’s best friend in the ’80s and then you lot had him hanged?)

I wouldn’t be surprised to find a statue to Julian Assange’s glory in NYC around 2025. I also wouldn’t be surprised if all the congressional leaders took turns at electrocuting his balls until then, if he gets extradited to the US. (They’d sure think it’d help with their re-election campaigns.)

Tough to call it either way.

Still, “Julian Assange Ave.” or “Assange Bridge” are names with a nice ring to them. Here, here, I’ll drink to our newest hero; flawed, troubled, but a hero nonetheless, brave, defiant, even mad, and surely tragic. If our civilization still wrote great books he’d be a source of endless inspiration.

When Guy Fawkes did his thing, the punishment for such people was to be “put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both. Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become prey for the fowls of the air.”

Oh dear, how impressively FOARP’s native land has improved in the meantime. Even if dispatched to Sweden or to the netherworlds, Assange’s fate would surely have to be considered much better! And let us drink to that as well.

December 9, 2010 @ 12:29 am | Comment

It will be interesting to see whether his jailing makes him a sympathetic martyr. For the foreseeable future I don’t think most Americans will view him as a hero. I saw him as a hero earlier, but now I just see a troubled man who outraged nearly everyone he worked with for his narcissism and egomania, and who seems bent on embarrassing the US and others with no strategy for prodding his victims toward constructive change, the way Daniel Ellsberg did. If he proves himself more as an equal opportunity mischief maker, going after Russia and China and Israel and the UK the way he’s gone after the US it might change this persona. Those who worked with him say he’s obsessed with going after the US, and if that’s the case I don’t expect to see a lot of sympathy toward him among Americans.

One of the NY Times most competent reporters wrote a profile of Assange in October that should be required reading. A sample:

When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”

Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.

In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason’s conclusion was stark. “He is not in his right mind,” he said. In London, Mr. Assange was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. “These are not consequential people,” he said.

“About a dozen” disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified “bad behavior.” Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from Mr. Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an organization that Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800 mostly unpaid followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers and to secure the system against attack — to guard against the kind of infiltration that WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.

Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.”

I’m not sure he has the stuff of heroes. For stirring things up and creating incredible controversy I give him an A+. He strikes me as utterly brilliant and seriously disturbed, even though I agree with his philosophy that the US needs to be reined in and sometimes exposed. If he did this more strategically, going after real malfeasances, I’d admire him more.

December 9, 2010 @ 12:43 am | Comment

Well, it depends on everyone’s working definition of the word “hero”. I’m a bit of an old-fashioned person myself, by that I mean someone truly larger-than-life, with great courage, but not necessarily displaying moral excellence.

Case in point: Napoleon. Personally, I despise the dude. But was he a heroic figure? Absolutely. (And he’s actually done plenty of good stuff in his ego-maniacal way, like an essential revamping of the legal system – the Napoleonic Code, which was at the time light-years better and fairer than anything else in Europe).

Even if you go back to Hercules and Achilles, you’ll find that their biographies contain lots of gory murders. Not nice people by any means – but heroes par excellence!

I don’t know where the notion that you have to be lily white to be a hero comes from… This is a word that has been extensively re-defined through the years.

December 9, 2010 @ 1:10 am | Comment

Time will tell, of course. To many Americans Daniel Ellsberg remains a villain.

December 9, 2010 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Richard
“Most Americans don’t see this as a free speech issue the way we do,…”

Fact of the matter is that a growing percentage of individuals, mostly in Western societies, DO see this as a free speech issue and the traction is just beginning. Tied with their support of Wikileaks is disgust and rejection of the diplomatic politics practised by their own governments. Rudd got his yesterday (loved it), and Assange support protests are proliferating: two in my burg this week alone.

Aligning this development along a US-China continium is not as productive as examining this digital event on its own terms. How it is going to shape and organise democratic forms of governance and citizen participation in the future. At the moment post 9/11, there is not a lot of reciprocity between governments and their electorates. They have enacted wads of legistration to strip away all notions of privacy and subject rights….national security, blah blah. (Certainly wish I had the keyboard skills to join this new war of attrition.)

All this US chatter about treason, termination etc is just so much surface symptom spittle, and look at the political hacks leading the charge. Lieberman should be asphyxiated, stuffed and shipped off to Israel. HR Clinton lusted for political power like something on heat, so now it is poetic justice that she has to deal with the blowback of her stock in trade.

December 9, 2010 @ 5:20 am | Comment

As an example of free speech, here’s a major contributer to a broadsheet UK paper.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-this-case-must-not-obscure-what-wikileaks-has-told-us-2154109.html

December 9, 2010 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Something seems odd about the Assange arrest thing. From what I’ve read, it seems that the Swedish prosecutor merely wants to interrogate Assange over the allegations. Mr. Assange wasn’t fleeing Swedish jurisdiction since I don’t believe he’s actually been charged with anything. It seems the investigation itself has yet to be completed in order for charges to even be considered. So is it common for Interpol to issue Red Warrants for someone who is just wanted for questioning? Of course, the timing of all this makes it fishy, but I wasn’t aware of an Interpol arrest being used in this fashion.

December 9, 2010 @ 8:26 am | Comment

Fact of the matter is that a growing percentage of individuals, mostly in Western societies, DO see this as a free speech issue and the traction is just beginning.

I hope so, but I just haven’t seen it yet aside from some Glenn Greenwald columns and fringe groups of hackers. Why do you say this is gaining traction? My prediction is it won’t gain traction because mainstream America, never the brightest bulb in the tree, tends to see Assange either as a traitor at worst and a reckless rogue at best. I’m only talking mainstream America, not the activists and Ron Pauls of this world. The free speech issue has not seen any traction to speak of in the US mainstream media, and unfortunately most Americans see Joe Lieberman as a patriot for helping silence Assange.

December 9, 2010 @ 8:39 am | Comment

Paypal roaches squirm:

http://gawker.com/5709579/

The entire thing *is* about free speech. Julian goes down, we all go down.

Haven’t seen ecodelta around here in a while. He must be busy keeping up the DDOS attacks :)

December 9, 2010 @ 8:47 am | Comment

@ Richard. I should have noted that I posted from Australia where we are Foxnews plague free, and it is front and centre *the big issue*, and rapidly putting a supine govt on the backfoot. There are however a couple of big local backstories propelling the issue.

Reckless rogues hit a soft spot in the psyche here, which goes to show that we still have some soul and spirit, and if it makes the local politicians squirm, all the better.

The US is not the centre of the universe even thought its drivelling pundits think so. God, even counterpunch.org is not making much of a meal of this event.

Real commitment to free speech or however one likes to characterise wikileaks: All PD posters should club together and organise a collective DOS ping.

This is a target rich terrain and ample proof that the US is completely incapable of resilience and Founding Fathers democratic reconstruction. Recall all the US sneering a few years ago about Europe being the repository of Old World corruption and passe values. The irony!

December 9, 2010 @ 9:20 am | Comment

Mwaha. If we do that the FBI party van just might knock on Richard’s door, confiscate his computer and maybe even punch him in the face.

By all means let’s do it, but not talk about it here.

Here’s a starting point for you folk who don’t know what you’re doing:

http://partyvan.info/wiki/Main_Page

By the way, Richard, I do hope you try to erase whatever details you get from your site’s visitors. I got nightmares sometimes, thinking that one of the IP addresses I left around here just might be traceable to me.

Paranoid? Yeah. Should I be? Hell yeah :)

December 9, 2010 @ 10:10 am | Comment

@KingTubby
“This is a target rich terrain and ample proof that the US is completely incapable of resilience and Founding Fathers democratic reconstruction. Recall all the US sneering a few years ago about Europe being the repository of Old World corruption and passe values. The irony!”
Brings this blog to mind :-)
http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/23804/

December 9, 2010 @ 10:58 am | Comment

Nice links and thanks. Lets be serious. The digital Sandinistas are not announcing their activities on a bridgeblog like this. If you want a good laugh, read the denial drivel being written on hidden harmonies at the moment, even if it is a small crowd, back scratching conversation of two.

December 9, 2010 @ 11:20 am | Comment

Why are there so many patriotic Americans so busy digging dirts out of China? What good does it contribute?
There are many issues in the US that need serious discussion, from education to infrastructure to debt to money politics. Are these not more important than busy minding Chinese affairs? …. See what you are all going to say when we have an “intellectual Sarah” as President.

December 9, 2010 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Have you ever seen this blog go after Sarah Palin? You must be new here.

December 9, 2010 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

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