WikiLeaks - Dec 14
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Swedish documentary on WikiLeaks: "WikiRebels"
Sveriges Television (SVT)
In less than a year Wikileaks has grown from a rather obscure website to a global political player, shaping world history and events, by revealing secret documents about warcrimes, corporate corruption and shady political backdoor dealings. Over several months a crew from Swedish Television has been following the secretive media network and its work behind the scenes. The result is a one hour feature documentary that tells the story behind the story.
Programinformation: SVT:s fördjupande och granskande dokumentärer med Sverige i fokus. Kolla när du vill i SVT Play - fri television på nätet
57 minuter 25 sekunder
(12 December 2010)
Nicely done documentary in English, that includes the latest events. Heavy emphasis on the Iraq videos released by WikiLeaks. On my system, the video is jerky at Medium resolution. It seems to help to set the viewer to Low Resolution (the green dots to the right of the Loudness control - set it to "låg," that is, to "low".)
SVT is Sveriges Television, Swedish public television. -BA
International Manhunt for Julian Assange - Daniel Ellsberg
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
(9 December 2010)
Comic relief. Video at the original. First Colbert rounds up a posse for Assange. Then he interviews Daniel Ellsberg. -BA
Wikileaks defectors to launch Openleaks alternative
Jonathan Fildes, BBC
Wikileaks' former second-in-command is gearing up to launch an alternative to the high-profile website.
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who left the site after disagreements with its founder, plans to launch Openleaks in the coming months.
The technology, which can be embedded in any organisation's sites, will allow whistle-blowers to anonymously leak data to publishers of their choice.
Its founders say it will address problems they had with Wikileaks.
"We felt that Wikileaks was developing in the wrong direction," Mr Domscheit-Berg told BBC News. "There's too much concentration of power in one organisation; too much responsibility; too many bottlenecks; too many resource constraints."
He said that the team did not want the responsibility of deciding what was or was not relevant and what would be good for the organisation as a whole to publish.
"This is the wrong question and should never be asked."
Unlike Wikileaks, Openleaks will not publish or verify material; leaving that role to newspapers, "NGOs, labour unions and other interested entities".
... Instead, Mr Domscheit-Berg said the organisation would be a "technology provider", supplying anonymous online drop boxes for organisations.
... Over time, he said, the group hopes the network of participating organisations will become more "diverse, complex and dynamic", which will afford more protection when dealing with sensitive material.
"With each new entity you are adding more nodes to the network; you're adding more complexity to the network so everyone is protecting everyone else."
The result, he said, would be "technically and legally very powerful"
(13 December 2010)
WikiLeaks may make the powerful howl, but we are learning the truth
Henry Porter, Observer (UK)
... the leaks are of unprecedented importance because, at a stroke, they have enlightened the masses about what is being done in their name and have shown the corruption, incompetence – and sometimes wisdom – of our politicians, corporations and diplomats. More significantly, we have been given a snapshot of the world as it is, rather than the edited account agreed upon by diverse elites, whose only common interest is the maintenance of their power and our ignorance.
The world has changed, not simply because governments find they are just as vulnerable to the acquisition, copying and distribution of huge amounts of data as the music, publishing and film businesses were, but because we are unlikely to return to the happy ignorance of the past. Knowing Saudi Arabia has urged the bombing of Iran, that Shell maintains an iron grip on the government of Nigeria, that Pfizer hired investigators to disrupt investigations into drugs trials on children, also in Nigeria ...
... Never mind the self-serving politicians who waffle on about the need for diplomatic confidentiality when they themselves order the bugging of diplomats and hacking of diplomatic communications. What is astonishing is the number of journalists out there who argue that it is better not to know these things, that the world is safer if the public is kept in ignorance. In their swooning infatuation with practically any power elite that comes to hand, some writers for the Murdoch press and Telegraph titles argue in essence for the Chinese or Russian models of deceit and obscurantism. They advocate the continued infantilising of the public.
Nothing is new. In 1771, that great lover of liberty, John Wilkes, and a number of printers challenged the law that prohibited the reporting of Parliamentary debates and speeches, kept secret because those in power argued that the information was too sensitive and would disrupt the life of the country if made public. Using the arcane laws of the City of London, Alderman Wilkes arranged for the interception of the Parliamentary messengers sent to arrest the printers who had published debates, and in doing so successfully blocked Parliament. By 1774, a contemporary was able to write: "The debates in both houses have been constantly printed in the London papers." From that moment, the freedom of the press was born.
(11 December 2010)
Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks
Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare (Hard National Security Choices)
- I find myself agreeing with those who think Assange is being unduly vilified. I certainly do not support or like his disclosure of secrets that harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated. It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch. The Executive was unconscionably lax in allowing Bradley Manning to have access to all these secrets and to exfiltrate them so easily.
- I do not understand why so much ire is directed at Assange and so little at the New York Times. What if there were no wikileaks and Manning had simply given the Lady Gaga CD to the Times? Presumably the Times would eventually have published most of the same information, with a few redactions, for all the world to see. Would our reaction to that have been more subdued than our reaction now to Assange? If so, why? If not, why is our reaction so subdued when the Times receives and publishes the information from Bradley through Assange the intermediary? ...
- In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing toward wikileaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.
- Whatever one thinks of what Assange is doing, the flailing U.S. government reaction has been self-defeating. It cannot stop the publication of the documents that have already leaked out, and it should stop trying, for doing so makes the United States look very weak and gives the documents a greater significance than they deserve. ...
(10 December 2010)
About the author: "Jack Goldsmith is Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. He is the author, most recently, of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside The Bush Administration, published by W.W. Norton in 2007, as well as of other books and articles on topics related to terrorism, national security, international law, conflicts of law, and internet law. Before coming to Harvard, Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from October 2003 through July 2004, and Special Counsel to the General Counsel to the Department of Defense from September 2002 through June 2003. ..."
The US Government's Pursuit of WikiLeaks Could Be Its Undoing
Peter Kirwan, Wired/UK
This is about as good as it gets for the United States of America. Backed by the righteous anger of lawmakers and commentators, hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of the nation's brightest brains are working toward the goal of making Julian Assange answer for his alleged crimes in a US court.
Those engaged in this effort should enjoy the thrill of the chase. If Assange is successfully extradited to the US, a sobering experience will follow. Prosecuting the founder of WikiLeaks could very easily turn into a nightmare. In formal terms, Julian Assange will be the man standing trial. But the participant with the most to lose will be the US government. Victory, if it arrives in any formal sense, will feel pyrrhic.
The US government's position is weak because it possesses relatively few reliable legal tools. Prosecuting Assange under The Espionage Act of 1917, America's version of Britain's Official Secrets Act, still looks like the best option.
Ranging far more widely than its title suggests, the Espionage Act criminalizes the communication of "information relating to the national defense", which "the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States." The act theoretically makes criminals of Julian Assange, the newspaper editors working with WikiLeaks and anyone who reads, or even Tweets, about the contents of a classified cable.
The law's sweeping nature has troubled judges for the best part of a century. As a result, administrations have become reluctant to deploy it.
... Yet perhaps the biggest risk of all resides in the actions of the US government to date. Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, but didn't go to jail. The case was dismissed after evidence emerged of "prosecutorial misconduct". These efforts included an attempt to bribe the presiding judge. White House operatives were also dispatched to break into the offices of Ellsberg's doctor in an effort to steal medical records that could be used to discredit him.
It would beggar belief if the Obama administration sabotaged its case in such a crude fashion. Yet errors of judgement become a distinct possibility when the atmosphere gets this febrile.
Already, there are straws in the wind. Solicitors representing Assange in London have spoken of intimidating letters from the State Department and heavy-handed surveillance. In September, according to The New York Times, three laptops that Julian Assange checked into the hold of a nearly-empty flight from Stockholm to Berlin went missing. They have never been recovered.
Most of all, the courts will be interested in any evidence that the US government authorized denial of service attacks against WikiLeaks. US judges tend to take a dim view of extrajudicial attempts to restrain publication.
Sit back and add it all up: if the founder of WikiLeaks enters a US courtroom, his options will multiply. The government's will diminish. This looks like a classic ju-jitsu moment in which an underpowered defendant can turn the sheer body weight of a prosecutor to his advantage.
(13 December 2010)