Remember those diplomatic cables Julian Assange colluded with several reputable news organizations to vet and redact the names of those who would be made vulnerable? Seems Assange just unloaded all 251K cables with the names unredacted.

Everyone from the State Department to diplomats to human rights organizations did what they could to talk him out of this but it wasn’t enough to stop this batshit lunatic. These cables are estimated to contain, if you want to take the State Department’s word for it, several thousand names of people who would be placed in danger by this action and to refresh your memory some of these cables involve government persecution, locations of government assets, rape victims, whistleblowers, the whole deal, and now anyone who’s interested can not only get their names but do it in a convenient search system.

Why, other than the boundless voraciousness of one man’s ego and the fact that the public sort of lost interest in the slow release of these cables, would Wikileaks do this? I’m still trying to find a better answer for you than this, but Wikileaks conducted a poll, sort of a referendum, of their Twitter followers which according to Wikileaks predominantly believed this would be, you know, something to do, making these names public. Information wants to be free, right?

Meanwhile, with possible exception to his Twitter followers and some Bittorrent sites, it looks like the blowback from this is costing Assange, though not yet his life, all his friends. He won’t be receiving many Christmas cards any longer from newspapers who had him on their buddy lists including the NYTimes, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and the Guardian. Hopefully these organizations, all now on defense over this, learned their lesson about dealing with a man packing a heavily-encrypted “insurance” file grenade with a dead man’s switch, which ended up getting triggered by apparent incompetence between Assange and the Guardian, or some sort of deliberate accident.

And his book guys too (he wrote a book), he lost their support. Here’s part of a statement from Reporters Without Borders, some free speech trumpeting outfit who published Assange’s book, putting it softly about their moneymaker’s latest stunt:

Some of the new cables have reportedly not been redacted and show the names of informants in various countries, including Israel, Jordan, Iran and Afghanistan. While it has not been demonstrated that lives have so far been put in danger by these revelations, the repercussions they could have for informants, such as dismissal, physical attacks and other reprisals, cannot be neglected.

I don’t know how many people will be killed or just get ulcers as a result of this reckless and defiant exposure (and to what end?), maybe a bunch, maybe a small handful, maybe – hopefully — none, but I still want to think that this will doom Wikileaks for good. Maybe it’ll blow over like it did every other time he made the news as if we’re used to the steady escalation of his flagrance. That said, if any of you can come up with a way to defend what Assange did this time, this massive unredacted and unvetted dump of confidential and sensitive communications between and within many governments, I’ll bust out the popcorn.

Doug Simmons

17 COMMENTS

  1. Oh but the plot thickens. The Guardian, the British New York Times I guess, decided to cash in further on this and write a book about their dealings with Assange and it recounts the password exchange, how he wrote it down and cutely recited the final clue. Turns out that’s not only the password he used with the Guardian and presumably the other news outlets but with everything else including possibly the insurance file or whatever it is that’s been encrypted floating around the Internet and someone connected the dots, voila, name festival. No more black magic marker. So Assange is blaming the Guardian, saying What’s the big deal it’s already out there might as well leak it officially myself, the Guardian is blaming Assange, some are blaming both, some both but mostly Assange for starting this, and most of the rest were tl;dr before I made it to the second sentence. Maybe one other guy, who wanted a more professional and thorough run-through of this went here.

    Assange is being evaluated by the Australians as a target of arrest and prosecution with their police commissioner kind of guy saying he’s aware of at least one of these cables outing one of his intelligence officers which is, like pictures of flat-chested women, illegal in Australia. And Assange’s UK visa’s running out, plus he’s got that sex abuse thorn in his side. Poor lil’ fella. When it rains it pours, huh douchebag.

    Meanwhile the Guardian is writing a healthy share of articles about the news updates and editorials condemning his decision to dump everything and another that downplays their own culpability — all of which are pushing their Wikileaks book in printed and ebook form. Better make those book links blink, editors of the Guardian, you might have to pay for extra lawyers soon (if you can find any, heard the supply’s getting thin for newspaper lawyers over there).

    Bright side? It will be really challenging for either Assange or the next Wikileaks to build up the momentum of credibility and trust Wikileaks once sort of had to the point that it could amass enough information, or be presumed to have done so, to effectively blackmail the world with a mysterious encrypted file into not making it too difficult for you to publish sensitive things. Collateral damage rippling into the whistleblower community, which for the time being may have to settle for blowing whistles on duller and less confidential things like BP and Rupert Murdoch or whatever.

  2. Hey Doug, you may be unaware of the way that Assange is viewed in Australia, but I assure you that the majority would differ with you. If you care to look, you’ll find that Assange has been given a number of awards from journalism to peace NGO’s. The major issue that people like yourself have with him, I think, is that he has taken to heart a cause that is not about white Christian people. Very much like the other Aussie, David Hicks, who was coerced (read tortured) by the good white Christian United States supported by the giod white Australia to plead guilty to a trumped up charge invented 6 years after his alleged crime. The motto of the self righteous, we the good white Christians are the standard by which justice shall be measured and opposition to us is the standard by which evil is declared. It is my hope that Assange adds to the education required to undo all of Hollywood’s damage to your egos. Along with the decline of the American economy, American political hegemony is slowly being withered away by the Arab uprising and the surge of the Chinese and Indian economies. I wonder if you care at all for the dirty, smelly, black Arabs that have sufferred at the hands of the regimes that have fallen. Regimes put in place and kept in place by your country. I wonder if you care for children targeted by American made cluster bombs in the hills of southern Lebanon, hang on a minute, there not white Christians are they? Maybe a Hollywood lesson would help, watch “A Time to Kill”. Stick to mobility.

  3. What is ‘confidential’? Isn’t it just information that governments (or corporations) are trying to hide for whatever reason? Colour me a sceptic but most of the times, the reason is that individual or collective officials want to cover their ass against what could happen if their actions become known to everyone. There may also be reasons of national security like the locations of nuclear missiles and launch codes etc but Wikileaks doesn’t seem to be disclosing any of that even though it can be argued that making those missiles was wrong in the first place and retaining them for possible use for destruction of humanity is even more evil.

    The simple truth is that men (and women) in positions of authority carry out their dealings in a non transperent manner and several of them can be attributed to dubious or dishonest intentions or simply lack of wisdom. And then they try to hide it under the cloak of the-common-good-of-people (or country). Huh!! Do you really trust the wisdom of those individuals? I don’t.

    If you oppose Wikileaks for exposing the machinations of individuals and governments, it simply means you do not believe in equality of all men. You believe that its okay for some men to hold a certain piece of information (or knowledge) while the same needs to be hidden from others. Why? Are those others lesser mortals? Isn’t it discrimination on the basis of some misplaced sense of authority and responsibilty? Isn’t it the ‘white man’s burden’ philosophy of the medieval age, revisited in disguise, that held that some men are superior to others and therefore it is justifiable for them to do certain things that the others could not be allowed to? Isn’t your stance against the need for transperency in governance? Doesn’t it lead to corruption?

    You demand now that names be redacted from the cables before publishing. What for? To protect the privacy of individuals involved? As far as I know, these cables are ‘official communications’ and do not deal with personal activities like whatever went on beneath Clinton’s table in the Oval Office. At best these cables represent the personal opinion of some individuals in their official capacity, or actions that they did in their official course of duty. Does exposing it amount to breach of their privacy? For sure, the lives of persons engaged in espionage could be endangered. But hasn’t there been enough warning to various governments to recall their spies to protect them rather than asking Wikileaks to redact names? The government was the one who asked these spies to spy in a foreign land and its the government which benefitted from it. Now they want to shirk away from the responsibility of protecting these men whom they used and you support their stand?

    Aside from whatever kind of person Julian Assange is, of which I have no idea, the insinuation that he’s blackmailing the world is flawed to the core. As far as I know, he has not asked for any benefit for himself, pecuniary or otherwise. If he has, then he may be immoral too, but the collective immorality of individulas in governments and corporations that Wikileaks has exposed is a great service to mankind.

  4. Defense of wikileaks is comically sad. It is also hilarious the hypocrisy that people will vehemently defend their individual privacy while simultaneously arguing that the logic should not extend to governments, although the impacts are exponentially more severe. Equality of all men, are you serious?

  5. This is not entirely soft stuff about how Qaddafi can’t fly over oceans and likes to have some young Ukranian nurse and a bunch of virgins around him all the time. This is material that when it was first exposed, for a while it panicked our government, other governments and temporarily paralyzed the diplomatic community.

    We have complicated relationships with governments and we’ve got a nation full of people who hate this and that but it is in our interests to preserve good relationships with at least some of these countries through diplomacy.

    Like China, for instance.

    China’s got some bad habits most of us could do without, including all the pollution, human rights abuse, eating dogs, all that whacky censorship and as these cables very convincingly affirmed, government-directed computer espionage and sabotage. I learned what the politburo is because Cablegate revealed it was from that level of the government that these orders get handed down. On top of all of that, they look different, and some of this stuff doesn’t go over well with every American. Communism, tankman. Me, I think their traditional chopsticks are too smooth and frankly, I don’t care for them.

    The Chinese though, another habit of theirs is that they give us lots of money. I don’t know enough about money to try to quantify how much of their money is woven in to our economy or how vital and fragile a thing it is, but it’s a lot.

    For example, the Chinese have hundreds of billions of dollars invested in Fannie and Freddie. You can move a market by closing such a position, especially if you’re a government, especially if you’re the Chinese government, especially if you close it during the subprime mortgage crisis when their stake took an extraordinary hit.

    The Russians, sensing the US’s elevated vulnerability in general, also holding considerable bonds in Fannie and Freddie of their own, approached the Chinese and suggested that without warning the two nations dump an enormous amount of these bonds onto the market.

    The Chinese respectfully declined Russia’s invitation, though used the story as a parable to remind our treasury secretary of our vulnerability to them.

    Our situation in this world, with these other countries, is not so simple. And some of our political movements, well, they’re made up of some people who are both passionate and not that bright. I don’t trust them. These people I think you have in mind that you don’t want to trust, I suspect those aren’t the people banging out these cables, these are the people who keep things gliding.

    We all rely on an international community of diplomats to try to help keep the world from falling apart. We rely on our own to preserve friendly relations, relay information, somehow further our agenda, throw some friendly cocktail parties, make some speeches, park illegally and so on, acting as assets of our government, our friends’ governments and the UN. You may not see the need for them but the world does and history has. The US makes a strong effort to ensure the safety of these people, the State Department’s law enforcement arm being the most prominent of our agencies throughout the world and other major nations having similar operations to protect their own and those who are guests, including us.

    Maybe I didn’t study government enough but I have absolutely no idea how you can expect nations to exist on the same planet without a system of diplomacy. But if you do, though you take issue with confidentiality, I have secrets. I share various secrets with different tiers of my own circles. I’ve got my system, and it works. But it’s complicated. I imagine governments too have secrets (in addition to the diplomats and politicians and plutocrats themselves). That you’d expect them to operate effectively not only without some presumption of privacy and discretion but with total transparency is a refreshingly bizarre notion.

    You’re damn right that I believe that the world is better off with many of the people, lesser mortals or however you want me to phrase it to sound ugly, segregated (good word?) out of the loop of elite information, denied the ability to eavesdrop on the diplomatic operations of our country and others. Can’t say I’m too worried about the names, but I’m pissed off that he may have created a chilling effect not within Bradley Mannings of the future but with diplomats and their agents working for our interests. It’s been made harder for them to do that and I’d bet that that is a much greater cost than all this great good you’ve seen Wikileaks give the world. I don’t see the likes of Wikileaks as helpful the way you do, not overall.

    Hey, if you want in on some of the secrecy, nothing’s stopping you (unless you’ve got a criminal background, a history of sympathizing with Nazis or are mentally ill — the usual). But if this transparency thing is what you’re all about, rather than trying to talk some sense into me so that I can see the light too, well, good luck finding your way to Utopia.

    These diplomats, ambassadors, their families, the dignitaries, they’re nice people you know and I assure you that they’re probably worthy of your trust.

    That’s all I am at liberty to disclose to you though. What can I say, even some real smart guys like you aren’t on the list.

  6. If you cannot keep the world from falling apart without lies, deception, sham and false facades, which seem to constitute diplomacy by your definition, then obviously you’re doing something incorrectly and you better abdicate. Here, by you, I mean USA. In my previous post I didn’t mean any government in particular because I don’t see the idea behind Wikileaks as directed towards a particlar race, country or religion. But it seems Americans are smarting because they take it as an exposé of their subterfuge. I can understand the hurt, but then, truth is often painful. If the leaks would have been about my government, I would have welcomed it for the mere fact the it would put caution in the minds of later incumbents before they use underhand methods and pass it off as diplomacy.
    (I’m posting this from work, for a change – hence the ancient OS and browser)

  7. Hey Doug, calling it stress and duress, sleep deprivation, waterboarding or tickling with feather dusters changes nothing. It’s torture and the USA is in the same camp as China except that the US is a little more selective in who it dishes it out to and has better PR, read Dick Cheyney’s memoirs. You have an issue with Chinese HR record, but no issue with the US throwing Bradley Manning into a hole (read torture and human right abuse) for the last 8 months, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

    What’s your issue with eating dogs? Do the Chinese object to your breeding of poultry or beef for consumption, or is it something Noah didn’t put on his ark in the domesticated pet section? Are you vegan/vegetarian?

    I prefer Socialism over your Democra-Theocracy. Let’s see how much “the world” benefits from the US and the UN when the real WORLD votes in favour of granting the Palestinian people sovereignty later this month. What’s the bet the USA vetos along with Israel against the rest of the real WORLD. Then when militias form to provide defense and social security, Israel calls them terrorists then the American choir queues up at AIPAC to suck proverbial sausage.

    Lambs for the slaughter. Keep following your rich white elites into war with countries that did you no harm under the guise to do good but only create terrorism itself through your actions and policies.

  8. Ali, I was throwing out examples of what many Americans associate with the Chinese. The only beef I have with them is that their chopsticks, not talking about the disposable ones, are too smooth and slippery whereas, for example, the Japanese perfected the chopsticks.

    But the last thing we need right now is to piss off the Chinese over chopsticks. Gotta give them a pass on the chopsticks. Well maybe not, maybe the chopstick varnish and smoothness, length and such is worth me making an angry website over, but if I’m going to play economic Russian Roulette like that, I need those diplomats to sort of smooth things over with Beijing and report the general tenor over there back to Washington and have some tea with them.

    Look at us, I’m fuming about chopsticks, you’re flipping out over the Jews and proverbs about sausage .. we need things like the State Department handling some of this foreign policy stuff for us. I’d say screwing the pooch, which is what we’d do with all this transparency you want with diplomats, is a worse idea than eating the pooch.

    Both of you, I’m not talking about holding Dick Cheney accountable for waterboarding. These documents are not instant message logs between the Whitehouse and the Pentagon. My position is that the world absolutely must have diplomacy and among the things that that entails is affording diplomats discretion. It is not in our interests to crash this party. Wikileaks, Assange went too far, he obviously cannot be trusted not to go too far in the future as that is his wont, he needs to be dealt with more decisively, here’s an opportunity.

    Getting the video out of the Apache pilots gunning down the journalists with excessive glee and whatever else he did that you’re fond of, okay, but I draw the line at fucking with these diplomats.

  9. Its not in YOUR interest to crash the party, probably because you have selfish, hegemonistic and often ulterior motives while dealing with other sovereigns. Clean people don’t need to hide things.

    And stop taking refuge behind the oh-so-innocent-diplomats-just-doing-their-job. A diplomat in the Middle East (or in China, for that matter) probably understands the local people/govt and their needs & sentiments within months of his posting there, provided he’s nimble headed enough to look beyond the crap US indoctrination. But he has to carry out the agenda of the ignorant and insensitive State Department. Of course you need these diplomats to carry out the dirty work, but its your govt which has to take the responsibility for their bungling of world affairs. You created enough strife and suffering amongst people of the world already. You have caused enough deaths already. Now Shut The Fuck Up and go back to your shithole you call America. You are not needed in the real world. You’re a gate crasher and an unwelcome guest. So, start looking inwards and mend your stables before its too late. Else you’ll keep playing your diplomatic games and the Chinese will buy everything in your country bit by bit and then make it to explode into a million tiny pieces. And the Indians will do the same to Europe if they toe your line for long. You don’t need fucking diplomacy. You need education so that someone amongst you may learn enough sense to try and save the wonderful country your illustrious forefathers dreamt of.

    Sorry Mobility Digest, for talking politics on a tech blog and for the vituperative language, even though its several degrees milder than what your apology-of-a-blogger Simmons spews on these pages. But if you don’t limit the damage soon, you’re going the same way as your beloved diplomatic country – downwards.

  10. Haters gonna hate.

    As a disabled, former member of the military, the State Department, and various other government entities… I can proudly say “Fuck you”.

    As for the original purpose of this post, wikileaks is making it damn hard for shit to get done. You want real world? People are out there trying to make other people’s lives miserable. Do we have to goto extremes sometimes to make sure that they are kept in check? Sure. Do we have sensitive information that could alter trade agreements, peace agreements and other activites? Yes. Does “free information” access of classified documents and sources possibly jeopardize these? You bet your ass. The USA was not founded to make just OUR citizens’ lives better. Our declaration was that ALL men were created equal. Our goal isn’t to make the USA a unique place, but help the world rid itself of tyrannical, oppressive leaders that have no regard for individual rights, cause famine and genocide, and creat ripples in world peace.

    Politics and electronics have little in common, but from the outside looking in, it must be crystal clear. Never have we sacrificed to save others… Oh no….

    We are just the big ‘ol secretive, greedy, self absorbed Americans who have gone into financial ruin in interest of making the world safer for more people….

    Again, to you sir, I say fuck you.

    Jobs bless America…

    Oops, that slipped right out…

  11. Hey Chris, all men created equal huh? Let’s see (approximately) 3000 Americans die on 9/11, America starts the War on Terror™ and in the process kills on average (based on lowest estimates of NGOs) 2,000 Afghans and 10,000 Iraqis per years since then. That’s 120,000 lives mate. Not just fucking dirty filthy Arabs, people mate. Mothers, fathers, sisters etc. That’s 40 innocent people murdered by the good USA for every 1 American. Never mind that other estimates (we don’t county dirty arab bodies, we estimate the dirty fuckers) put the ratio to 400 dirty Arabs for every 1 good white Christian American. All men equal you say, keep believing what you’ve been told mate, hoorah. I think your War on Terror™ has inspired 400 “terrorists” for every 1 that was killed (if you killed any).

  12. Hotmail alias and Ali, you are idiots. Not because you hate America, that’s your prerogative. You are garden variety idjuts because you rationalize the morality of what wikileaks has done based on your hatred of America. Selective morality is in and of itself immoral.

  13. Dmoney, get this straight. I don’t hate American, hell I don’t even hate Israel. I hate when people who close their eyes to the actions of their country for a century and want to commentate on a politically sensitive issue. The USA is a rogue state, as much and if not more than Iran, China and North Korea. They have been in a position of international authority for years and have abused it every step of the way. From Cuba to Venezuela, Iraq to Afghanistan, Israel to Egypt, Saudi to Bahrain. American has been directly responsible with tampering with those nations systems of governance to the detriment of their people. The purpose of revealing these cables is to show the world how hypocritical and oppressive your country has become. Assange has done what no international court of justice can, try the leaders of the USA for war crimes. If no proper court can be erected for that purpose, then a public expose should suffice. All communications should be private and confidential, but just as is done with criminals responsible for at lease 100,000 or potentially 1,000,000 dirty black Arab filthy civilians deaths, their communications are investigated and their crimes made known to the world. If you guys don’t appreciate the martyrdom of Assange in all of this then great suspicion and cynicism (read hatred) if the USA will continue to increase. Assange’s crime, is very much like the actions of the USA, they were done without consent of the international community.

  14. And burn the rest of the world in the process. Assange is the Joker from The Dark Knight. Your singleminded focus on rebelling in America getting it’s just desserts blinds you to the reckless, narcissistically immoral rot in the brain of this anarchistic clown that threatens to deconstruct the orderly operation of diplomacy, whether one agrees with the politics of these webs of nations or not.

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