back to article UN defends human right to WikiLeaked info

The United Nations has responded to the ongoing WikiLeaks kerfuffle, urging member states to – ahem – remember the basic human right to access information held by governments and other public authorities. In issuing a joint statement on Wikileaks with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations (UN) …

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  1. ratfox Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Sounds good to me

    Of course, they cannot make accusations, but they certainly indicated that they are more worried about the US government going too far than about WikiLeaks going too far.

    Not that the US needs to pay attention to UN if they do not want to.

    1. BillG
      WTF?

      Highly Hyper Hypocrisy

      Not that ANYONE ever pays attention to the UN. Seriously, have they ever stopped a war or done anything remotely useful?

      And now the UN is talking about basic human rights? This has more irony than the leaked Swedish documents on Assange's arrest. UN corruption is responsible for more human suffering than Hitler.

      Why is it that whenever the UN sends troops anywhere that do NOT include troops from the USA, the UK, or Australia, that those troops end up engaging in human trafficking, mass slaughter, and wholesale rape?

      The hypocrisy of the entire Wikileaks scandal just gets better and better.

      Up next: Michael Vick joins PETA.

      1. raggjarboffel

        no clue

        you obviously don't know what you are talking about. Take the UN peace keeping mission in Lebanon. The UNIFIL mission does not include US, UK or Australia, but has been fairly successful and there are no reports of mass slaughter, rape or human trafficking.

        So I am wondering if you can mention which UN missions that are enganging in such activities that you suggest?

      2. foo_bar_baz
        Grenade

        Anglocentric, a little?

        You're saying peace keepers from New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland etc. are traffickers, rapists and killers. Probably true. Or maybe you're full of it.

        The UN rules would have stopped a recent war that resulted in about half a million civilian deaths, had the USA followed the rules. Instead we got "freedom fries".

        But I get it, if you're from the USA, UK or Australia you're *always* the "good guys", never mind what the facts say. For example, US troops in Iraq are there under a UN mandate and they have NOT, EVER engaged in rape or torture, no siree.

        http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/06/iraq

  2. Ashton Black

    As if the US cares.

    The US hasn't listened to the UN for many years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      That's not quite true.

      Didn't Hillary Clinton get in some hot water for listening to the UN?

      1. John 104

        Hillary

        She will get into more hot water if she tries to pawn this rediculous small arms ban on the US citizens...

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge
      WTF?

      As if the US cares?

      Ok, name an instance where the US lstened to the UN, one, can you? No!

      1. penguin slapper

        One instance...

        I seem to remember them making much of the UN Resolution requiring a certain Mr. S. Hussein to disarm.

    3. BillG
      FAIL

      As if anyone cares

      No country has EVER listened to the UN - EVER!

  3. jaduncan
    Thumb Up

    Wow.

    As UN politics goes, this is remarkably ballsy. I'm impressed.

    1. BillG
      WTF?

      WOW

      As UN policy goes, this is remarkably hypocritical. Even by UN standards of hypocrisy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Treason.

    "...hasn't already been charged with treason."

    Well, dur!

    Because he is not a US citizen. You can only commit treason against your own government to which you have pledged your loyalty.

    Where the f*ck do these people come from for Christ sake?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      erm

      America. You know, those world police guys? The ones who apply 'extra territorial jurisdiction' to countries around the world when it suits them?

      1. John 104
        Grenade

        America...

        You know, the ones who pulled your asses out of the fire during WW2 and continue to keep the rest of the world in line so you can drink tea and eat crumpets in peace.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Treason

      Julian is most definitely treasonous.

      Remember that Julian is Australian, and the US owns Australia, and its politicians. Of course the US is right to regard Aussies as owing allegiance to the US. What good has Australia ever done for itself that the US did not do for it? Julian ought to be grateful, rather than bite the hand that feeds him. Most definitely treasonous, IMO.

      1. Yamal Dodgy Data
        Big Brother

        Not as far fetched as it sounds

        With Labor Party stooge Mark Arbib being the American's plenipotentiary

        http://www.smh.com.au/national/arbib-revealed-as-secret-us-source-20101208-18prg.html

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re Treason

        The real problem with some 'merkins is they lack knowledge of the outside world. Well, there is the USA, a border (to Mexico), the Axis of Evil and an obscure, medieval place called Europe. If you speak English you are most definitely American. French or German speakers must be European. Wetbacks speak Spanish and all other are either communists or terrorists or both.

        In short, Assange is American hence he is a traitor.

        1. Scorchio!!
          Headmaster

          Re: Re Treason

          "The real problem with some 'merkins is they lack knowledge of the outside world."

          Your spelling errata make you seem silly, not clever:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkin

          Merkins by definition know very little if anything. In fact they probably only know one intimate thing. That is all. Do HAVND old bean.

        2. John 104

          Actually..

          The truth is that we are very aware of the outside world and their endless conflicts over countless centuries. And thats why we live where we do thank you very much.

    3. Goat Jam

      Pledged my loyalty?

      I must have missed doing that.

      1. MonkeyBot

        THey use the BT model...

        Loyalty, like consent, is implied.

    4. bluest.one
      Stop

      A title is required, regardless of whether it offers any value or worth

      >You can only commit treason against your own government to which you have pledged your loyalty.

      Apparently I can (factually, legally) commit treason against the UK. I can assure you that under no circumstances have I pledged loyalty to the shower of bastards who consider themselves our ruling classes (including their corporate bretheren).

      Treason does not mean the breach of an oath of loyalty.

    5. BillG
      WTF?

      Treason? No. Spying? Yes.

      You're right, Assange can't be charged with treason.

      That's why he's being classified as a SPY.

      @skelbank, I agree. Who is the Mensa candidate that thinks Assange can be charged with treason, of all things?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Grenade

        @BillG

        Except that he isn't a spy either.

        He's just somebody who has hugely embarrassed a bunch of politicians and diplomats. The US government wants to portray him as a spy to suit their aganda of shooting the messenger.

      2. Basic

        Emphasis

        "Mensa Candidate"

        Emphasiss on candidate

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Duplicity is the order of the day?

    Can't help but wonder if the kerfuffle would be other ways about were someone to wikileak documents about N Korea or Iran bids to nuclear power with leaks sourced within those countries themselves.

  6. Spanners Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I vote he gets a Nobel Prize

    Just like many other people, he has put himself at risk in bringing information into the public domain which we deserve to know.

    He has conservatives, rednecks and morons (they are different you know) asking for bad things to be done to him.

    Anyone who has upset all 3 of those groups at once must have some redeeming qualities...

    1. Rattus Rattus

      @Spanners

      "He has conservatives, rednecks and morons (they are different you know)"

      Not that different. Aren't the first two just subsets of the third?

      1. BillG
        Happy

        @Rattus

        When we talk about liberals, hypocrites, and idiots, aren't we talking about the same thing?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is very bizarre

      That so many people are against Wikileaks, i.e., they want to know less stuff about what government(s) are doing on their behalf. Isn't the gov't supposed to work for us?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Not so bizarre

        As always, the problem is where to draw the line, since this is never black & whie.

        If a government were acting against me, or in ways that I don't approve, of course I'd want to know.

        On the other hand, if it were acting against other people to protect me I may not need, or want, to know, but I *certainly* wouldn't want those other people to know.

        This is where the likes of Assange and Wikileaks are a problem. In their arrogant confusion between "in the public interest" and "of interest to the public" they have usurped the right to make that decision. I didn't elect Assange, nor his fellow leakers, and I would prefer them not to carry on as if they had some mandate to decide how I should be governed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Last sentence is correct

          You're right, Assange shouldn't decide how you should be governed, YOU should. That means being informed about your situation. If you need protection (from Nazis, terrorists, whatever) you should understand the threat and what's being done about it, for you, on your behalf. It is impossible to do this if your government is keeping secrets from you.

          You say you want to be aware if your government is acting in ways that you disapprove of. How about this:

          http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/24/wikileaks/index.html

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not so bizzare

        I'm against a lot of what Wikileaks have done*. Not because I don't think there should be transparency, but because Wikileaks haven't been very responsible about how they do what they do.

        Dumping any and all documents just because you can isn't whistleblowing.

        Failing to properly redact names and then simply stating that it's collateral damage isn't exactly responsible.

        Don't give the shite about how the US Embassy refused to help redact the information. Given that they didn't want it published, they're hardly going to help are they?

        There's almost definitely a call for these sites, but Wikileaks doesn't currently fit the bill of a whistleblowing site. More of an egotistical information dump (though I'd imagine that may change if they get shot of JA).

        I've a view on whistleblowers that probably contrasts to a fair few on here, but that's a story for another day.

        Anon cos I'm at work

        * I say a lot because they have definitely done some good, think Humanitarian type stuff.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Rigorously vetted

          Maybe you are talking about an older leak? With the most recent leak (diplomatic cables), only a tiny percentage of the 250k cables were released and those were heavily vetted and redacted by news organizations such as the Guardian. So they hardly dumped "any and all documents" or "failed to properly redact names"--quite the opposite. It sounds like Wikileaks is doing EXACTLY what you want; maybe you should reconsider your position re: being against them.

          1. BillG
            Pirate

            Deliberately Leaked

            Actually, in the recent, serious leak, some of the documents posted on Wikileaks were NOT redacted. These included the names of Afgans that supported US troops. The news has already reported that the Taliban has the names and a few supporters and their families are already dead.

            If I remember correctly, Wikileaks initially posted the documents, then ten hours later posted redacted documents. it gave the impression that Assange wanted it both ways - he wanted to make the names public so a s to get these people killed, then later act as if it was all an accident.

            Assange deliberately got good people killed and he profited from their deaths.

            1. Graham Marsden
              WTF?

              @BillG

              "Assange deliberately got good people killed and he profited from their deaths."

              Really? Who got killed and how did Assange profit from their deaths? (BTW You might like to look up the definition of "libel" at some point...)

            2. foo_bar_baz
              FAIL

              "If I remember correctly"

              OK, we already know you for what you are, stop being so obvious. As they said, this is one of the benefits of the leaks besides the information itself.

              Citations or be gone.

            3. bean520
              Go

              Really?

              This is interesting. Can you post a reference to the article?

    3. Joseph Slabaugh
      FAIL

      Why are you picking on people?

      I am a Conservative, and I am NOT against him. I believe he has done a lot of good, even if the government wants to make him look bad.

  7. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Bravo for the UN!

    "Without the protection of this right, it is impossible for citizens to know the truth, demand accountability and fully exercise their right to political participation."

    And that says it all.

    Governments represent their people, so the people have a right to know what the Government is doing in their names.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Bravo for the UN

      I wonder If this could be used to trump "Commercial Confidentiality" clauses that stop us being able to read contracts that the Government enter into.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      WTF?

      @Graham Marsden: Really?

      So when was Assange an elected official to any government? Or an ambassador representing a country to the UN?

      The point is that Assange is not someone who has either the authority, experience, or ability to correctly disseminate information on the behalf of any government.

      Suppose Assange leaked reports from the UK that showed that the UK government did something embarrassing? How long do you think Assange would be 'free' on bail within the UK? Commonwealth Citizen or not, he would be deported back to Australia ASAP.

      Back in Australia? LOL... Assanage is a convict. He plead guilty to hacking the US. Why do you think Assange is trying to get citizenship in Sweden?

      The UN reiterated their position on the need for making information public under a set program. Nothing Assange did remotely represents that. What the UN fears is that there would be a repeal or curtailing of FOIAs in Western countries.

      And no, you're wrong. There are things done by governments in the name of their people that you or others have no need to know. At least not for 50 years or so.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Boffin

        @Ian Michael Gumby

        "The point is that Assange is not someone who has either the authority, experience, or ability to correctly disseminate information on the behalf of any government."

        In other words he's not a party flunky, political spin doctor or someone with a vested interest in protecting the careers of politicians.

        Those sound like eminently good qualifications to me!

        As for your supposition, why would Assange be treated any different from anyone else who has leaked embarrassing things about the British Government?

        And why am I "wrong" because *you* and the Government think that the people that elected them don't "need to know" things that were done in their name? Does that include things like using our own troops as guinea pigs for biological, chemical or radiological research? Does that include co-operating in the USA's "extraordinary rendition" programme where people were illegally flown from UK soil to places where they could be tortured? Does that include forcibly shipping out the population of Diego Garcia island to allow the Yanks to set up a base there? Does that... (this list could go on for a long time).

        I can accept that *some* information needs to be secret if it will affect existing operations or put at hazard those who have participated in past operations, but blanket impositions of "it's secret because we don't want you know and it might make me look bad" simply don't wash.

        1. Scorchio!!
          Thumb Down

          Re: @Ian Michael Gumby

          ""The point is that Assange is not someone who has either the authority, experience, or ability to correctly disseminate information on the behalf of any government."

          In other words he's not a party flunky, political spin doctor or someone with a vested interest in protecting the careers of politicians.

          Those sound like eminently good qualifications to me!"

          I'll avoid Godwin here, but it is clear that as a self appointed guardian of public morals and standards he is accountable to no one, apparently takes very little into account when releasing data - and he has acknowledged that:

          "He said that some leaks risked harming innocent people—“collateral damage, if you will”—but that he could not weigh the importance of every detail in every document. [...] A year and a half ago, WikiLeaks published the results of an Army test, conducted in 2004, of electromagnetic devices designed to prevent IEDs from being triggered. The document revealed key aspects of how the devices functioned and also showed that they interfered with communication systems used by soldiers—information that an insurgent could exploit. By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices. I asked Assange if he would refrain from releasing information that he knew might get someone killed. He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands."

          http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=9

          IOW he's acknowledged the probability that he has harmed people, he being unelected/self appointed.

          "Soon enough, Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most—power without accountability—is encoded in the site’s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution."

          http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=10

          IOW, in spite of your apparent complacency, there is an obvious need to have him accountable (arrested I would say). You have absolutely no way, from any perspective, of being sure that this man genuinely represents the public good (in the international sense), and yet you think he has "eminently good qualifications"? Perhaps standards dropped lately. Perhaps people are again more easily gulled, and that would make sense inasmuch that this could be a massive SE job. I'm definitely not supporting this man, and not simply because he is unnaccountable, unelected, self appointed, but also because from his history he is clearly a convict. Julian assange, was convicted in or around 1991 for;

          1) stealing passwords from US Air force 7th Command Group in the Pentagon;

          2) for hacking computers at two universities;

          3) hacking computers at two telecommunications companies;

          4) hacking computers to monitor the Australian Federal Police investigation into *his* criminal activities.

          Note the last one. This constitutes a gross and fundamental form of interference with the course of justice, within his own country. The judge who let him off lightly, rather than the indicated 10 year sentence of imprisonment, was probably SEd by Assange. Certainly the judge ought to have taken into account the gravity of the last offence, especially its meaning and import for the future.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down

            @Scorchio!!

            To pick one example: "By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices."

            So a) the Army were aware of the problem and b) they *still* deployed the original technology *even though* they knew there were problems. Would *we* have known about this had Wikileaks not revealed it or would it have been hushed up, do you think?

            You go on "IOW he's acknowledged the probability that he has harmed people" but you're distorting "might" into "probably has" which BTW still has nothing to do with him being "unelected/self appointed".

            As for the rest of your "power without accountability" argument, you're really missing the point, go back and read again what I considered the "eminently good qualifications" I mentioned were and then consider whether the "standards" of our elected representatives are what you would expect in a responsible and democratic country.

            If anyone should be arrested, it is those at the top of our power structures (such as those responsible for the lack of security of the computer systems that he hacked!) not someone who reveals *their* complacency.

      2. Armus Squelprom
        Big Brother

        Bollocks to that

        "And no, you're wrong. There are things done by governments in the name of their people that you or others have no need to know. At least not for 50 years or so."

        That was the bad old days, and they're not coming back.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          WTF?

          @Armus Bollocks?

          Really?

          Suppose the US Government has some secret meetings with the Syrians and Lebanese governments in an effort to assist in Middle East peace talks. Suppose that the mere mention of these talks could cause the process to break down? [This is a hypothetical example BTW...]

          Sometimes it takes a couple of generations before people are ready to learn some of the secret truths behind what happens. Having someone like Assange dump this type of information months after a peace negotiation is completed could have disastrous effects and definitely people would get hurt.

          Looking at Assange's past performance and his hatred of the US, he would feel justified in making this information public.

          Is this an example of the 'bad old days'? I don't think so.

          How about this... What happens if/when the Israelis bomb Iran's nuke production site(s) and Assange leaks that the Saudi and other Arab states gave quiet permission to allow Israeli and US aircraft fly within their air space? (Again this is a hypothetical example.)

          Again, 'bad old days'? I don't think so.

        2. Scorchio!!

          Re: Bollocks to that

          ""And no, you're wrong. There are things done by governments in the name of their people that you or others have no need to know. At least not for 50 years or so."

          That was the bad old days, and they're not coming back."

          Secrecy will never go, never mind 'come back'. That is because, even now, there are personel putting themselves in harm's way, fighting terrorists in Ulster and in Afghanistan. Military decision makers are subject to protection, as are the mechanisms in place to counter the activities of creatures who would certainly not blink if you died in a Warrington style bomb.

          http://www.30yearrulereview.org.uk/

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down

            @Re: Bollocks to that

            Again Scorchio!! misses the point.

            At the moment the Government and the Civil Service can, effectively unilaterally, decide that "the people don't need to know this" and slap a 30 year rule restriction on it when the restriction on releasing the information involved is more to do with covering someone's political backside than risk to anyone's security.

            Nobody is arguing that information on current military or security operations should be released willy-nilly without any care as to the results, so please stop bringing up this specious claim.

  8. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Ahem... Reading is Fundemental...

    Here's the first quote from the UN...

    "The right to access information held by public authorities is a fundamental human right subject to a strict regime of exceptions,"

    This is a key point that many of the Wikileaks followers don't quite understand its ramifications.

    What the speaker is talking about is that there should be a FOIA in place. I don't believe that the UN is defending wikileaks or even approving of an arbitrary 3rd party disseminates information at their own pleasure.

    What the UN doesn't want is for countries to clamp down and restrict their information in light of Wikileaks.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Agreed

      The first quote is very telling, they're not endorsing the idea that _ALL_ information should be made public.

      But then given some of the turdspurts coming from both sides, it's easy to see how people start automatically inferring new meanings into a simple statement

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Right. Because the UN is a glowing bastion of international relevance

    ...or not.

    A pocket full of fancy ideals would be one thing, How it works out on the ground would be, often, quite another.

  10. thecakeis(not)alie

    Right to information.

    Citizens to have a right to know what's being negotiated on their behalf : the whole ACTA fiasco is a classic example of what is essentially a violation of our human rights. At the same time – though it will get me eleventeen squillion downvotes from the zealots – there is legitimately some information whose release will endanger people. (Military and covert operations being only the beginning.)

    Are our governments classifying /way/ more information than they should be? Without question. I think we as the individuals who make up our various nations should be on our various parliaments’ lawns demanding change in this manner. Open government with as much transparency as is reasonably possible. Starting with campaign contributions, corruption, backroom dealing and who is owned by whom.

    There need to be legal protections for whistleblowers. Indeed, countries that have ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be required to provide political amnesty and safe harbour – exempt from extradition laws – for whistleblowers. Under two conditions:

    1) Countries should have special recourse for the extradition and imprisonment of individuals who leak information that results in the deaths of others. As mentioned above: the rights to citizen’s access to information are not absolute; there are very narrowly defined specific circumstances in which “national security” actually means something.

    2) Individuals should not be allowed to use such whistleblowing safe harbour as a means of escaping other legitimate crimes.

    The wikileaks bit is a mess. A complicated bit of faffery that has been blown out of proportion and hyped by so many different people with so many different agendas that the truth is lost. The signal has overcome the noise. Whistleblowers are critical to the proper functioning of a society – I hold Cryptome up as an example of excellence in this field – but there are limits. Where those limits do – and should – lie is hugely up for debate.

    Whilst I disagree with a lot of what has happened as part of this little fiasco, the one thing I am glad of is that we – the various nations of the western world – are finally sitting down are starting to define these limits. Where is the line between “a citizen’s right to know what his government is up to” and “disclosure of this information will endanger lives?”

    We can only hope that the current culture of perpetual, constant and all-encompassing secrecy will be curtailed and driven back. If only it doesn’t get lost in the shining glow of one individual's grab for the limelight and the resulting blacklash of entrenched interests.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
      Joke

      What are you doing here?

      This may be El Reg, but surely logical argument on a Wikileaks post has been banned?

      *OH* it hasn't? Must be some serious astroturfing going on

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @thecakeis(not)alie

      Do governments need to be more open about the information they gather,create, and disseminate?

      It depends.

      It depends on which government, what sort of information, and what risk does that information pose to its national security?

      There are some things that at the time are not good for the common person to read. Especially when its taken out of context.

      That is why there are things like the FOIA and an existing declassification process that allow classified information to become declassified.

      To dump information that is regarded as classified and confidential with total disregard for the context or censoring of the information is in fact a dangerous act and can have unintended consequences.

      Assange clearly doesn't care who he hurts as long as he can get his way. Assange was convicted of hacking US systems in the past and this prior bad act (yes there is a legal ramification and legal meaning to that phrase), this prior bad act indicates a pattern and an agenda on the part of Assange.

      Those who praise Wikileaks seem to have selective filtering and fail to grasp the entire picture.

      The UN's message is that it would be wrong to rewrite the declassification process, create new laws to limit free speech in light of Wikileak's actions.

      Is Assange a follower of Nietzsche's principals and believes that he is an uber man? That the laws that govern us do not apply to him? If you read some of the links provided by other posters to articles and interviews of Assange, you will start to find flaws and cracks that would indicate he's delusional.

      Should there be whistle blowers? Sure. You bet. We have a Whistle Blower law that allows the Whistle blower to be rewarded when they blow the whistle on a company's bad acts. But that's not Assange. Nor is he or Wikileaks a part of the press.

      1. thecakeis(not)alie

        @AC

        I think you are falling into the same trap as the hive minders. They viciously attack anyone who does not appear to be lauding Assange as a hero. You appear to attack anyone who does not attack him.

        Let me make myself and my positions crystal clear to all:

        I believe that Assange has handled this entire situation unbelievably poorly. Whilst I have never met the man face-to-face, his actions, sound bites and the few interviews he has participated in leave me to believe his strongly egotistical and possibly incapable of empathy with another. I could go on in detail - and back it up with references - but in all likelihood it would get moderated by Sarah. El Reg rightly doesn't want a sueball lobbed their way because some commenter badmouthed the Almost Man Of The Year.

        On the other hand, I believe that the art and practice of whiltleblowing to be critical to the proper functioning of a modern social democracy. I believe that the United States is rushing headlong into true fascism – a very small “elite” of individuals continuously shifting places within the elected hierarchy backed by and enormously favouring corporate interests. Strict corporate libertarianism - to the point that corporations are very nearly more rightly considered “citizens” than individual human beings are. Similarly, it is pursuing a gradual but steady erosion of civil liberties and the concept of “guilty unless innocent.” As the United States is the standard-bearer for western society, this descent into madness is dragging other countries along with it.

        Without whilstleblowers, the populace will never know what is going on. We will be the proverbial frogs in a pot of boiling water: by the time we choose to act, it will be too late. It is thusly that I hold up Cryptome as the epitome of who is “should” be done. They have been doing this for a lot longer than wikileaks, and without the Drama Llama excrement being lobbed at any rotating air circulation devices.

        Some might argue that the wikileaks drama has brought this whole issue to the front-of-mind for many citizens, but I would argue differently. What it has done is made governments aware of how dangerous whilstleblowers are. At the same time, nothing shocking enough was ever revealed. That means that the entire thing is already rapidly fading from the public consciousness. People care about it in the same way they “care” about a tsunami hitting the coast of India: vaguely interesting, but it doesn’t affect them directly and there’s Christmas shopping to be done. Maybe they’ll donate something to the cause if it is made as easy for them as texting “to lazy to care” to *667 on their cell phones.

        The timing was bad. The public relations was handled poorly. Worst of all, the entire thing degenerated to be about Assange instead of the concept of whistleblowing in the first place. We are now right back where we started: a few nerds and anoraks truly care about the cause, but Joe Blow American has gone back to watching “Oprah” and really couldn’t care.

        So don’t confuse my belief that whilsteblowing is a critical element of a modern social democracy with a belief that Assange is right, good, pure or has handled this situation with anything like a sense of professionalism or “needs of the many” ethical toolkit.

        Whether rightly or wrongly, I view Assange almost identically to how I view Zuckerberg. One runs a social networking site, the other a whilstleblowing site…but for all intents and purposes I view the personalities of the two individuals as cognate. I also don’t particularly like what I have observed in either of them.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @thecakeis(not)alie

          I don't know why the post showed up as an AC, I clearly don't post as an AC unless I have to protect my identity. (My nickname is unique enough that people know who I am.)

          I think our positions are closer than you think. Unfortunately Assange isn't a whistle blower on anything that prevents companies or governments from doing harm. His release(s) some innocuous while others can be shown to harm not just US interests but real lives of real people. As I posted earlier, there's a couple of posters who've provided links to articles that show Assange for whom he really is.

          Information taken out of context can be a really bad and dangerous thing.

          There are a lot of differences between Zuckerberg and Assange. Zuckerberg doesn't believe he's beyond the law. Zuckerber doesn't follow Nietzsche... Zuckerberg also has ties to a real community. (He gave money back to the Newark NJ school district.) (Assange and Wikileaks raised money for Manning's defense. Yet this money hasn't reached Manning.)

          Assange is the harm. A digital terrorist.

  11. Asymetrie

    The UN actually gets it right.

    The UN announcement on the Wikileaks bruhaha was quite an unexpected and welcome surprise. Until this announcement, the voice of reason has been drowned out by the primitive scare mongering of 'digital McCarthyism' that has flooded the news media. The path to a mature, intelligent and compassionate humanity depends on open and honest access to information which allows the common person to make informed decisions. Governments of course, find the concept of an aware populous to be anathema.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Sir

      "Governments of course, find the concept of an aware populous to be anathema."

      I've goggled that phrase and it appears to be entirely synonymous with

      "Governments are scared shitless of an aware populous."

      I've only posted this in the interests of efficiency as it just takes up less letters :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Populace, please.

        That is all.

      2. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        People should not be afraid of their Governments...

        ... Governments should be afraid of their people.

        Alan Moore - V for Vendetta.

  12. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Pint

    League of Nations?

    My long distant history lessons are vague but isn't the UN like the League of Nations set up at the beginning of the 20th Century? The one all the countries signed up to to avoid war, then promptly ignored the second some royal mate, of a mate, of a mate was shot by a nutter in the Balkans. Next thing you know 20 million were dead in trenches all over France!

    1. Steve X

      not quite

      The League of Nations was created *after* the Great War, in 1919. After 8m or so were lying dead in trenches.

    2. David Biggins

      League of Nations

      No, it was set up in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War in an attempt to avoid a rematch. It had some sucesses in its early years, but failed in the end with the rise of Nazi Germany (who left the League in 1933 if I remember rightly).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      History not so good then

      My long distant history lessons were not so vague and informed me that the League of Nations was set up after WW1, mostly (I think) as a result of a USA president (Wilson ?).

      So, even though it failed in its ambitions, it can't be blamed for the death in the trenches.

    4. bdeclerc

      League of Nations *after* WW1

      Your history lessens are vague to the point of mangling the timeframe. The League of Nations was set up *after* World War I (the trenches-in-France war) to prevent it from reoccuring.

      It failed because it was basically a "Revenge agains Germany" thing and Adolf and his cronies came to power and started doing their own thing. Next thing we knew, millions of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and handicapped people were being gassed and tens of millions of other people died around the world.

      So yes, the UN is somewhat similar in that it was also set up by the winners of a World War, but they did at least attempt to learn from the mistakes made before.

    5. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Boffin

      oooooh

      Not trenches, not some roayl mate ... La Societe des Nations, League of Nations, was set up AFTER WWI - to prevent a WW from ever happening again ... we all know what happened next, right?

    6. Robert E A Harvey

      seriously vague

      The League of Nations was set up After the first world war, precisely because of the desire to avoid a war. It was discredited by the outbreak of the 2nd, but is an important predcessor to the UN in many ways.

  13. Jacqui

    merika with the new jihad

    Its now a holy war against WL - and they called it "WTF" :-)

    Are bible bashing politicos the new mullahs?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      WTF?

      Clearly you don't get it.

      Since you're not an American, you don't seem to understand how things in America work.

      Yeah we got our bunch of Nutters on the right and to the left. But guess what. The US Government allows them to exist, to a point. That point is when those nutters start to do harm to others.

      Its ok for the Religious right to meet in their Church and believe what they want. They can camp outside a Medical Clinic which may provide abortion services and protest the act. But when they harass and kill doctors, bomb clinics? That crosses the line.

      Same thing for the left too. (Other groups too.)

      We defend the right to your free speech, to a point. Not all speech is protected speech. (And this is a point that many seem to forget.)

      There is no 'war' against WL. WL crossed the line and it will be dealt with in accordance to the law. Assange will be shown exactly who and what he is.

      I would hope that those who defend WL without understanding the consequences to its actions will learn the dangers that WL represents. Assange is an anarchist. And an anarchist in a free society can be a very dangerous thing.

  14. Aron
    Coat

    Subversion by any other name

    Apply this shiz to China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia and some of those Stans in Central Asia. If they comply fully, then we'll follow.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Stop

      How about ...

      ... leading, instead of following? You might be surprised at how well that works.

      1. Oninoshiko
        FAIL

        Re: How about ...

        yes, see how well the "not setting up national firewall to filter incoming information" thing is working...

        oh wait, China is still doing it. Aussies are doing it, now too. Blighty is considering it. N. Korea just bans the internet outright.

        Hmm, sure, this is going to work...

  15. mhenriday
    Boffin

    Three cheers for the UNO and the OAS !

    But M Frank LaRue, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the former organisation would be advised to polish his resumé - as many of its officials, even the highest, have learned to their cost, retribution on the part of the US government is swift and severe if one, no matter how previously compliant, has dared to perform an action which can be interpreted as «disloyal» to the interests of the Empire, which demands fealty of citizens and non-citizens alike. That is why Joseph Isadore Lieberman (whose greatest loyalty seems to be to another entity than the United States) could demand to know why the US government had procrastinated in charging Mr Assange....

    Henri

    PS : «Aron», you haven't been keeping up with your homework - had you done so, you would realise that the UNO Special Rapporteur has indeed been taking the Chinese government to task (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm) - but then again, that fact wouldn't have influenced your opinion on this matter, now would it ?...

  16. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    The problem

    with all the wikileaks stuff is the consequences.

    Now that South Korea knows that China does'nt really care who runs North Korea so long as the government is friendly to China, the South Koreans can be a lot belligerent towards North Korea

    And with North Korea's leaders reacting to it, that could spell war

    So, if as a result 250 000 people die in the resulting conflict, thanks Mr Asss.

    Ps Yeah I know my spelling sucks

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Both knowledge and ignorance...

      ... have consequences. Knowledge allows for informed decisions to be made, ignorance doesn't, therefor knowledge is better in general.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Just to reiterate a point...

        Here's the first two paragraphs from an Article in The Chicago Tribune...

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-obama-insular-presidency-20101225,0,5881054.story

        Reporting from Washington —

        In the West Wing it had become a pretty common sight: two national security aides with close ties to the president, Thomas Donilon and Denis McDonough, hurrying into the Oval Office to show him the latest piece of hot intelligence.

        Some administration officials who watched the scene unfold worried that James L. Jones, the national security advisor at the time, was being left out of the loop and that Obama was being given raw reports before their meaning and import were clear.

        -=-

        And this kind of prove the point that one should be concerned when information is provided without providing the proper context.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        FAIL

        Knowledge requires understanding...

        An information dump without the proper context will allow for people to draw a wrong conclusion and their actions will do more harm than good.

        Information without understanding is dangerous.

        In a court of law, the courts do not recognize any source of information that occurs outside of the courts. This could be considered intentional ignorance. The benefit is that the courts judge the case based on its merits. That is, information presented in the courts and allows the courts to make an 'informed' decision based on the facts presented and only the facts presented. Thus one can argue that a structured 'ignorance' can allow for an objective view and an impartial judge. (This is why the penalties for intentionally withholding evidence are so high.)

        1. Armus Squelprom
          Thumb Up

          Sometimes superfluous

          "An information dump without the proper context will allow for people to draw a wrong conclusion and their actions will do more harm than good."

          The USA is free to provide any context, explanation or evidence it wishes. This situation is a great opportunity to have an adult dialogue with their citizens.

  17. chrisjw37
    Thumb Up

    FOI and mode of Government

    Thus demonstrating the difference between fascist or Dictatorship governments and Democratically elected Governments.

    QED

  18. David Neil

    League of nations

    Actually the league of nations failed when Japan walked out after they were roundly condemned for their invasion of Manchuria .

  19. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. JasonB
    Happy

    If governments want to claim to be open ...

    ... they should be more careful about going to war ...

    The UK pretends to be open with its FOI Act, but that is just designed to let us know about things like the number of potholes in an area or how many beds a hospital has not the real reason government has decided to go to war or whether they know a war was illegal or not.

    ...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UN and corruption

    The UN may like to see US secrets and dodgy dealings uncovered but they have been less enthusiastic about such revelations from their own organisations. Maria Veiga, an auditor for the UN's WMO uncovered serious corruption in the organisation, as part of her job - she was rewarded by the UN by being harassed and eventually, dismissed from her job. The UN were forced to pay her almost half a million dollars in a subsequent court case.

    Then there have been prostitution scandals in Bosnia and arms-for-gold deals in Africa.

    Maybe the UN should clean up their own act before pontificating about others.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Ahhh, An American - Prostitution BAD, Killing People Is OK!

      Love, War, Making, Not ?? Please try all possible permutations of these words.

  22. Martin Nelson
    WTF?

    Is it really a HUMAN RIGHT?

    Leaving aside the wikileaks crap for a moment....should this really be a human RIGHT?

    It seems to me that it's impossible to be a basic human right because a country without a government would make this "right" inapplicable. Even so a level of secrecy is necessary in a great number of operations.

    Can anyone shed light on this?

    1. Scorchio!!
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it really a HUMAN RIGHT?

      "Leaving aside the wikileaks crap for a moment....should this really be a human RIGHT?"

      I studied philosophy and politics some years back. One prominent topic was that of human rights. The lecturer discussed various viewpoints, including one in which putative 'human rights' became more extensive - ' inclusive', if you will - at the expense of the majority, in favour of those in a trouble making minority who, increasingly, learn to use the language of human rights in order not merely to reinforce their human rights, but also to cow, intimidate (look at recent Labour PC legislation) and control anyone likely to disagree with the over inclusive minority group have any rights at all.

      The debate between the positivists and the natural law folk came to the point where the question, 'is there such a thing as a natural right' was actually answered by the positivists. The answer of course was the right to life. The rest - right to broad band connections, right to assembly, right to strike, right to receive welfare, right to insult a host culture [..] - is mere flummery of people whose thinking is over inclusive (in the sense meant by cognitive psychologists and philosophers), people who over extrapolate a large tranche of non sequiturs from a small number of principle, discrete concepts.

      Be sure that a lot of people will apply the argument from shouting loudest/longest (as I am away from my library at home I don't have the technical term to hand), and shout down anyone disagreeing with them. That is why the Martin Niemöller cold war era homily has never to be forgotten by those wishing to see truth and not distortion of it prevail:

      They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

      Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.

      Assange is self elected and has his own view of what the truth ought to be, how it ought to be handled and distributed. He has made it clear - as evidence by an earlier quote from me - that some of his 'leaks' will result in harm. Assange has clearly indicated that this is a trade that he, an unrepresentative, unelected and self appointed individual, feels is the true good for all.

      Does anyone posting here really believe that Assange is an expert on the true source and nature of truth (epistemology), and that he knows better than the original Platonic view that it may be immoral (possibly illegal) to return to a 'man' his spear, knowing that he may use it to kill another? There are many similar moral dilemmas, and it is I think clear from comments made earlier by someone else that Assange is not qualified to make the sorts of decisions that he does - and actually these are made by people in their fields, not by politicians - indeed, if you look at his academic record you will I believe find that he failed his degree, because he was paying more attention to playing with bits and bytes (not a problem of itself, but not a qualification in axiology) than he was to philosophy, neuroscience and such like.

      Julian Assange appears to be a typical, self absorbed geek, unaware of the consequences of his deeds (or he would not have broken so many laws, never mind hacking police computers in his own country, to monitor an investigation into him), and not very well schooled by his limited education in understanding the consequences of his behavioural acts in a variety of domains. He is the last person with whom I would entrust a national secret, simply because I cannot see him understanding the import of such a thing, never mind what he might do with it. We see now the consequences of such an individual (who poses as a journalist of all things) possessing such information, and there is more to come.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/dec/21/julian-assange-memoirs

      Plus also the apparently planned 'pay per view' leak portal, and his now very fat salary. This man is just another money grubbing ideologue and, I suspect, something of a demagogue. A fat cat for sure.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    The Elephant In The House Is Named "Assassination Threat"

    VP Canidate Sarah Palin: "Declare Wikileaks a Terror organization"

    "In a November 29 Facebook posting, Palin.... And she also wrote, "Assange is not a 'journalist,' any more than the 'editor' of al Qaeda's new English-language magazine Inspire is a 'journalist.' He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?""

    The Member Of The U.S. Senate Lieberman wants to indict Assange for "Espionage". Assange is NOT a U.S. Citizen and does not live there:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thecutline/20101207/ts_yblog_thecutline/sen-lieberman-suggests-ny-times-violated-espionage-act"

    Canadian PM adviser calling for plain Assassination: "Thomas Eugene Flanagan is a political science professor at the University of Calgary, author, and conservative political activist. He also served as an advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper until 2004. Flanagan's scholarship has focused on Native and Metis rights in Western Canada, particularly on Louis Riel, leader of the 1885 North-West Rebellion. Recently, Flanagan made controversial comments that advocated the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on live CBC television on November 30, 2010.[1]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Flanagan_%28political_scientist%29

    The USofA should better be reminded that killing people without "due process" is a Method Of The K.G.B.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Sorry but the US hasn't anexed Canada.

      You post links to a radical right thinking Canadian and somehow attribute those remarks to the US and US Government.

      As to your and other insistence that Assange can't be prosecuted for espionage, here's the definition:

      Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. ...

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage

      But wait... here's another 'legal definition'

      "Espionage Law & Legal Definition

      Espionage is the crime of spying on the federal government and/or transferring state secrets on behalf of a foreign country. If the other country is an enemy, espionage may be treason, which involves aiding an enemy. The term applies particularly to the act of collecting military, industrial, and political data about one nation for the benefit of another. "

      http://definitions.uslegal.com/e/espionage/

      "Espionage Act Law & Legal Definition

      The Espionage Act is a federal legislature enacted in 1917. The Act criminalizes and punishes espionage, spying and related crimes. The Act prohibits not only spying but also various other activities, including certain kinds of expression. The Act pursuant to 18 USCS § 793, provides that a person will be punished with fine or imprisoned not more than ten years if s/he copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense. The Act deems any person a criminal if s/he is found obtaining information with respect to the national defense with a reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the U.S "

      And here's another post.

      http://thegazette.com/2010/12/12/assange-should-face-treason-charges/

      (See Pat Smith's comment)

      But back to the point...

      from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40653249/ns/us_news-wikileaks_in_security/

      "In this written roundtable discussion, a diverse group of three panelists:

      • Predict that Assange will be indicted and that the indictment will survive a legal challenge.

      • Disagree on the question of whether Assange is a journalist. But they agree that even if he is deemed a journalist, that may not save him.

      • Describe the prosecution's greatest weaknesses, starting with getting Assange onto U.S. soil for a trial.

      • Discuss what may be an overwhelming handicap for the defense if there is a trial: Assange's personality. His statements that he intends to harm the United States won't help him with the judge. And a jury probably won't like him, the panelists predict. "

      -=-

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        @Ian Michael Gumby: Canada, UK, USA, UKUSA, NORAD And the KGB

        I appreciate the fact that Canada is formally a somehow independent nation. Formally, the head of state is the Queen of England, though. Also, Canada is part of NATO, the UKUSA intelligence collective and part of the NORAD system. Many (most ?) Canadian weapons systems like the F-18 are bought or designed from/by the U.S.

        Especially UKUSA and NORAD are an indication of the strongest government cooperation one can think of. UKUSA is a central element of the Anglosaxon government system. The American government *will* ultimately *care* what UKUSA partners (Britain, NZ, Australia and Canada) say in international diplomacy.

        Many nations around the globe have a fist in their pocket whenever they talk to America, but they are willing to have a more positive attitude when they talk to a politician from Canada. Because Canada is generally seen as less belligerent than the U.S. So a suggestion for assassination (so to speak) by a person who had the ear of the Candian Prime Minister will definitely be received by Washington and Langley as a sort of "Green Light" from Canada for outright Tshekist Methods being applied.

        George Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell could be indicted in Den Haag or Nuremberg for

        A) Illegal War Against Iraq

        B) War Crimes related to A)

        C) Criminal Neglect Of Security In Iraq leading to 100000 Civilians Killed.

        Killing 100000 people, what kind of penalty does that carry ?

        So we better don't be too picky with the law and the Anglosaxons should be really smart what they do with Assange. Don't pull too many dirty tricks against Assange or you will lose

        A) your own freedom

        B) the support of quite a few friendly and civilized countries around the globe.

        Mr Assange looks very much like me and if you just "send a hit team" I myself could be the next to be "sent a hit team". And that makes me lobbying for Stronger Defense Of My Country Against the Langley Threat.

        If you want to be like the K.G.B. just kill him. I will then lobby for Germany to quit NATO, as I don't want to conspire with Tshekists. I will certainly not be successful on the short run, but the Steady Drop Creates A Cavity, as we say.

        Stop that shit, ok ?

  24. Kebabbert

    Nelson Mandela was a terrorist

    once. But now he is respected. Julian Assange is a terrorist now, says USA.

  25. Michael C

    Simple rules could have allowed much of this released

    The cables in general should be released, provided they're redacted such to remove the names of companies, geographic location of valuable things, and names of individuals. Further, the cables should be scrubbed and classified properly for relation to ongoing international issues for matters of national or international security and active efforts in the field necessary to keep secret.

    The classified terms on any documents restricted to certain eyes should always expire based on a variable time frame, not a fixed amount. For example, if something was classified because it involved an action in planning or that had not yet happened, it should only be classified until such a time as the action became public.

    That said, certain communication over cable is no different than in a room with a person. If its an official communication, it should equally be documented either way, and unless it requires classification for tripping a clearly documented rule, the conversation should be released. However, if it is unofficial communication; the tossing around of ideas not really viable to be implemented, maybe it should not be. People put bad ideas on the table during open discussion, and that has no bearing on the public impact of that discussion. Also, politicians HAVE to be free to discuss even unpopular ideas, and have those conversations maintained as private. So long as what the Government is DOING and PLANNING is out in the public eye, we really should not concern ourselves with what they're brainstorming on they have no intent of actually turning into an action, unless it's related to an ongoing action or public concern. This is magnified when comments can be easily taken out of context and presented in colored lighting by propagandists and lobbyists.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    what ever next

    in the process, mr solange and co may have visited a number of innocent parties, speculation of course, and come to the conclusion that the best possible way ahead was to visit http://www.buylegaldrugs.co.uk and look on the forum for all sorts of dodgy pipes!

  27. william henderson 1
    Thumb Down

    as far as i can tell...

    the only time the US ever listenes to the UN is when the UN is spouting something agreable to the US.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Assassination Suggestions Of Assange

    It is quite true that Palin stopped short of suggesting an Extralegal Killing of Assange. But you don't need to be a codebreaker to understand that she meant this. Her reasoning was: Assange == Enemy Propagandist. Enemy can be killed in war.

    So: Green Light for killing of Assange by Palin. The Canadian PM Adviser was just a bit more blunt.

    Regarding the Espionage charges, if they don't carry the death sentence it has a least the smell of legality and civilization, despite being ridiculous when it concerns someone on different soil for the "time of the crime". And of different nationality...

    Maybe Germany can make use this to lock up a Time Magazine journalist who asked too many questions ? I can see the shitstorm if we did this in very realistic colors.

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