Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Wellington Cables

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  • Don Christie,

    Ask Ali Ikram how he’s feeling about the Star Times story. Stitched up is the answer.

    Isn't that the fault of, you know, journalists?

    So it is the SST that "fosters a culture of conspiracy", no? Actually, more like a conspiracy of shit reporting.

    On topic a little more, it is worth understanding that NZ is a relatively open society. Our governments tend reflect this in their official dealings with overseas governments and also in the way they engage with their citizens. This is a good thing and nice to have it sort of confirmed in the 9 released cables.

    But it doesn't mean we should suspend our oversight, otherwise the US will come in a start killing us...trade agreement by trade agreement.

    http://twitter.com/TPPWatch

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I’d rather have a king that plays the tenor sax and clarinet, records albums of the same with his jazz band . . .

    Somehow I doubt that he’d be likely to cover this particular Peggy Lee number:

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Yes, not at all familiar with how it works here.

    given the number of very old acts that the BC tour here, one could be forgiven for thinking that their primary purpose was to entertain the ageing swarms of retired British sailors and shopkeepers who have found true love on the shores of some of the less attractive southern beach resorts with a girl a quarter their age (and her extended family).

    Or perhaps to reassure young Thai bands that all English acts are flatulent, past it and pose no threat.

    That is if it wasn't for the other stuff they do, most of which it seems involves kids with no strings attached.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    They love him for a reason!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Or perhaps to reassure young Thai bands that all English acts are flatulent, past it and pose no threat.

    Heh, I couldn't help but sing along to one popular song when I was there. The Thais pissed themselves laughing. Turns out the lyrics I was singing were "It hurts! It hurts, it really, really hurts!"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Ask Ali Ikram how he’s feeling about the Star Times story. Stitched up is the answer.

    I can't see how else a direct quote from such a doc could be written any other way. Stiched up? Surely just quoted. After all, the whole point is that it is an American View of who they selected isn't it? I would have thought that a perception such as that is worth knowing. I suspect you may think, Russell, that Ali didn't think he might be tagged in such a manner. From a receiver of such an "award" that may be so. But from the giver it IS obvious they were trying to find "friendly" journalists. Surely.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Don Christie,

    Actually, more like a conspiracy of shit reporting.

    It goes all the way to the top.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    Isn’t that the fault of, you know, journalists?

    So it is the SST that “fosters a culture of conspiracy”, no? Actually, more like a conspiracy of shit reporting.

    To a fairly receptive audience, it must be said.

    This thing exists publicly for 60 years, then suddenly a bunch of people start talking like it’s a scandal.

    Because, in my view, the presence of any information in a Wikileaks release tends to frame it in a certain way.

    I’m also extremely disturbed by the lengths to which a frighteningly large number of self-proclaimed champions of Wikileaks have gone. Like this guy, who explains why he posted the addresses and phone numbers of the two, poor Swedish women on the internet:

    Posting their addresses and phone numbers isn’t intended to encourage vigilantism, but to send a bigger message to women like Ardin and Wilen – if you lie about being raped, this is what will happen to you. Your anonymity will be compromised, your life will be laid bare for all to see, and your name will be destroyed. No rape shield law or journalistic ethic can protect you. You will suffer as the man whose name you vindictively dragged through the mud has suffered.

    I want women to see that their choices have consequences. If enough false rape accusers have their identities and personal data exposed to the jeering Internet hordes, others will think twice before they accuse men of heinous crimes for petty and selfish reasons.

    Ugh. But he, too, believes he’s part of the great revolution. And have Assange’s lawyers done a thing to disabuse him and those like him of that notion? No, they have not.

    They have consistently implied he is the victim of a conspiracy, when all the reports from Sweden suggest that Assange’s practice of treating Wikileaks as a non-stop groupie pool in a country with strong laws around sexual conduct was a significant contributory factor in what has happened to him.

    I’m finding that revolting, and I don’t think it’s irrelevant. Neither are the recent defections from Wikileaks, or the eyebrow-raising internal correspondence that’s been leaked. In offering him unquestioning praise, we’re saying we’re happy with a great deal of power resting in the hands of a man whose erstwhile colleagues, and that includes the two Swedish complainants, have some very serious problems with him.

    As with the two previous releases, Cablegate has revealed some very important stories (and also the spectacle of many US foreign service staff acting professionally and well). As a small shareholder in Scoop, I'm delighted that Scoop is hosting the local cables in such a useful way. But I’m not really down with the revolution according to Julian. Or with reciprocal internet vandalism – by both sides – being jazzed up as “infowar”.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Feel free to disagree.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Mason,

    From a receiver of such an "award" that may be so. But from the giver it IS obvious they were trying to find "friendly" journalists. Surely.

    I actually think the section on the journalists is hilarious, and in keeping with the bullshit tone of most what we've seen from the Wellington embassy. Read it: the author is not only claiming credit for every conceivably favourable thing any of them have written or said since, but for their subsequent professional success. Perhaps they've also written or produced some things that cast America in a bad light -- but obviously he's not going to tell the boss that.

    And the reference to all the journalists by their first names is sort of sad.

    Can you not see the danger of treating the blatherings of an ambassador who wants to keep a scheme that's already been cut in half (he expresses the hope that the Edward R. Murrow scheme will pick up the slack) as empirical fact? The Wellington cables are interesting and valuable in part because they give us a look inside the ambassador's head. Not a pretty place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The journalist or MP concerned needs to declare the source and deal with the consequences of that themselves.

    And the same applies if the source is the US. If people feel their reputation has been tarnished by the public reminder of their involvement in the program, then perhaps they should have thought about that before taking money from a pack of torturing warmongers.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1717 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    They have consistently implied he is the victim of a conspiracy, when all the reports from Sweden suggest that Assange’s practice of treating Wikileaks as a non-stop groupie pool in a country with strong laws around sexual conduct was a significant contributory factor in what has happened to him.

    Can I just point out that it's entirely possible that the accusations against him are in fact false and vexatious? The idea that it's up to Assange and his lawyers to argue otherwise seems... odd, in the extreme. Sounds from the rest of the paragraph that you have pretty much decided he had it coming because he sleeps around, which is, again, frankly quite odd. Having lots of consensual sex surely is not enough in itself to qualify you as a rapist? Just so we're on the same page. (And I'm not pre-judging it the other way either, for the record, but FFS.)

    In offering him unquestioning praise

    I haven't come across too many people who do that to be honest. But still, at this particular historical time, to argue that WikiLeaks in some form of other in not something that we need would be extraordinary. Making it obsessively about Assange and his philandering is a way of obfuscating that argument of course. And whilst I'm with you on the unseemliness of the attacks and the smearing campaign on the two women, the fact that you seem to have taken offence on behalf of PayPal and Visa and a Swiss bank for the inhuman DoS attacks they've received - this against the historical backdrop of illegal wars, mass immiseration caused by banks, renditions and so forth - is a source of continuing puzzlement.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    And it's the message(s) damn it. How the hell they got out is beside the point really.

    I have absolutely no issue with a country having an intelligence service. I just wish that there was more of the "I" used. What I find difficult to accept is the way these cables feed back and forth into our policies and actions. Noone can deny that they have influenced our politicians actions. This, in turn affects us - directly sometimes - makes the collection legitimate and the subsequent actions based on and from them not so.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Sounds from the rest of the paragraph that you have pretty much decided he had it becoming because he sleeps around, which is, again, frankly quite odd. Having lots of consensual sex surely is not enough in itself to qualify you as a rapist?

    No, it is not. I did not say that and at no point have I said that. But, as the Guardian reported, even his colleagues were concerned about his behaviour with women. I do think there are ethical issues in exploiting your position as leader of an organisation that makes moral claims as strong as Wikileaks' to get sex on tap.

    I'm appalled by the way US politicians are acting with respect to Wikileaks and Assange (although the polls suggest a majority of the public is with them, sadly). I think talk of a stitch-up to extradite Assange from Sweden is ludicrously speculative, given what the extradition agreement between the US and Sweden, and extradition law in general, actually says. I would contribute money to a defence of such an action being taken, even though it seems unlikely.

    But I inadvertently kicked off this whole theme by offering the opinion -- before this all blew up -- that Assange should go back to Sweden and sort this thing out. I'd have to say that remains my view.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Can I just point out that it's entirely possible that the accusations against him are in fact false and vexatious?

    yes it is possible and it is possible that they are false and vexatious and also not part of a CIA conspiracy as Assange and his legal team allege. An allegation as preposterous as it is self-serving.

    But still, at this particular historical time, to argue that WikiLeaks in some form of other in not something that we need would be extraordinary.

    we have elections, Obama won. There was a substantial peaceful change in the direction of US politics. Nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I do think there are ethical issues in exploiting your position as leader of an organisation that makes moral claims as strong as Wikileaks' to get sex on tap.

    There are more or less the same ethical issues that there are in exploiting your position as the leader of a band that rocks as much as The Rolling Stones to get sex on tap. Seriously.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    From Al-Jaz / Frost.

    Perhaps I'm easily swayed by legal-speak but large parts of what Assange's brief is saying seems fairly reasonable to my untrained ears.

    I'm not sure if any of us could endure the 7 years he claims this may take to resolve.

    Or perhaps the Swedes drop the warrant and the US issues one simultaneously to get him in front of that alleged Grand Jury in Virginia. Given the last decade and what led to the current uproar in Spain, I don't think that's an impossibility or a wild conspiracy theory in the works.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    we have elections, Obama won. There was a substantial peaceful change in the direction of US politics.

    Such as?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    And the same applies if the source is the US. If people feel their reputation has been tarnished by the public reminder of their involvement in the program, then perhaps they should have thought about that before taking money from a pack of torturing warmongers.

    Yes, Bill Rowling, Alan Mac Diarmid, Dame Anne Salmond, Gareth Farr
    Sir Jon Trimmer, Dame Marie Clay, Dame Jean Herbison, Anne Meade, Ron Paterson, Jamie Belich, Sir Kenneth Keith, David Baragwanath, Wiremu Kaa, David Cunliffe, Iosefa Enari, Simon O'Neill, Roger Hall, Bill Manhire, Joan Druett and Michael King should all be very ashamed of their Fulbright scholarships.

    What a ridiculous argument. It's proper to scrutinise journalists in this context (ideally by doing some work, finding what what the scheme is, what they did, what they wrote, etc) but the idea that any recipient of an exchange grant or scholarship has the blood of an entire host nation's foreign policy on their hands is insane.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I'm not sure if any of us could endure the 7 years he claims this may take to resolve.

    Except, as the Guardian reported, the same Swedish law that allows suspects to be placed in custody allows obliges the system to deal with the matter with great dispatch -- like, two weeks.

    Again, best not treat everything Assange's lawyers say as the whole truth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Such as?

    we're not going to agree I think. I'll try and come up with some specifics after dinner.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Can I just point out that it's entirely possible that the accusations against him are in fact false and vexatious?

    Grrr... OK, can I point out that it's entirely possible the next-door-but-three neighbours whose house was burgled over the weekend are in fact engaged in an elaborate insurance scam? Insurance fraud does happen, you know. It's a multi-billion dollar fact.

    YMMV, Gio, but I make a habit of not dog-whistling that victims of property crime are to be presumed liars with a malicious agenda until proven otherwise.Would be nice if the women who've laid much more serious complaints were extended the same courtesy. ETA: You haven't directly engaged in slut-shaming and smearing the complainants, Gio, but plenty of others have -- including Assange's own lawyers.

    But since you've gone down this line of reasoning, its also entirely possible that the allegations are not only true but the tip of a very nasty iceberg of sexual offending by Assange. I guess we're never going to know, because shit like this is a pretty clear STFU to any other woman Assange might have assaulted.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    There was a substantial peaceful change in the direction of US politics.

    I'm not sure that the families in Waziristan who have suffered a substantial uptick in missiles falling into their villages since the end of 2008, nor the people of West Papua who have now found that the Indonesian special forces facing them are trained and armed by the US after the Bush-era block on this was lifted would really be with you on that one, Neil.

    An allegation as preposterous as it is self-serving.

    I don't for a moment buy into the story and I find the smears and outing of these women appalling, but you would have to remove the events of the last decade and the attempt to poison Castro's beard amongst other things from the historic record before I would buy 'preposterous'.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I'd be amazed if he's extradited from Sweden to the USA. If Dubya was still around, maybe. That's a change in direction, right there, btw, Gio.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    YMMV, Gio, but I make a habit of not dog-whistling that victims of property crime are to be presumed liars with a malicious agenda until proven otherwise. Would be nice if the women who've laid much more serious complaints were extended the same courtesy.

    Why are we even bothering with a trial then? Can't we just move to sentencing?

    That's a change in direction, right there, btw, Gio.

    Yes, you're totally right, as we can see evidenced by the ravings of the attorney general that Obama has chosen.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    There are more or less the same ethical issues that there are in exploiting your position as the leader of a band that rocks as much as The Rolling Stones to get sex on tap. Seriously.

    It's a damn shame all that stuff about various other people's sexual exploits turned up in the first 0.01% of the Cablegate documents to be released, then.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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