Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Watching the Watchmen

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  • Russell Brown,

    Local blogger/tweeter/consultant Courtney Lambert interviewed one of the players in the saga, Adrian Lamo.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Aftergood and other critics are routinely accused of being in the pay of the Pentagon. In their readiness for the fray, their certainty, their willingness to allege an agenda, some of the keenest fans remind me of any other sort of conspiracist.

    So, how long is it going to be before the unbelievers find their tax returns on Wikileaks? And will there be any accountability whatsoever?

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

  • Russell Brown,

    So, how long is it going to be before the unbelievers find their tax returns on Wikileaks? And will there be any accountability whatsoever?

    Hopefully never. But Assange -- so composed and precise on camera -- sometimes doesn't set a great example when he posts his blog comments.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Mordaunt,

    You would think that Colbert would be supportive of the release, given his long-running satire around Truthines and Wikiality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    The most surreal aspect of this story for me has been to see the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff accusing someone of having blood on their hands. Truly a topsy turvy world.

    Some will see this wariness of Wikileaks ... as mere professional jealousy

    Seems to me that many are simply pissed off at Wikileaks for opening up information to the peasants. How can they be part of the chattering classes if they don't have a monopoly on information?

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    It's a bit of a worry when you've got a WaPo editorial calling Wikileaks a "clear and present danger to the national security of the United States." In the parlance of our times, that usually means some kind of extra-legal spook death squad.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Seems to me that many are simply pissed off at Wikileaks for opening up information to the peasants. How can they be part of the chattering classes if they don't have a monopoly on information?

    But does publishing people's tax records - for no obvious reason - really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dicks"? Does having every piece of information in the world available to everyone necessarily makes it a better place? I tend to think not.

    Moreover, if you're going to advocate full openness, then it's generally a good idea to practice it. That's not what seems to be happening.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Johnson,

    But does publishing people's tax records - for no obvious reason - really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dicks"?

    Or, if you are an Afghani who has helped the US Army, does having your name published on Wikileaks really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dead meat"?

    Wellington • Since Oct 2007 • 98 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    My understanding is that the Washington Post story was an opinion piece from a man who was President Bush's chief speechwriter, so shouldn't necessarily be seen as the paper's stance on the matter.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Or, if you are an Afghani who has helped the US Army, does having your name published on Wikileaks really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dead meat"?

    That could happen, but US military action actually has led to the deaths of something like 10-30,000 civilians in Afghanistan and God knows how many hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq in the last decade, and much more devastation and misery, not to mention confirmed coverups of same (and, very likely, a culture of coverups).

    We have all been and remain "good Germans" about that, so questioning the potential deaths caused by Wikileaks' recent document dump strikes me as a comparative triviality.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    But does publishing people's tax records - for no obvious reason - really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dicks"?

    Publishing the tax returns of a rich tax evader is being a dick?

    Or, if you are an Afghani who has helped the US Army, does having your name published on Wikileaks really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dead meat"?

    Can't say I have much sympathy for informants who help imperial invaders but in any case where did you get this idea from? It's a Pentagon soundbite to distract you from the thousands perishing as a result of this stupid war. They want you to chatter about the hypothetical deaths of their informants rather than the thousands of people they're actually killing in secret.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Or, if you are an Afghani who has helped the US Army, does having your name published on Wikileaks really constitute "opening up information" as opposed to "being dead meat"?

    Not to be an annoying pedant here -- this is a genuine question -- but is 'Afghani' really the word for someone from Afghanistan?

    I've seen it recently on the Stuff website (and elsewhere, I'm sure), but I'd always thought it was 'Afghan'. As far as I know, the afghani is a unit of currency.

    Or has the terminology somehow changed since the publication of my big book (with nice-smelling leather cover) on the history of Afghanistan?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    David Haywood - yup. Refers to anything/one originating from Afghanistan.
    An afghan is a biscuit.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Not to be an annoying pedant here -- this is a genuine question -- but is 'Afghani' really the word for someone from Afghanistan?

    I thought that certain collective nouns could take an -i, such as Talibani. I don't speak Pashto or Farsi/Parsi/Persian, so this is just what seems to be true. I hear Afghani and Talibani frequently enough.

    Afghan is certainly the conventional English language formation.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    As far as I know, the afghani is a unit of currency.

    Yep. 'Afghani' also = 'from Afghanistan', like 'Scottish' = 'from Scotland'.

    Slightly confusing, I suppose, when the Afghani prime minister is an Afghan (though not really, since the English prime minister is an Englishman).

    (ETA: at least, that's how I understand it).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Really George? I am always willing to learn-

    and what did your Mum call those little crunchy choclatey baked things?

    (There may be a generational disconjunct here-)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Can't say I have much sympathy for informants who help imperial invaders

    You don't have to, Christiaan, but London's rather unhallowed ground for that kind of moral callousness. Plenty of people out there who would regard any Londoner shredded by a car bomb as asking for everything they get by living in the heart of an "imperial" power.

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

  • BenWilson,

    It's not called the fog of war for nothing. I see that fog itself as one of the main reasons not to go to war.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Really George? I am always willing to learn-

    and what did your Mum call those little crunchy choclatey baked things?

    (There may be a generational disconjunct here-)

    I don't know if the usage I've heard is "correct", or correlates to standard use in any language. It may simply be a badly rendered form of English that's become common.

    Mmmm, I'm thinking about afghans now. Delicious.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    George- with walnuts on top?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Wikileaks covers the spectrum from transparency to voyeurism. Of course in Sweden everyones taxes are public.

    Like MPs expenses/sexual activities, I don't want to know, but corruption I want it dealt with.



    Potential evidence of war crimes, or at least depictions of the hell of war. This is a horrible truth, and has a value to the world.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I think there's something in the criticism that the Taliban's records (they don't exist, of course) of atrocities are not being made public, as are those of other countries. There's a particular bias, in part towards the US, because it is more 'newsworthy', and towards languages which Wikileaks have capabilities in (English, French etc.) I think they're linguistically challenged and unable to evaluate much of their content.

    This is slightly, if not entirely excusable. But there are problems and caveats to this excusability. As someone commented to me on Twitter today:

    Wikileaks does NOT leak everything they receive. They edit, frame, narrate. Should drop the superiority complex.

    On the whole however, I'd much rather that institutions like this exist than don't. The enemy of a good society is unrestrained power, and transparency and accountability are some of the strongest constraints on it.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Islander, definitely walnuts. And dark rich chocolate and cornflakes inside.

    PAS, every thread is a food thread. I love this place.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    You don't have to, Christiaan, but London's rather unhallowed ground for that kind of moral callousness. Plenty of people out there who would regard any Londoner shredded by a car bomb as asking for everything they get by living in the heart of an "imperial" power.

    And I'm hardly surprised someone from the North Shore of Auckland thinks it's moral callousness to oppose imperial folly and its informants. Perhaps you'd have a different view if it was your fellow kiwi informing on you while foreign invaders killed your family?

    And indeed, not only do I live in London but I pay taxes. I have friends who have the courage to live here and refuse to pay taxes. Courage I don't have. I certainly don't expect sympathy from the victims of British aggression and I could certainly be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    dark rich chocolate and cornflakes inside.

    Right -- with Bob-the-baby asleep I've summoned the energy to check the OED:

    Afghan = a person from Afghanistan

    afghan = a woollen blanket or shawl (and, presumably, also a biscuit in NZ)

    afghani = a monetary unit equal to 100 puls

    It seems the capital letter is the distinguishing feature that tells you what's happening when you read about an Afghan eating an afghan.

    (And thus you should always say in a café: "I'll have an afghan with a small initial 'a', please.")

    Webster's also gives the same definitions, so it doesn't appear to be a US/British spelling difference. Perhaps this is unique to NZ as a result of our biscuits? I shall have to consult some linguists that I know.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

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