Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Wikileaks: The Cable Guys

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  • Idiot Savant,

    Unfortunately the Guardian doesn't have any cables from NZ.

    There's a zip archive of the Guardian's header spreadsheet here (4MB, extracts to 26MB csv). From my initial searches, NZ traffic seems to be mostly about Afghanistan, Iran, and trade controls (selling the skyhawks). But without the cables themselves, we don't know how interesting they might be.

    BTW, I'm currently trying to relearn enough perl to extract the NZ records. It would be nice if someone beat me to it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Would we hamstring our own government by making public every word that diplomats shared about another state?

    Certainly not – and it takes no imagination to picture situations where genuinely free and frank assessments of personalities and situations really matter. It would be a rather perverse outcome if all Wikileaks really accomplished is make sure foreign affairs are conducted in such a thick euphemistic fog nobody really knows nothing.

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

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Unfortunately, Guardian, Der Spiegel, NYT, El Pais and Le Monde have exclusives on the actual content of the cables, so not much of it is available to look at. :\

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    And, not least, why is Wikileaks still declining to publish the secrets it has obtained from within governments who do not happen to be the United States of America?

    This is one of the things that bugs me. WikiLeaks was doing sterling work publishing secrets from around the world. And now all of that has stopped because of their vendetta with the US.

    I like seeing the US's dirty laundry. But I like seeing information about corrupt european banks, dodgy australian censorship, and filthy multinational oil-traders as well.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    This is one of the things that bugs me. WikiLeaks was doing sterling work publishing secrets from around the world. And now all of that has stopped because of their vendetta with the US.

    Perhaps someone should start Wikileaking Assange's e-mails and phone traffic? You know, sauce for the cyber-goose is sauce for the speaking truth to power gander -- what's YOUR agenda, Julie?

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

  • Russell Brown,

    I like seeing the US’s dirty laundry. But I like seeing information about corrupt european banks, dodgy australian censorship, and filthy multinational oil-traders as well.

    It would seem some of the nastier dirt involves the Russian and other non-Western governments.

    And the Wired story in September really cast an unflattering light on Assange:

    Domscheit-Berg learned about Assange’s agreements with a number of media outlets last month, but did not know the details or when the documents were scheduled to be released. When he quizzed Assange in an online chat, Assange responded by accusing Domscheit-Berg of leaking information about discontent within WikiLeaks to a columnist for Newsweek.

    A purported transcript of the chat provided to Wired.com by a WikiLeaks insider shows the conversation grew heated.

    “You are not anyone’s king or god,” wrote Domscheit-Berg in the chat. “And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

    “You are suspended for one month, effective immediately,” Assange shot back. “If you wish to appeal, you will be heard on Tuesday.”

    The German wasn’t the only one to be purged. I do find it unnerving that someone with so much power is apparently so capricious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe the concept is that non-criminal governments *are* entitled to secrecy, but the US is criminal and has lost that protection.

    In a world where anyone with a memory stick can copy information that would formerly have required the removal of cumbersome physical files, the only way a government, be it the US, NZ or other states, can keep its secrets is if those with the access actually agree with the government. Obviously the vast US military-security complex is such that they can never have that confidence.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Maybe the concept is that non-criminal governments *are* entitled to secrecy, but the US is criminal and has lost that protection.

    I'm sure Messers Hoover, McCarthy and their illiberal spawn would heartily agree -- the Constitution only applies to those you deem worthy of it, right? Ditto for civil rights and sheer common decency.

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

  • Russell Brown,

    Maybe the concept is that non-criminal governments *are* entitled to secrecy, but the US is criminal and has lost that protection.

    Again, who decides? One of the sources of internal dissent at Wikileaks is the withholding of Russian government documents relating to Chechnya. I suspect we'd find from those that Russia has behaved in a highly criminal fashion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I suspect we'd find from those that Russia has behaved in a highly criminal fashion.

    I suspect we'd also find they're not safe to release. The US may be the Evil Overlord with poor fashion sense, but they can't get away with just murdering leakers. Whereas it happens on a monthly basis in Russia.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I suspect we’d find from those that Russia has behaved in a highly criminal fashion.

    And for all the Teabag-iban hysterics, I'd love to see how long the likes of Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh would last in Moscow. Then again, it doesn't look like Prime Minister Putin has anything to worry about after all.

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

  • Russell Brown,

    An interesting exchange of letters between Assange and the US State Department.

    So we do get a little Wikileaks correspondence ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    I was having a ponder this morning, whether or not some of the wiki leak information is being fed through from the intelligence agencies in these non western governments? A sort of information smokescreen.

    So rather than trying invade or destabilize the western governments with serious spying; they are just leaking the truth to rock the boat.

    This may seem a little far fetched, but it would fit a with things like the attacks on the Iranian infrastructure computer systems.

    Anyhow just a little bit of Monday morning conspiracy theory

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    There are definitely people out there who believe governments should have no secrets. A former co-worker was firmly of the opinion that even things such as terrorism response plans should be public record.

    One big problem the US has is that it has demonstrably misused classification in order to avoid releasing politically-embarrassing documents generated within the walls of power. That makes people distrust, generally, the government's application of classification to information. Toss in a population of people vetted to "Top Secret" which is nearly as large as Auckland and you've got a recipe for classified material to be leaked, especially when nobody's quite certain how many people actually do have clearances at any given level.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Daniel Wilton,

    The US (I think CIA) got snapped stating publicly that, rather than trying to take WL down through legal means it might be better to discredit it by posting false material. One cannot help but wonder if some of what's going up is the fruition of that plan. WL is certainly losing its credibility in a lot of circles with a) the exposure of Assange's true personality, and b) the vendetta with the US.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    OK, could someone explain to me the public interest in this:

    One cable reveals how the London embassy passed on intelligence about a British Labour minister, apparently picked up from civil servant contacts, saying he “reportedly remains a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned”.

    The minister, whose name the Guardian is withholding, was “forced to apologize …to a female…who accused him of sexual harassment…. and has had marital troubles in the last few years”.

    The confidential dispatch continued: “Contacts who know him well report he has manic depressive tendencies – ‘he’s very up one minute, very down the next’, and at least one…colleague has described xxx as a “‘bully’"

    That’s not exposing war crimes and human rights abuses, but tabloid gossip released under a thick pall of media sanctimony. Now to be fair, diplomacy may well be gossip with better table manners but I don't really see the public interest argument here in releasing the cable.

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

  • Russell Brown,

    The US (I think CIA) got snapped stating publicly that, rather than trying to take WL down through legal means it might be better to discredit it by posting false material. One cannot help but wonder if some of what's going up is the fruition of that plan.

    John Young of Cryptome, who dissociated himself from Assange in a very emphatic and public way by releasing listserv emails has been quite frank about the possibility that the emails he has been receiving from Wikileaks "insiders" are of this nature.

    They may well be that. Or they may be an accurate characterisation of disturbing behaviour by Assange. We don't know, because it's ... secret.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    Wikileaks got off to a bad start with (some) others in the access to information community when it threatened those who did something other than praise its actions.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    I suspect we’d also find they’re not safe to release. The US may be the Evil Overlord with poor fashion sense, but they can’t get away with just murdering leakers. Whereas it happens on a monthly basis in Russia.

    I'd be surprised if the release of classified information would put anyone else in Russia in danger that wasn't already. It's the people with access to classified material who arrange the political killings anyway, so there shouldn't be anything new for them.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It's most interesting to see just how powerless the diplomats from many countries feel against the likelihood of Iranian nuclear weapons. It's no surprise that a military strike is seen as unlikely to work, but interesting to hear it said by the very people calling for those strikes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wikileaks got off to a bad start with (some) others in the access to information community when it threatened those who did something other than praise its actions.

    Quite ...

    “We are very disappointed in your lack of support and suggest you cool it. If you don’t, we will, with great reluctance, be forced to respond.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It’s no surprise that a military strike is seen as unlikely to work, but interesting to hear it said by the very people calling for those strikes.

    Yes -- I found that really interesting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, the Australian government gets scary:

    Australian Government adds Wikileaks to banned website list

    The Australian communications regulator has issued a stark warning that websites who link out to 'banned' hyperlinks are liable to fines of up to Aus $11,000 a day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'll tell you what's scary about Australia: at KiwiCon over the weekend, we got advised by an Aussie speaker that they don't have double jeopardy. Now that is scary. After hearing that, nothing that they might do to trample on free expression is in the least bit surprising!

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Er, namesake? Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh would probably make friends quickly with the post-communist nomenklatura and advertise them as the offspring of a laudable transition to neoliberal orthodoxy. Large amounts of dosh good, public sector bad?

    Craig Y

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

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