Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Wikileaks: The Cable Guys

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  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Brent Edwards on RNZ said Australia may suspend Assange's passport.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Although it does appear that the Australian government is fixin’ to do something with Assange.

    That may be the case. I certainly don’t want to be an apologist for the filter or the Australian government in general. And it wasn’t just you tweeting that, it came from all over the place. I read the linked article too and in the context of this leak it seemed plausible that it was related. You really had to look at the date to realise it wasn’t relevant.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Sam Vilain,

    In the interests of full disclosure, I did read The Millennium trilogy recently ...

    San Francisco (was Wellin… • Since Jun 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Sam Vilain,

    It does have that feel about it, doesn't it? Maybe it's just all those Swedish lawyers' names and the different prosecutorial system.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Ever been to a magic show? Which hand do you watch? The one the magician wants you to.

    In a forum where we urge each other to read what a person said, rather than respond based on what you might think of the person, it seems odd to see people questioning Wikileaks because they aren’t completely comfortable with what they hear about Julian Assange. The guy may be a total creep but the point is that he did not write the stuff that appears on the Wikileaks site – people in governments and corporations did, and they don’t want other people to see it. You’re making the equivalent error of dismissing 3News because Ian Wishart used to be a reporter for it. (There are plenty of other reasons for dissing 3News, but that’s not a valid one)

    I’ve never met Assange so I don’t know what sort of person he is. I have encountered many of the people (and sorts of people) who want to demonize him as a terrorist. Them, I seriously don’t trust. So I read what Wikileaks publishes, compare and contrast it to what I know from other sources and make my judgement on the material, not the publisher.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Hardly surprising to see most in here have taken up the shooting the messenger distraction which the US government has been crafting about the same time as Assange was pulled up on BS sex charges.

    *sigh* So, I guess we should have sceptical examination of the way media folks treat others and whether they practice the standards they loudly preach to others for Rupert Murdoch.

    And I guess, James, we shouldn't be asking any questions about the well-timed "distraction" where abusers (and their enablers) assassinate the characters of their victims to shift attention from their own douche-baggery. That's never happened before...

    @nzlemming: I don't give a fuck if Assange is a walking turd. The history of the media is full of great people who have the people skills of Atilla The Hun with a migraine. But for someone who likes to preach transparency and openess, he sure has a very thin skin when it comes to facing scrutiny himself.

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

  • nzlemming, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    He "preaches" openness of governments and corporations. Wikileaks has redacted names where individuals might be at risk. They even asked the USG to help them redact, but the USG declined to engage. Really not sure what your actual fucking point is, Craig. Is this "Be a contrary twatcock week" and I missed the memo?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Sam Vilain,

    The interview between Assange and Al Jazeera in August seems to be where the “smear campaign” quote comes from. If you listen to the interview, first the interviewer uses the term, then Assange uses it, then later apparently unaware he used it he said it wasn’t necessarily a smear campaign, only to use the term again in the next sentence. Listen from about 1:25 and from about 3:07

    I guess there is an obvious, natural explanation to what the "new information" might be, especially given even the lawyer's statement about what did occur. I've got no idea what the precedent would be in such situations but it wouldn't surprise me if that alone would be enough to force a jury trial.

    San Francisco (was Wellin… • Since Jun 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    ...to force a jury trial

    Yes, but just to nitpick; there would be no jury trial as Sweden (like most of Europe) uses the Civil law legal system with an inquisitorial court.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You’re making the equivalent error of dismissing 3News because Ian Wishart used to be a reporter for it. (There are plenty of other reasons for dissing 3News, but that’s not a valid one)

    I think a better comparison might be questioning 3 News because Ian Wishart is choosing the stories.

    But I'm sure we'll all agree any comparison with Wishart is not really appropriate. Whatever Assange is, he's not that.

    Yet it's not unreasonable to scrutinise him personally, especially given the way he has been criticised by people who've actually worked with and supported him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Elsewhere, the comic stylings of Sarah Palin are the early Christmas present you can't return for store credit:

    "The latest round of publications of leaked classified US documents ... raises serious questions about the Obama administration's incompetent handling of this whole fiasco," Palin wrote.

    "First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months?

    "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?"

    Stick to getting you fan club to try rigging the vote on Dancing with the Stars, Sarah, the grown-ups are talking.

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

  • Russell Brown,

    The Guardian has a useful update on Assange's legal issues:

    Assange contests this too. But if he declines to return to Sweden voluntarily, and the UK decides to enforce Sweden's arrest warrant, things may get tricky. Some friends believe Assange's best strategy is not to go to ground but to get on a plane to Sweden and face down his accusers.

    Stephens, moreover, says that the Swedish attempts to extradite Assange have no legal force. So far he has not been charged, Stephens says – an essential precondition for a valid European arrest warrant.

    Under the EAW scheme, which allows for fast-tracked extradition between EU member states, a warrant must indicate a formal charge in order to be validated, and must be served on the person accused.

    "Julian Assange has never been charged by Swedish prosecutors. He is formally wanted as a witness," Stephens told the Guardian today.

    "All we have is an English translation of what's being reported in the media. The Swedish authorities have not met their obligations under domestic and European law to communicate the nature of the allegations against him in a language that he understands, and the evidence against him."

    Assange's legal team are challenging the warrant in Sweden's supreme court. They are optimistic: a previous appeal was partially successful in limiting the grounds on which the warrant was issued.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah, in reply to nzlemming,

    Assange "preaches" openness of organisations and their leaders. The reason they don't do document dumps on Al Qaeda isn't that Al Qaeda isn't a government or corporation, it's that they don't have a source, as Assange has said. I don't think they redact names of political and military leaders (and nor should they) when those leaders could potentially be accused of crimes or (certainly) have their public standing fall as a result.

    If Assange is truly serious about openness, he should be more careful about driving competent people out of wikileaks. They might be needed if he gets got.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I doubt that Al Q actually produces much of a volume of documentation. Then again, as a largely imaginary body, maybe they have caves full of imaginary analysts cranking out reports. Might explain the lack of actual terrorism.

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

  • nzlemming, in reply to Tim Hannah,

    Fair point. However:

    If Assange is truly serious about openness, he should be more careful about driving competent people out of wikileaks. They might be needed if he gets got.

    At this point we have a number of (largely) anonymous sources doing a "he said, she said" and in foreign languages (to me) to boot. It's hard to know exactly what is going on in what passes for the Wikileaks organisation and whether the people we are told are leaving are a) actually competent, b) actually leaving or c) ever existed. No matter, to me at least. No-one, not even the US, is disputing that the cables are genuine, or that the Afghanistan release was genuine, or that etc. etc..

    That's the meat worth discussing. The rest is distraction (and, I believe, deliberate distraction).

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But I’m sure we’ll all agree any comparison with Wishart is not really appropriate. Whatever Assange is, he’s not that.

    I’m glad we can agree on something ;-)

    [oops – moved this bit to the “New PAS” thread]

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Yet it's not unreasonable to scrutinise him personally

    I'm pretty disappointed that you seem to think "Julian may be a mean man" is the most interesting thing in all of this, Russell.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Yet it’s not unreasonable to scrutinise him personally, especially given the way he has been criticised by people who’ve actually worked with and supported him.

    Okay, so we should judge all of PublicAddress – writers, Cactus guys, commenters, etcetera, – on the basis or your personal history? Or should we judge it on the basis of what is said or communicated?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I’m pretty disappointed that you seem to think “Julian may be a mean man” is the most interesting thing in all of this, Russell.

    I don't believe I said anything of the kind, actually.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, so we should judge all of PublicAddress – writers, Cactus guys, commenters, etcetera, – on the basis or your personal history? Or should we judge it on the basis of what is said or communicated?

    But "what is said or communicated" does appear to be influenced by Assange's character, according to his erstwhile colleagues.

    There's also no transparency on how much money Wikileaks takes in, where it comes from and how it's spent. Obviously, confidentiality has to apply to some (fairly considerable) degree or the whole project founders, but it's not irrelevant.

    And as I said when this theme kicked off, a man who makes such large moral claims, and appeals to the rule of law, does invite some moral scrutiny.

    But no, Assange's foibles are not the most interesting thing about this week. The content of the cables is, obviously, followed by the question as to how public servants can give advice -- and that's what most of the cables are, advice -- if it can never be given in confidence.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    Let me step into the ring with my argumentation theory hat on; not all ad hominem arguments/attacks are fallacious. A legitimate/non-fallacious form of the argumentum ad hominem relates to the act of testifying.

    Assange is engaging in a kind of testifying; he is releasing data to the world. When people are engaged in such testimonial acts, we can ask whether their character in any way reflects upon that act (for example, is the witness reliable, or does the witness have an agenda that perverts the transmission of the testimony).

    This is an important check and balance for testimony; without it there would be a lot of what some epistemologists call "pathological testimony:" testimony that is unreliable because whilst the propositions being asserted are true, the people who are transmitting said propositions are untrustworthy and thus we would have no good reason to believe what they assert.

    None of this says that Assange is acting duplicitiously, et cetera, but we have to maintain a certain standard when it comes to assessing testimony and thus asking questions about Assange's character as it relates to his acts of testimony is something we must do if we are to trust him and, by extension, the things he is asserting.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I think it's interesting that people say `is [he] a mean man'; the actual question is `is he a sexual offender', a rather more serious matter.

    Likewise, it isn't true that this is his private life, any more than Garrett's convictions were his private life. Who Assange is having consensual sex with isn't a matter of public interest; but if he's engaging in sexual assault, I really think that is.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Sorry guys, no time or indeed head space to read the thread - but I must pass on this wonderful close reading of Assange's theoretical approach by the always excellent Aaron Bady. HORansome will find it especially interesting I imagine, but really it's for everyone.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    the fact that North Korea is not a credible threat to anyone except South Korea rather hides the extremity of the threat that they do pose to South Korea.

    Well, they did also test-fire a rocket over Japan recently, if I recall correctly.
    And, if it's possible to leave aside the potential for thousands of S Korean dead, it's not as if S Korea, or Japan for that matter, are insignificant players in global economy.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to HORansome,

    Is he actually asserting anything, though? He’s not offering commentary on the cables, though it can be argued that the release schedule is a form of meta-commentary. He’s not saying "America is so bad! They did this!” – he’s letting America’s words speak for themselves.

    Whether or not he is guilty of any crime has not been proven, only alleged. If HORansome is alleged to be a forger or wifebeater, does that invalidate all you’ve said and/or done?

    As for the Swedish allegations, initially they were dropped within hours in August:

    The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said chief prosecutor Eva Finne had come to the decision that Julian Assange was not subject to arrest.

    In a brief statement Eva Finne said: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

    10 days later, a different prosecutor reopened the case:

    In an interview with AFP, [Marrianne] Ny, the head of the department that oversees prosecution of sex crimes, explained that “I requested his arrest so we could carry out an interrogation with Assange. That is the reason."

    So, his arrest is not sought to stand trial, but only to be interrogated. His lawyer has said he has made himself available, but not in Sweden. Ny denies any knowledge of such offers – back to “he said, she said”.

    I can fully understand his reluctance to return to Sweden, especially if he’ll be in custody. Voluntarily disappearing is one thing; being “disappeared” from jail by rendition to -let’s just say “another place”, is something no-one would take on if they had a brain. And no-one doubts he has a brain, I think.

    With my own tinfoil hat on, it seems to me that there might have been some “prosecutor shopping” going on, which brings us back to a possible campaign against Assange. Oh, did I say possible? Some American lawmakers want him branded a terrorist, the Australian Government is going over him with a fine tooth comb, etc. I think we can all see there is definitely a campaign going on.

    BTW Assange has appealed the detention order to the Supreme Court in Sweden

    Some links:
    Wikipedia
    Washington Times
    Freshhorse – interesting analysis and timeline
    Skandinavians in Florida – interesting questions and comments

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

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