As the power elite continue to struggle to re-gain control of an increasingly rabid populace, we will continue to see all manner of bizarre suggestions. From Senator Conroy’s “Filter The Internet” initiative here in Australia to this one from New York:
Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning. Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.
The bill’s backers, according to the mag, want to curtail “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”
The legislation would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”
Personally I’ve always been more than happy to attach my name to my online opinions (which is why my ID is always “cameronreilly”), but I can fully understand why some people would like to be more cautious – people like Bradley Manning, etc. In this current era of “Kill The Whistleblower”, we need to provide anonymous avenues for concerned citizens to leak what they know about the workings of the power elite. And, of course, it stands to reason that the elite will want to destroy those avenues as much as they can.
Personally I don’t think they are going to succeed. For every website they shut down, for every piece of pseudo-fascist legislation they erect, there will be one hundred tools and channels invented by people like Assange that route around the control mechanisms.
Show notes for this episode:
Yesterday I received this letter from the Attorney-General’s office. It was sent to my work address. It says “Thank you for your recent correspondence…” but I never sent them any correspondence. The only thing I can think of that might have spawned this mealy-mouthed reply was a tweet I sent to Julia Gillard a week or two ago, admonishing her for her pathetic lack of support for Julian Assange – an Australian citizen who is being harassed by several governments of the world although he has not been charged with any crime. And the Federal Government sends me a LETTER to my WORK as a response??
This raises a couple of interesting thoughts.
1. They are listening.
2. They know where I work.
3. Instead of tweeting a reply, the went to the trouble to send a long, nonsense letter.
I assume this is a form letter and that many of you have received one just like it?
PDF Doc: AG Dept 1
As for the content of the letter, I take issue with quite a few of Annette’s statements.
“… the large scale distribution of …. classified United States Government documents is reckless, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”
But not illegal.
“Being informed of government related matters does not entail an automatic right to every document within the government’s possession.”
Who is talking about automatic rights? This seems like an attempt to spin the argument away from Assange and Wikileaks. Nobody has argued that anyone has automatic rights to government documents. An American whistleblower handed the documents to Wikileaks who, in turn, has published some of them. What’s that got to do with automatic rights? Either Wikileaks’ actions were illegal or not. If they were, why hasn’t Assange been charged by the USA? If not, then the Australian government should say so and speak out in his support.
“Certain information must remain confidential in order for governments to carry out their role of protecting the national interest.”
How do we know the government *is* protecting the ‘national interest’ (whatever that is?!?) if they keep what they are doing a secret? Are we supposed to trust them implicitly? That doesn’t sound like democracy to me.
“… a commitment to strengthen laws to protect whistleblowers.”
What commitments are those? In March 2010, the government intended to ‘introduce legislation implementing the Government’s response (to the report “Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector”) this year’ (i.e. 2010).
But did it happen? I don’t think so. I’ve been searching for any more news on it but haven’t found any.
But anyway, this isn’t about Australian laws to protect whistleblowers. This isn’t about automatic rights. This is about the Gillard government supporting an Australian citizen who, whether they agree with his work or not, has become a very high profile character on the international geopolitical stage and who has been threatened by a range of high profile American politicians and influential media personalities. As yet he hasn’t been charged with a crime and the Australian Federal Police have advised that Assange has broken no Australian laws.
So why isn’t he getting at least verbal support from the Gillard government? Is it because she is, as the diplomatic cables suggest, in bed with the US government?
Last night Chrissy & I chatted for an hour about Wikileaks. We point out the mistakes a lot of people on Twitter (mostly Americans) are making when it comes to Wikileaks. We talk about the major stories that Wikileaks have broken with Cablegate, as well as the truth behind the Assange “rape” allegations. Chrissy also talks about how her perspective of US politics has changed in the 18 months she’s been living in Australia.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to express my disgust at your government’s treatment of an honourable Australian citizen, namely, Julian Assange.
Here is a man who represents the embodiment of what we consider the Australian ethos – a “fair go” for everyone. By exposing the lies, deceit and hypocrisy of United States’ diplomats and elected officials, he is helping bring about a more honest and transparent geo-political landscape.
Your lack of political, legal and moral support for Assange and your Howardesque pandering to the United States will be the downfall of your political career and your historical legacy. It’s such a shame to see Australia’s first female Prime Minister, an atheist no less, turn out to be as reprehensible and reprobate as the former Howard government.
It further reduces my trust in Australian politicians.
Everton Park, QLD.
You can email the PM here.
This is a quick guide to the most recent Wikileaks news, for those people who can’t be bothered reading it in detail. I’ve discovered lately that a few friends I respect – intelligent, well-meaning people – have managed to extract the totally wrong idea about what’s going on from the deliberately spin that most of the mainstream media is indulging in.
So here’s what you need to know:
1. Cablegate: 250,000 US Embassy Diplomatic Cables – On Sunday 28th November 2010, Wikileaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables.
2. A number of major news outlets, including The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel, have been running in depth coverage of the cables. Every media outlet in the world is covering the news in some form, but most aren’t delving into detailed analysis, content just to smear Wikileaks and founder Julian Assange and mention a couple of the less important cables.
3. Despite most of the media’s focus on a minority of cables that highlight snarky comments made about politicians and diplomats, the cables of MAJOR importance show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
4. Despite the media’s incessant coverage of the “rape” charges that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is facing in Sweden, the facts of the case are rarely mentioned. As far as I can gather, they seem to be that Assange had *consensual* sex with two female volunteers during his visit to Sweden in the middle of the year. However both women have since alleged that, although the sex *was* consensual, in both cases there were “condom malfunctions” – situations where the condom either broke or there wasn’t a condom present, they asked Assange to stop, and he didn’t. One of the women behind the charges gave an interview to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet in August. She stated that she was surprised to learn that the accusations were treated as a rape charge and denied that there had been any encounter with Assange involving violence or force. She suggested that the controversy had to do with Assange’s failure to use a condom during intercourse. This is the basis of the rape or “unwanted sexual conduct” charges. This is the basis of the “red notice” issued by Interpol. When was the last time Interpol issued a “red notice” for someone over a case of consensual sex? Update 02122010: According to this post about one of the accusers, Anna Ardin, she was tweeting positively about Assange for a few days after the alleged incident. Read a cached copy of her since-deleted tweets here. James Catlin has more on the story of the accusers in Crikey.
5. Of course, even if the charges of rape *are* justified, Assange’s personal life has nothing at all to do with the content of the diplomatic cables or Wikileaks’ mission. They are merely a tool the media is using to try to distract the public from the content of the leaked cables.
6. Various American and international figures are calling for the shutting down of the Wikileaks site and/or Assange’s arrest and/or assassination as well as the assassination of whoever released the cables to Wikileaks (assumed to be Bradley Manning but we don’t know for sure).
7. Of course, these same authorities aren’t calling for the shutting down of The Guardian, Der Spiegel or the New York Times’ papers and sites, or the arrest or assassination of their management. How are Wikileaks’ actions different from those of the major media outlets? Wikileaks received the cables (from sources unknown) and published them. The media outlets received them (from Wikileaks) and published them. Why the double standard?
8. The rumour is that Wikileaks is about to release some damaging information to do with the Bank Of America. Once corporations start getting attacked directly by Wikileaks, you can expect the establishment to come after him even harder than they are at the moment. Bank of America Corp experienced a 3 per cent fall on Tuesday.
Quite a few people – who obviously are too lazy to actually read beyond the headlines – seem to be under the opinion that the only thing the diplomatic cables have exposed is some embarrassing snippets about diplomats. Below is a list of some of the most incriminating cables released so far.
Saudi Govt controls the media to prevent dissident ideas and criticism of the royal family or SAG policy. (Where’s all the criticism of the Saudi govt then in the US media, the same as Cuba or Venezuela attracts for censoring the media?)
How many news orgs, in their coverage of the rape allegations against Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, mention the whole story, i.e that both the Prosecution and the Defense claims that the sex was consensual but then “condom mishaps” occurred (as explained in this Wired article)? I think this little fact is very important to how people read the story – but how many news orgs are bothering to include it? And how many reference the fact that Assange’s lawyers they have been asking for, but haven’t received, details of the claims?
News.com.au – no mention.
Press TV – no mention.
NY Daily News – condom mishap mentioned.
CNN – no mention.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation – no mention.
The Telegraph – no mention.
LA Times – no mention.
Bloomberg – no mention.
Wall Street Journal – no mention.
Sydney Morning Herald – no mention.
Australia’s most impressive media entrepreneur, Julian Assange, explains how Wikileaks works and provides some insight into recent events, in this recent interview with Wired’s Chris Anderson at TED.
Assange is trying to use the internet to change the world. He is what Peter Ellyard would call a “Future Maker”. I’m constantly motived and inspired by Julian’s quietly bold approach to tackle world governments and corporations. He’s spot on in this interview when he says a good approach to figuring out what the most important news is, is to discover what corporations and governments are spending a lot of effort and money to keep secret.
Recently I’ve been reading ridiculous suggestions that Wikileaks is a “honey trap” for whistleblowers. The idea seems to be that Wikileaks gets potential whistleblowers to come forward, and then they are arrested, Manning’s recent arrest is taken as being a sign that something is rotten in Denmark. The only problem with this scenario is that stuff is being leaked. It would be seem a bit of a stretch to think the establishment are allowing their dirty laundry to get exposed in an effort to create a temptation for potential whistleblowers to come forwards. As Julian says at the beginning of the video, Wikileaks has released more leaks in the last couple of years than the rest of the world media COMBINED.