Bradley Manning’s statement taking responsibility for giving documents to Wikileaks is a remarkable document. In it, he says several important things.
This email was sent out to the Wikileaks Support Announcement list.
As I’ve said before, I believe that the most important task related to defending Wikileaks is to defend Bradley Manning. His pre-trial hearing (after more than 500 days in jail) will be announced any day now. We would love to have a large and immediate response to send a message to the powers-that-be.
We were able to improve Bradley’s conditions in jail through our activism. A large turnout will help Bradley get a public, instead of a closed, trial, which in turn tremendously improves his chances of going free or getting a shorter sentence.
Two of my favorite things, together. Slavoj Žižek’s article on Wikileaks: Good Manners in the Age of WikiLeaks. He ends with this:
This is precisely our situation today: we face the shameless cynicism of a global order whose agents only imagine that they believe in their ideas of democracy, human rights and so on. Through actions like the WikiLeaks disclosures, the shame – our shame for tolerating such power over us – is made more shameful by being publicised. When the US intervenes in Iraq to bring secular democracy, and the result is the strengthening of religious fundamentalism and a much stronger Iran, this is not the tragic mistake of a sincere agent, but the case of a cynical trickster being beaten at his own game.
The article I was looking for is here. Doesn’t mention Time or TNR, though.
The Big Lie
The biggest lie is that Wikileaks “indiscriminately dumped” 250,000 unredacted cables on the Web. The truth is that as of January 4th, 2011, they have released just under 2000 diplomatic cables, each of them carefully vetted by one of their partner news organizations. Glenn Greenwald has done a great job of attempting to slay this dragon.
Many, many mainstream media outlets have repeated this lie. Sometimes an organization is inconsistent, and tells the truth sometimes and the lie other times. We need to force each and every one to always say the truth.
NPR recently corrected their lie and apologized. This is great news! But just the beginning….
Somewhere out there I thought I read a list of all the other orgs and quotes and links to this big lie. Can’t find it – so I’m putting up this. Please add examples in the comments.
Easy start: Time: “But the law is too broad a brush to try to draw a distinction between WikiLeaks’ indiscriminate posting of the cables — which Burns called “nihilistic” — and the more careful vetting evidenced by The New York Times, Abrams said.” This was the subject of an article by Glenn Greenwald.
The New Republic: “…Wikileaks would have dumped that information, along with the other 250,000 cables.”
1. We are people of tech.
2. We live and work everywhere.
3. We value our own freedom, the freedom of people who use our technology and freedom in general.
4. We think there is no meaningful distinction between WikiLeaks and the news organizations covering the stories in cooperation with WikiLeaks.
5. We urge all governments to respect freedom of the press, whether the news originates online or offline.
6. We apply these principles in our work and they are embodied in our technology.
This is not my own work and I disagree with certain points of view, but I find the analysis insightful. This is by Jean-Christophe Rufin. Translated with the help of Google Translate from the original “WikiLeaks ou la troisième revolte” at Le Monde. Original date: (20.12.10 | 14h18 • Mis à jour le 23.12.10 | 15h24)
Doctors Without Borders / WikiLeaks: same methods, same fight? The idea of a link between the two movements may be shocking. The first is a recognized and respectable association, hailed as useful to humanity; the other is a quasi-clandestine website considered, following its recent revelations, irresponsible.
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is considered to be a key element in that country’s mostly non-violent change from an apartheid regime to a more just (though still extremely challenged) society. One thing the TRC is credited with is breaking down the denial of white citizens about the realities of apartheid. By keeping the crimes of apartheid in the news day after day for months if not years, whites could not simply ignore inconvenient information but had to confront the ugly truths about apartheid. That helped solidify the new system and disarm reactionary opponents.
In a similar way, this slow leaking of documents by the Guardian and other news organizations is having a great effect on the legitimacy of the present political order. The first rule of PR is to get out in front of the scandal, accept blame, and end the story. Preferably on a busy news day or just before a weekend or other “dead” time. Surprisingly, this works. (For example, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had an affair with the alcoholic wife of his best friend (both were employees of his). He admitted it, the story died, and he was re-elected as mayor and then later elected to lieutenant governor of California. WTF?)
Cablegate is not ending. It’s barely even started. Even if they started with the juicy stuff, there’s much to come. Only about 0.5% of the cables have been released to the general public. Each new story reinforces the narrative of US arrogance, hypocrisy, and unaccountable power. Each new twist pisses off some new sector of society – whether it’s environmentalists learning that the US wanted to retaliate against GMO-opposing European nations, geeks finding out about secret negotiations around intellectual property law, or nationalists having their fears confirmed of US interference into the internal affairs of India, Yemen, Italy, and Germany, among others.
Opponents have tried for years to peacefully change US foreign policy, but it’s extremely hard to get the domestic (or even foreign) press to do the subject justice. These cables gave us all an initial shock, but it’s the long, slow corrosion of the US’s unearned image of legitimacy in the eyes of people both inside and outside its borders that will have the largest effect.
Examining my reaction to the corporate censorship and financial strangulation of Wikileaks, I am struck now by the unconsciousness of my ideas about how corporations and other large institutions should communicate. As I said in fairly impromptu remarks:
One thing I want to point out is that Mastercard and Visa, who basically blocked people like you and me from donating money to support Wikileaks, and Amazon who kicked Wikileaks off [their service], none of them have issued even a press release. I contacted them and Mastercard had some lame thing like “well, there’s quotes in news articles”. No, it’s the modern age – it’s the internet – you’re supposed to talk to the people and tell them directly. You can’t even have a press release explaining what you did and why?
(I see now that there is at least one blog post by Amazon about its decision to drop Wikileaks. That post is not very convincing, but at least it’s there. On the other hand, Bank of America has now joined the blockade of Wikileaks, again through a quote shared with some newspapers, but not posted on the web.)
I believe these ideas are widely shared – note, for example, the laughter accompanying my mention of “quotes in news articles”. At some point we just unconsciously absorbed the new ethos – that since intermediation by traditional news organizations is not necessary, it is suspect. A press release, a corporate form of obfuscation and media manipulation if there ever was one, is still held to be better than no publicly shared statement at all. Having only “quotes in news articles” means you talked to those who you defined as “the press”. You hid behind the corporate press as intermediaries rather than giving us a good chunk of text to critique directly.
It is this perception of hiding that is so galling. We expect you, power, to speak with us, The People Formerly Known as the Audience, and barring that, at least to speak to us. Choosing to speak only to or with the traditional news organizations is perceived as appalling cowardice. And in this case, with good reason – the actions of these corporate giants are considered illegitimate by many people. The last thing these organizations want is a wide-ranging and in-depth discussion of the problems of unaccountable corporate power and, in particular, the tri-opoly of internet payment mechanisms.
Basically what happened was Monday night I was like, ok, this is bullshit! This is San Francisco. San Jose had a protest, San Francisco can’t take this shit lying down, right? So I was like, ok, well I’ll look and see if there’s something online, and then if there isn’t, I’ll just do it, on Friday, let’s say, cause that’ll give us lots of time to prepare – four days, right?
1970s Armed Revolutionary Groups in the West
(didn’t know we had them, did you?)
There has been some controversy over whether the distributed denial of service attacks by Anonymous against Mastercard, Visa, and others are right or wrong.