Posts tagged ‘Julian Assange’

December 14, 2010

WikiLeaks, journalists and that elusive public interest -by Jonathan Holmes

by admin

Related articles:

Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange

Assange: charges are part of campaign to close down WikiLeaks, he vows to fight extradition

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks VS Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Mickeyleaks

It’s an unusual event: an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by the editor or editor-in-chief of almost every significant mainstream news medium in the nation – radio, television and newspapers – with the sole exception, interestingly, of The Australian‘s Chris Mitchell.

Its essential point is that WikiLeaks ‘is part of the media and deserves our support’; that prosecuting it or its editor, Julian Assange, because WikiLeaks has published confidential government documents would be unprecedented in the United States, and in Australia, ‘would seriously curtail Australian media organisations reporting on subjects the Government decides are against its interests’.

In other words, the Walkley Foundation’s letter is an elaboration of the attack made in his acceptance speech last Thursday night by Gold Walkley winner Laurie Oakes on the Government’s reaction to WikiLeaks.

All very admirable. And I want to make it clear, for what it’s worth, that I agree with the letter’s arguments as, he tells me, does Chris Mitchell.

But there are a few other points that bear repeating, lest the media get too carried away with the notion that by publishing the WikiLeaks cables it is exclusively serving ‘the public interest’.

First, nobody seems to be defending the alleged leaker of this unprecedented trove of secret documents, Private First Class Bradley Manning of the US Army. It seems generally agreed that Private Manning is facing up to 50 years in prison for his indiscretion. Yet despite all the talk about whistleblowers, shield laws and the media’s duty to let daylight into the processes of government, no-one is claiming, seriously, that Manning’s actions could be justified under the law of the United States or almost anywhere else.

If the allegations against him are proven, Private Manning will be revealed as a leaker, not a whistleblower. With some notable exceptions (Hillary Clinton’s requirement that her diplomats spy on the UN, for example) the vast mass of these documents do not reveal wrongdoing, corruption or malfeasance, but the normal activities of diplomats, reporting frankly under the understandable assumption that their reports would remain confidential.

Yes, of course their publication causes intense embarrassment, to the US State Department and to many of the subjects of the cables. Whether that embarrassment, and the effect it will have on the ability of diplomats everywhere (and anyone else who relies on the confidentiality of electronic communication) to report frankly to their superiors or colleagues, is ‘in the public interest’, is very much an open question.

Second, Private Manning went to WikiLeaks, presumably, because he felt that his identity would be better protected by that organisation than by any other. That may be the case. It does not seem to be through any action or negligence on WikiLeaks’s part, but through his own indiscretions, that Bradley Manning came to the attention of the US authorities. However, one reason why neither Julian Assange, nor WikiLeaks, nor any of the great newspapers which are its collaborators in the document release, have been under any pressure to reveal their source, is that the US government has convinced itself (rightly or wrongly) that the source is already known and in custody.

That being the case, the entire justification for WikiLeaks’s existence – its ability to protect its sources through its unique information-laundering and encryption techniques – is irrelevant in this instance.

Third, Julian Assange has made another claim for WikiLeaks, which he says sets it apart from other media organisations. According to this op-ed in The Australian last week:

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Well, WikiLeaks clearly doesn’t insist on ‘scientific journalism’ being practised by all the media outlets with which it’s working. The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald are still publishing story after story by Philip Dorling – stories that have deeply embarrassed or compromised Kevin Rudd, Mark Arbib, Joel Fitzgibbon, and Stephen Gumley, to name just a few, not to mention the US Embassy in Canberra. But we can’t judge for ourselves if Dorling has reported accurately or fairly, because Fairfax hasn’t posted a single cable online.

On Monday I sent an email to SMH editor-in-chief Peter Fray, asking him why not. His response (read it in full here) makes it clear that the primary reason is to protect not the public, but Fairfax’s commercial, interest:

…the volume of material in the Australian referenced cables means we are still mining the source documents. There are, for instance, several potential stories in each cable; to put the material online would be to give access to our competitors in the local market.

That’s not a line of reasoning that has prevented The Guardian, the New York TimesDer SpiegelLe Monde or any other of WikiLeaks’s collaborators from posting cables online to support their stories; and it would seem to be in direct contravention of the principles espoused by Julian Assange. Perhaps he’s been too preoccupied by other matters recently to have noticed.

Philip Dorling has undoubtedly scored a major scoop for Fairfax. Most of the stories he’s writing – and there are goodness knows how many to come – are fascinating, especially to politics and foreign policy junkies. But we’re having to take them on trust, and we shouldn’t have to. And very few are telling us stuff we didn’t already know (Kevin Rudd’s a control freak; Defence Procurement is a mess; China doesn’t like the Defence White Paper): what they are telling us is that the US Embassy knew it too, often before we did. Surprise, surprise.

Government ministers hold power because their party secured a majority of votes (or it did before August 2010). Nobody elected a single one of the signatories of the Walkley Foundation’s letter.

So while we’re all enjoying the humiliation of ministers and ex-ministers – a great Australian sport, which right now we seem to be better at than cricket – we should also remember to exercise towards the media’s more grandiose claims that other talent for which Australians are supposedly famous: bullshit detection.

Jonathan Holmes is the presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch.


December 12, 2010

WikiLeaks cyber war: pro-Assange Anonymous v US nationalists

by admin

Hundreds of Australians rally in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Sydney on Friday. Photo: AFP

The controversy surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has started a heated cyber war between Mr Assange’s supporters and a group of patriotic Americans.

And a Sydney member of the pro-WikiLeaks cyber attackers has revealed he is disillusioned with the group, saying they “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a pub”.

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Last week, a group of loose-knit cyber attackers dubbed Anonymous took down the websites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal in retaliation for the companies’ refusal to process WikiLeaks-related transactions following pressure from US politicians.

The attacks were named “Operation Payback” but now a group of American nationalists is counter-attacking Anonymous under the banner “Operation Fightback”.

“For the continued defense of our nations (sic) people & businesses,” the tagline of the new group’s Twitter page, @AnonymousDown, reads, above a link to a YouTube clip of “God Bless the USA”.

“Malicious tactics being employed by the Anonymous movement will not be tolerated … freedom of speech is one thing, personal and corporate infrastructure is another,” the operator of the Twitter page wrote.

Using the same methods as Anonymous – distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which flood servers with millions of requests – the Operation Fightback group has been able to seriously disrupt Anonymous’s operations and prevent it from launching new attacks.

Anonymous members used a software application called Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to launch their attacks, which received its instructions on which targets to attack from an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel.

A Sydney-based member of Anonymous, who spoke to this website last week, said today that the IRC server used by the group had been knocked offline by the Operation Fightback counter-attackers. This had prevented them from launching new attacks.

“It seems to be going to hell in a bucket,” he said in a phone interview.

The man said that, in addition to attacking the Anonymous IRC servers, the Operation Fightback group had also been putting up fake targets to confuse Anonymous members and get them to attack the wrong IP addresses.

“There are still people hanging around on the Operation Payback channel and trying to co-ordinate attacks and the last known target was, but that seems to be falling apart because of both the DDoS on the IRC channel as well as people getting IP banned when they launch attacks against,” he said.

“ administrators appear to be actively monitoring incoming packets and they’re doing IP blocks on wherever an attack is coming from.”

Anonymous members are just ‘script kiddies’

The Sydney Anonymous member has grown increasingly disillusioned with his colleagues over the weekend, saying today that they were “really just ordinary dumb shit kids” who do not know much about network technology.

He said attacks on PayPal failed for the most part because PayPal had a sophisticated server farm that could not be knocked out by a DDoS attack, and the Anonymous members were hitting the wrong target.

“If they would’ve gone after PayPal’s domain name server [DNS] they would have been able to shut down PayPal entirely but they didn’t know enough about network technology to work that out,” he said.

The Sydney Anonymous member said the group had also failed in similar attempts to attack Amazon, which last week refused to host WikiLeaks files. Some of Amazon’s European websites suffered a half-hour outage over the weekend but it was not clear whether this was caused by cyber attacks.

He said that, rather than being full-blown hackers, the Anonymous members were “script kiddies” who only knew how to download the LOIC program and run it.

“They’re very unprofessional, illogical and irrational and very much their actions are based upon emotions,” he said.

“They don’t organise well, they don’t co-ordinate well and it’s a lot like CB radio back in the 1970s – people farting into the microphone. These people couldn’t organise a piss-up in a pub.”

Contrary to the group’s name, Anonymous members who used the LOIC program to attack targets could easily be traced and identified, The University of Twente in Holland said in new research. Dutch police have already arrested two teenagers over the attacks.

James Lewis, a specialist in cyber security at Washington think tank the Centre for International and Strategic Studies, played down the attacks, saying it was more like a “noisy political demonstration” than a cyber war as only websites were knocked out, not back-end systems.

“For me, this is political theater, kabuki – entertaining and perhaps influential, but much less than war,” he said.

Change of strategy

While there is no central command structure to Anonymous and several splinter groups have formed, a statement put out over the weekend said Anonymous was changing tactics, abandoning its strategy of online attacks on organisations seen as hostile to WikiLeaks.

In an overnight blog post, Anonymous said it now aimed to publish parts of the confidential US diplomatic cables as widely as possible and in ways that made them as hard as possible to trace.

“We have, at best, given them a black eye. The game has changed. When the game changes, so too must our strategies,” said the blog post announcing “Operation: Leakspin”.

The activists are now encouraging supporters to search through leaked cables on the WikiLeaks site and publish summaries of ones that have been least exposed, labelling them so they are hard to find by any authority seeking to quash them.

“Use misleading tags, everything from ‘Tea Party’ to ‘Bieber’. Post snippets of the leaks everywhere,” the blog said, referring to the US grassroots conservative movement and the 16-year-old Canadian pop phenomenon Justin Bieber.

US charges imminent

Mr Assange is in isolation at London’s Wandsworth prison awaiting hearings related to Sweden’s request to extradite him to face sexual misconduct allegations.

Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, who is defending the Australian-born activist in the Swedish rape investigation, told Britain’s Daily Mail that he has seen secret police documents that prove he is innocent of rape claims made against him by two women in Stockholm.

One of his other lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, has said an indictment brought by the US under the Espionage Act, over separate allegations that Mr Assange unlawfully leaked hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables, was imminent.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, seemed to be at odds with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, when he said that, despite suggestions by Mr McClelland that Mr Assange’s passport may be cancelled, the final decision rested exclusively with him.

Ms Gillard and Mr McClellend have accused Mr Assange of undertaking illegal acts but have since been unable to specify exactly which laws he had broken. Mr Rudd has blamed the diplomatic cable leaks on the US, saying it did not secure its systems.

Over the weekend Mr McClelland said it could be a year before the Australian Federal Police was able to determine whether WikiLeaks committed a criminal act.

Efforts to stem the embarrassing leaks could be futile as, even if WikiLeaks is shut down, competing sites will spring up immediately to take its place. One site, Openleaks, staffed by WikiLeaks defectors, is due to launch this week.


December 11, 2010

Keeping secrets WikiSafe -by Scott Shane

by admin

WASHINGTON — Can the government still keep a secret? In an age of WikiLeaks, flash drives and instant Web postings, leaks have begun to seem unstoppable.

That may be just a first impression. Sobered government officials are scrambling to stop the hemorrhage of documents, even as antisecrecy radicals are discovering that some secrets may be worth protecting after all.

Still, there’s been a change. Traditional watchdog journalism, which has long accepted leaked information in dribs and drabs, has been joined by a new counterculture of information vigilantism that now promises disclosures by the terabyte. A bureaucrat can hide a library’s worth of documents on a key fob, and scatter them over the Internet to a dozen countries during a cigarette break.

That accounts for how, in the three big WikiLeaks document dumps since July, the usual trickle of leaks became a torrent. All of it, disguised as a Lady Gaga CD, was smuggled out of a military intelligence office, according to government prosecutors, by Pfc. Bradley Manning, a soldier now imprisoned and charged with the leak.

Even two decades ago, in the days of kilobytes and floppy discs, such an ocean of data would have been far more difficult to capture and carry away. Four decades ago, using a photocopier, a leaker might have needed a great many reams of paper and a tractor-trailer.

“I do think it’s true that the large contours of national and international policy are much harder to keep secret today,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It would not be possible to conduct a secret war in Cambodia, as took place in the Nixon administration.”

Indeed, within hours of American missile strikes in Yemen against suspected Al Qaeda camps last December, amateur video of the destruction was on YouTube. The videos labeled the strikes “American.” The strikes have never been publicly acknowledged by the Defense Department.

Or consider the speed at which news travels. During the Iran-contra affair, American arms sales to Iran were first reported by a Beirut weekly, Al Shiraa, in November 1986; it was a few days before the American press picked up the story. “Now it would take a few minutes,” said Mr. Aftergood.

Long before WikiLeaks, of course, reporters often met bureaucrats with troubled consciences or agendas, and produced sensational disclosures. The Pentagon Papers is the iconic case. More recently, the classic muckraking model unveiled closely guarded programs that the Bush administration put into place after Sept. 11, 2001: the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prisons; waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods; the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping without court warrants on American soil.

All those disclosures led to public debate and to action: the prisons were closed; coercive interrogations were banned; the N.S.A. program was brought under court supervision. But the disclosures also fed a bipartisan sense in Congress and across the intelligence agencies that secrets were too casually whispered to reporters. One unexpected result in the first two years of the Obama administration has been four prosecutions of government employees on charges of disclosing classified information, more such prosecutions than under any previous president.

That is a reason to suspect that the openness of this new era will have limits. Would-be leakers can, presumably, be dissuaded; they can be outmaneuvered in the technological cat-and-mouse game; they can learn self-restraint. And there are signs that all of that may be happening in the WikiLeaks case.

WikiLeaks set out with “a ‘Field of Dreams’ philosophy for inviting leaks — ‘If we build it, they will come,’ ” said Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which obtains and publishes declassified government documents. “They tried to create a safe place for disclosures. But with Bradley Manning behind bars, who’s going to rush to follow his example?”

Now, with the third WikiLeaks collection linked to Private Manning in the news, members of Congress have called with new ferocity for punishing the group and its provocateur-in-chief, Julian Assange. Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, has asked the State Department to consider designating WikiLeaks a terrorist group; Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, has called for espionage charges against Mr. Assange, an idea that legal experts say is problematic. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut has called for an investigation of The New York Times because it has published some of the material obtained by WikiLeaks.

Whether or not the Obama administration tries to prosecute those who disseminated the information, it is determined to use technology to preserve its secrets. The Defense Department is scaling back information sharing, which its leaders believe went too far after information hoarding was blamed for the failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot.

The department has also stripped CD and DVD recorders from its computers; it is redesigning security systems to require two people, not one, to move large amounts of information from a classified computer to an unclassified one; and it is installing software to detect downloads of unusual size.

Yet even as the government seeks to rein in WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks is reining in itself. The confidential diplomatic cables it disclosed have unquestionably turned the discreet world of diplomacy upside down. But the disclosures have been far more modest than WikiLeaks’ self-proclaimed dedication to total transparency might suggest.

Had it chosen to do so, WikiLeaks could have posted on the Web all 251,287 confidential diplomatic cables about six months ago, when the group obtained them. Instead, it shared the cables with traditional news organizations and has coordinated the cables’ release with them. As of Friday, fewer than 1 percent of the cables had been released on the Web by the antisecrecy group, The Times and four European publications combined.

“They’ve actually embraced” the mainstream media, “which they used to treat as a cuss word,” Mr. Blanton said. “I’m watching WikiLeaks grow up. What they’re doing with these diplomatic documents so far is very responsible.”

When the newspapers have redacted cables to protect diplomats’ sources, WikiLeaks has generally been careful to follow suit. Its volunteers now accept that not all government secrets are illegitimate; for example, revealing the identities of Chinese dissidents, Russian journalists or Iranian activists who had talked to American diplomats might subject them to prison or worse.

In an op-ed essay for The Australian last week, Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian citizen who is currently being held in Britain on sex charges from Sweden, declared his devotion to some core Western press values. “Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media,” he wrote. “The media helps keep government honest.”

But WikiLeaks has not quite joined the ranks of traditional publishing, and it may yet cast all restraint aside. Reaching back to his hacker roots, Mr. Assange has created what he calls an “insurance” plan for his own future and that of WikiLeaks. The group has put on the Web, for download, encrypted files containing a huge trove of documents that have not yet been released. Thousands of people have downloaded the files.

If the United States moves to prosecute, Mr. Assange has said, the group will release the encryption key, in effect making public tens of thousands of unredacted cables — and who knows what other dangerous secrets.

It is a 21st-century threat, and one the Obama administration is taking very seriously.


December 11, 2010

Terrorists win if Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are silenced, supporters plan protests worldwide

by admin

Related articles:

Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange

Assange: charges are part of campaign to close down WikiLeaks, he vows to fight extradition

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks VS Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Mickeyleaks

People hold images of Julian Assange in front of their faces at a demonstration in Brisbane, Australia. Photograph: Steve Gray/EPA

According to The Guardian’s report, protests will be held around the world today against the detention ofJulian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Demonstrations are planned in the capitals of Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru to demand Assange’s release, the re-establishment of WikiLeaks domain name and the restoration of Visa and Mastercard credit services to allow supporters to donate money to the whistleblowing site.

A statement on the Spanish-language website Free WikiLeaks said: “We seek the liberation of Julian Assange in United Kingdom territory.” The website called on protesters to gather at 6pm (17.00 GMT) in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville and three other Spanish cities.

It also calls for “the re-establishment of the WikiLeaks ( internet domain,” and the restoration of Visa and MasterCard credit card services to enable the “freedom to move money” because no one has “proved Assange’s guilt”, nor charged WikiLeaks with any crime.

Assange is in Wandsworth prison in south London after being refused bail on Tuesday. Sweden is seeking his extradition over allegations of sexual assault.

His lawyers said yesterday they are preparing for a possible indictment by the US authorities.

Jennifer Robinson said her team had heard from “several different US lawyers rumours that an indictment was on its way or had happened already, but we don’t know”.

According to some reports, Washington is seeking to prosecute Assange under the 1917 act, which was used unsuccessfully to try to gag the New York Times when it published the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. However, despite escalating rhetoric over the past fortnight, no charges have yet been lodged, and government sources say they are unaware any such move is being prepared.

Robinson said Assange’s team did not believe the US had grounds to prosecute him but understood that Washington was “looking closely at other charges, such as computer charges, so we have one eye on it”.

Earlier this week, the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said the US had been put at risk by the flood of confidential diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks and he authorised a criminal investigation.

In another op-ed, published in the Vancouver Sun says, terrorists win if Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are silenced.

When animals perceive an external threat they close ranks. Torture becomes acceptable. Senior advisers to prime ministers publicly call for assassinations. We’re scared. We’re running scared, all of us. We’re wondering when Canada will get its first major terrorist attack. We’re wondering if Julian Assange’s big mouth will facilitate that terrorist attack.

Columnist Dan Gardner is right — ever since Sept. 11, 2001 — when many of us felt that external threat for the first time and no one knew what was happening and the only people running the world were a few CNN anchors -our Canadian mind-sets changed and we were willing to become less liberal for the first time if it meant ensuring our own survival. Animals closing ranks. Taking sides. No longer were we a fly on the wall … we were what the fly was watching.

We are now at war. We are no longer safely, comfortably, arrogantly and sanitarily observing from the wings. We don’t have that luxury any more. We are direct participants in a major world conflict. But shutting up Assange isn’t the answer. Stifling the free flow of information is like giving in to the terrorists. If we let anyone make us close ranks such that the democratic values Canada stands for are thrown out the window we become animals.

Assange is right -surely in the year 2010 human beings have evolved enough such that we don’t need secrets any more and closing ranks should be a cliquish anachronism.

December 11, 2010

The liars collective: Pakistani media in service of the ISI – by Nadeem F. Paracha

by admin

In spite of the fact that by the evening the said leaks were deemed fake, it still did not stop some TV channels belonging to the same media groups that carried the ‘story’, and a few others, from running talk shows in which the usual brigade of ultra-patriotic and knee-jerk set of journalists, analysts and anchors gleefully heaped scorn at India’s alleged involvement in Pakistan’s affairs. – File Photo (AP)

Related article:

A glaring example of how ISI dictates Pakistani newspapers: The case of a missing WikiLeak cable

The liars collective

If you think people like Zaid Hamid, Aamir Liaquat and Atiqa Odho are kind of silly with their usual convoluted rants studded with the most worn-out clichés regarding India, Israel, Islam and more – think again.

A bulk of those appearing on popular Urdu news channels or writing columns and editorials in some newspapers can get equally silly, if not worse. Take the example of how some dailies and channels ran stories about the supposed Wikileaks documents that portrayed some Indian generals as being bigots who are anti-Pakistan and how India was involved in all the terrible happenings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Well within hours after some dailies – three of them right-wing and one kind of liberal – broke this stunning disclosure in their headlines, a media blog, Café Pyala, made bare that the dramatic leaks in this respect were actually false. Soon, The Guardian’s Declan Walsh too, was out proving the same in a story for the respected British newspaper and by the evening, numerous left/liberal Pakistani websites had also picked up on the debacle.

It was thus logically expected that the involved newspapers would at once publish a retraction on their websites.

But that would be asking for a bit much from the media which has created a large bubble around itself – a kind of pro-reactive drawing-room Utopia-turned-dystopia that its advocates are always hell-bent on defending, no matter how silly, infuriating and sometimes, downright ugly they may come out sounding.

The message in this regard also had something to do with taking those liberals to task who always mocked these super patriots of being conspiratorial cranks: ‘Now that we have the proof, we’ll show them how right we were!’

Unfortunately, the so-called proof that these gentlemen could have waved as an evidence of their (somewhat questionable) sanity, came to a naught. It was all a lie. A desperate (and somewhat childish) scheme hatched in certain ‘think tanks’ where jumpy little chauvinists and patriots contemplate (nay, convolute and disfigure) everything from history to news items, in an attempt to keep certain overbearing institutions of the establishment from harm’s way.

Each time any of these institutions is rocked by a scandal or an exposé, certain newspapers and TV channels suddenly start teeming with loud deniers who would go to absurd lengths to divert the public’s attention towards something more ‘substantial’, such as of course, the ‘record-breaking corruption’ of this government, the fantastic job the free judiciary is doing, or how India remains the greatest threat to Pakistan. Or some feel-good lectures by a crank or two, usually crammed with airy myths presented as historical facts, are unleashed.

This has happened so many times that one wonders whether what many journalists and politicians on the other side of the ideological fence say, is true. Whether most of the media personnel we see on our TV screens or read about in the newspaper, who are always so passionately waving the flag of Pakistan and spouting contempt against corruption (especially when a narrative by the establishment comes under stress), may very well be the proverbial ‘agency men?’

Is veteran journalist, author and media commentator, late Zamir Niazi’s fear and warnings about the Pakistani media becoming a chaotic hub of agency men who are amorally willing to lie and cheat to protect even the most atrocious ways of their patrons in the figurative establishment be true? Perhaps. But the deluge that was created by the Wikileaks around certain sacred cows who identify themselves to be the saviours of Pakistan’s internal and external religious and ideological identity – mainly the military, the political clergy and Saudi Arabia – was such that no attempt to deflect criticism from these gallant souls seemed to be working.

So, off went many dailies and TV channels to try something else. First, certain specific leaks were selected to make the President seem like a Satan incarnate. Not much came out of this, and the gear was shifted and all of sudden one saw certain journalists claiming something about how the leaks were a conspiracy against Muslims. Obviously, this too made them seem even sillier, until the fake leaks – certainly a desperate last ditch effort.

Although some dailies were gracious enough to publish an apology the next morning, the two major Urdu papers and the TV channels did not. By refusing to acknowledge just how this calculated blunder has once and for all undermined all the self-glorified hoopla these media houses are known to air about their dedication of working towards a corruption-free Pakistan, they have at best become an international laughing stock, and at worst, are now perceived as nothing but a rabid set of liars.

Source: DAWN

December 10, 2010

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks VS Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Mickeyleaks

by admin

Related article:

A glaring example of how ISI dictates Pakistani newspapers: The case of a missing WikiLeak cable

Let Us Build Pakistan rightly claims that ‘Jang group’ is inherently biased against democratic politics, is continuously propagating misconceptions about Pakistan Peoples Party led civilian government and is also preaching hate toward neighbor countries. It is basic journalistic principle that news should be reported in neutral terms and published after cross verification but this group always ignored basic journalistic principles i.e(fact-checking/two independent sources rule).

Global leaders and all the concerned citizens of the world are continuously praising Julian Assange by saying that he is doing better work than many journalists and diplomats and they also questioning his arrest. It appears every person who believes in democracy and freedom suporting WikiLeaks showing concern for Julian Assange and declaring him as a real hero of Cyber-Age.

A former CIA agent whose duties included briefing the first President Bush and Ronald Reagan, has written an open letter of support for WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

Ray McGovern told Close Up he considers Assange to be a hero for “challenging the empire”

McGovern says WikiLeaks is doing the job the mainstream media has stopped doing. And WikiLeaks has given the public an “incredible” insight into the reality of what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan

“Why was Mr. Assange hidden in prison?” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked at a news conference. “Is this democracy?”

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Thursday in Brasilia. “There is nothing, nothing for freedom of expression and against the imprisonment of this guy who was doing better work than many of the ambassadors.”

“The brave man was arrested because he was exposing the real face of the big powers,” Tariq Naeemullah said.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in three Australian cities today to rage against the arrest of Julian Assange. Some wearing face masks, they marched, chanted and waved banners as they called for the release of the WikiLeaks founder.

The government was branded “sycophants to the US” for condemning Mr Assange’s website while campaigners raised $250,000 to buy advertisements in the New York Times supporting him.

Protesters also criticised his arrest in Britain, during rallies in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Many see his detention as an attempt to hinder the continued release of hundreds of thousands of government files through WikiLeaks.

“Assange is a hero of our time, telling truth is not a crime,” the marchers chanted.

WikiLeaks supporters have vowed to wreak havoc on companies that are deemed as enemies of the whistleblowing website, and UK’s biggest online retailer Amazon has been cited as the next target.

It’s interesting to note that WikiLeaks has won awards including the 2008 Freedom of Expression award from the Index on Censorship and the2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award.

A day after his arrest in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has defended his website. In his op-ed Assange says democracies require strong media to keep governments honest, and WikiLeaks plays a role in this.

WikiLeaks has also provoked fury in Washington for publishing some of the 250,000 documents it has obtained from US embassies around the world -and have caused traditional media outlets to rethink how they report on sensitive information. The New York Times released a statement explaining that it believes that the “documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match”. It went on to acknowledge the reality though that if it did not publish the documents another newspaper inevitably would with the United Kingdom’s The Guardian, France’s Le Monde, and Spain’s El Paris all granted access. In some ways the exclusive publication of these documents has also driven jealousy amongst the media with independent journalist Anthony Lowensteinsuggesting reporters lack a backbone in challenging government condemnations.

The U.N.’s top human rights official raised the alarm Thursday over officials’ and corporations’ moves to cut off WikiLeaks’ funding and starve it of server space – something she described as “potentially violating WikiLeaks’ right to freedom of expression.”

Navi Pillay also expressed surprise at the scale of the online attacks that have targeted major American financial players – in some cases denying access to their websites for hours at a time.

“It’s truly what media would call a cyber-war. It’s just astonishing what is happening,” Pillay told reporters in Geneva.

Pillay said if WikiLeaks had broken the law “then this should be handled through the legal system and not through pressure and intimidation.”

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks show us what democracy should be about: transparency. Governments should be ashamed of the gulf between what they say in public an what they say behind closed doors.

The flow of online support has also sparked some solidarity on the streets. One pro-WikiLeaks protest in Australia sent about 250 demonstrators into the streets of Brisbane, surprisingly even in the central Pakistani city of Multan, dozens took to the streets to protest Assange’s detention.

And, on the contrary the whole world condemning ‘Jang Group’ for its policies and Latest Fakeleaks. If there’s anything more exiciting than real WikiLeaks revelations, it’s fake ones, interestingly this cable not revealed by Wikileaks but our leading publishing groups, who have been continuously advocating for ‘sovereignty’ and ‘self reliance’ , so keeping these high values in mind they recently invented their own ‘cablegate’, and here it’s first revelation, “Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Waziristan, Balochistan,” read the front-page story in the News; an almost identical story appeared in the Urdu-language Jang, Pakistan’s bestselling daily. So ‘proudly creator’ can brand it like ‘Mickeyleaks’ .

On Thursday, Pakistan was shaken as the front pages of several of its major dailies were splashed with damning WikiLeaks stories accusing the Indian government of conspiring with Hindu fundamentalists and supporting Islamist militants in Pakistani tribal regions. Other cables described India’s top generals as “as vain, egotistical and genocidal,” while in the same breath lavishing praise on Pakistani generals.

The Australian in it’s Op-Ed writes, IN the maelstrom of competing WikiLeaks revelations, the temptation to gild the lily was probably always going to be too great to resist.

And so it proved for a few of Pakistan’s more enthusiastic media players, who yesterday cited leaked US diplomatic cables describing senior Indian generals as egotistical and genocidal, and linking Indian intelligence agencies to the Taliban insurgency in Waziristan and the Balochistan separatist movement.

According to the BBC report, Pakistani newspapers have admitted they were hoaxed after publishing reports based on fake Wikileaks cables containing anti-Indian propaganda.

PTI, reporting from Islamabad, said the papers had “reproduced an elaborate Internet hoax”. The Guardian, which is one of the newspapers partnering with WikiLeaks in the publication of the cables, said the reports could be “the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes”.

The Guardian which first published the cables have now proved that the reports in Pakistani dailies are fake and not accurate. Guardian did it own searches and here’s what it published after that:

An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by the Guardian by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations.

It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.

The controversial claims, published in four Pakistani national papers, were credited to the Online Agency, an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-army stories in the past.

No journalist is bylined.
Red-faced, Pakistan newspapers and websites retracted the fake WikiLeaks stories they published yesterday and apologised saying they regret publishing the stories.

The English-language Express Tribune newspaper, a Pakistani affiliate of the International Herald Tribune, published a front-page retraction.

The daily said it “deeply regrets publishing this story without due verification and apologises profusely for any inconvenience”.

But Urdu daily Jang, which had reported the fake Wikileaks story on its front page, did not mention it on Friday.

Surely it requires no profound wisdom or special knowledge about Journalism and communication to see fundamental flaws in ‘News Reporting’, even layman can easily detect jang group’s bias against civilian democratic government and it’s anti peace propoganda by using simple journalistic techniques. If you review and analyze the content of it’s messages, it’s leading writer and columnist and jumping jack anchors always highlight negativity and one-sided version and mostly they don’t include alternative points of view and even they don’ t fairly and honestly present alternative arguments plus they deliberately ignore obviously conflicting arguments. they even used negative words and images to describe other points of view and ascribe negative motivations to alternative points of view.

Here is a really interesting  comment at ‘Cafe Pyala’ by Sagar:

Isn’t this the same group that promotes ‘Aman ki Asha’ jointly with

Times of India. Wonder why only Asha (hope) and why not actual Aman

itself? And how can someone claiming to promote ‘Aman’ call themselves

the ‘Jang’ group? Strange paradox.

Let Us Build Pakistan rightly claims that ‘Jang group’ is inherently biased toward democratic politics, it is continuously propagating misconceptions about Pakistan Peoples Party led elected civilian government and it is also preaching hate toward our neighbor countries. It is basic journalistic principle that news should be reported in neutral terms and published after cross verification but this group always ignored basic journalistic principles i.e(fact-checking/two independent sources rule).

And excellent suggestion by our fellow bloggers at “New Pakistan”:

This isn’t just about whether or not the media is reliable – it’s about whether or not the media is intentionally or unintentionally sabotaging our national security. In any other country that claims to view journalism as a serious institution, a scandal of this magnitude would result in massive sackings. It will be instructive to see whether or not Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has the courage and the principles to clean house.

Because let’s face it. Jang Group is humiliated today, as is the entire nation. But if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman doesn’t care about how his company and his nation look in the eyes of the rest of the world, he doesn’t have to do a thing. The people who read and believe this crap don’t read The Guardian, even if they do read English, so they likely don’t even know about the situation.

No matter what Jang decides to do internally, though, the courts should immediately begin an inquiry into this mess. Seriously, if there was ever a cause worthy of suo moto notice, is this not it? How can the FO expect India to be cooperative while Jang is running defamatory articles about them? We want the Americans to treat us with respect while Ansar Abbasi is on TV telling Moeed Pirzada that all this WikiLeaks stuff is a big American conspiracy and saying that there are no boundaries to the ruthlessness and carelessness of Americans. Where is Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman while all of this is happening?

If Jang Group wants to be a joke, that’s fine. They can continue selling all the fictions they want. But when they start publishing crap that undercuts the ability of government and military officials to do their jobs, that is where we need to draw the line. I strongly believe in a free media. And I strongly defend the right – even the responsibility – of the media to hold the government accountable. But I do NOT support the right for anyone in the media to SABOTAGE the government.

December 8, 2010

Times of universal deceit — by Dr Mohammad Taqi

by admin

The US government has now ordered all its employees to stay away from the WikiLeaks website even on their home computers and not read what the government still considers classified information. Big Brother keeps digging itself deeper into a hole

“Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death” —Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984.

Last week’s WikiLeaks had a distinct Orwellian aura to it. One could almost hear the 1984 theme music playing with O’Brien asking, “What are your feelings about Big Brother?” “I hate him,” replied Winston Smith. And then, of course, the all too familiar retort from O’Brien, “You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him.”

But, apparently, thoughtcrime has been committed. Some, who did not love Big Brother, decided to disobey him too. The 250,000 secret diplomatic cables started becoming public, one bagful at a time. Big Brother, of course, is writhing in agony because the commoners did not heed its warnings invoking sacrosanct national security or the presumed disruption of the world order. However, the agony is not just of defeat but is also compounded by the fact that “one man with a laptop” and a private, first-class sergeant carry far more credibility with the public around the globe than the super or quasi-superpowers and their clients. Prometheus has stolen the fire from Zeus and has handed it over to the mortals.

The humpty dumpty of the official truths that these diplomats and the governments that they worked for and with had so painstakingly created has taken a great fall. The common citizens feel vindicated, as they had known all along that the gospel of official truth is nothing more than a mirage they were supposed to believe blindly. All the king’s men and women have now set out to put their humpty dumpty back together again — through whatever means it might take.

What is still lost on the government functionaries around the world, and especially US officials, is that this trust deficit between them and the public did not develop overnight. Whether it was lying about the Hiroshima bombing, overthrowing Iran’s Dr Mossadegh, the slaughter of thousands of Chileans including Dr Allende, creating the Afghan mujahideen monster, the Iran-Contra scandal, lies about WMDs and stage-managing the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue, the list of the skulduggeries perpetrated on the world is endless. Decades of disinformation, half-truths and lies have contributed to a credibility gap between the words and actions of governments, especially the US government, which is now wider than the Grand Canyon.

What also remains lost on the US government and those abetting its campaign against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is that going after him on grounds as flimsy as broken condoms (the charge against Assange being that he allegedly proceeded with sex, despite protests from his previously consensual partners, after protection broke down), is eroding whatever little credibility they might have left.

From the outset it became clear to most observers that the US literally has no case against Mr Assange and would very likely resort to pressing Sweden to pursue the alleged sexual harassment charges against him. Last week, the Voice of America’s Pashto service Deewa Radio conducted a special on WikiLeaks and whether they constituted espionage or journalism. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke recorded this ‘exclusive’ observation for the telecast: “The WikiLeaks is very unfortunate. This is an appalling breach of security by whoever did it — we think we know who it is — but whoever did it violated his oath of office to the US and committed an act for which he will be charged to the full extent of the law.”

The host then asked me and other participants to comment on Holbrooke’s remark. My take was, and remains, that the US does not stand a chance in hell to prosecute Assange under the present US and international laws and that Richard ‘the bulldozer’ Holbrooke was alluding to pulverising sergeant Bradley Manning — the little guy who allegedly disobeyed Big Brother.

How much more Orwellian can it get? Apparently it can. The US government has now ordered all its employees to stay away from the WikiLeaks website even on their home computers and not read what the government still considers classified information. Big Brother keeps digging itself deeper into a hole.

At the time of this writing, Julian Assange is being remanded in British police custody, after being denied bail in the Swedish case referred to above. Republican Mike Huckabee wants Assange assassinated, a few others want the use of military force against him, and Sarah Palin wants him “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”. What these right-wing hacks keep forgetting is that, despite being subjected to decades of controlled media and manufactured truths, the world at large retains a voracious appetite for the unvarnished truth. Call it left-wing, name it anarchism or brand it treasonous, upwards of four million new-user hits on the British daily The Guardian’s website on day one of the cables’ release show that the people do not swallow the official truth. Even if nonsense is shoved down their throats, they puke it up the first chance they get.

When The New York Times had confidently reported ‘No Radioactivity in Hiroshima’ and all journalists had been ushered to see the Japanese kneel before General McArthur, Wilfred Burchett was reporting — through cable — in his landmark story for London’s Daily Express ‘The Atomic Plague’ that more than just a bomb blast had caused the deaths at Hiroshima. The US censor came down hard on Burchett and vilified him and any paper that reproduced the report. We now know that it was the first report that documented the radiation fallout and the nuclear holocaust.

Henry Kissinger used to say that states could not be held to the same moral standards as ordinary citizens. Many officials around the world apparently continue to subscribe to his thought that not only are they above any moral standards, they also have a privilege to stomp on them secretly and deny such dealings publicly. But the common man clearly subscribes to Claud Cockburn’s proviso of “do not believe anything until it is officially denied”.

George Orwell had observed: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” While Assange may not be a revolutionary himself, he has revolutionised the way tech-media has forced the traditional media to take note of information that may otherwise have ended up being much like The New York Times reporting of the Hiroshima bombing. Thoughtcrime remains the perfect antidote to universal deceit.

Source: Daily Times

December 8, 2010

WikiLeaks, the web and the power of the people -by Dan Nolan

by admin

The tale of WikiLeaks is fast becoming the litmus test of the robustness of the internet.

Julian Assange has been arrested in the UK and refused bail and the international scrum to scan legislation and precedent to find a crime to charge him with continues. Eric Holder, the US Attorney-General, has stated that they are pursuing an investigation to see if criminal charges can be laid against the WikiLeaks founder and all-round international man of mystery. On this side of the Pacific, the same is occurring with our A-G, McClelland saying there is an AFP taskforce set up to investigate whether charges can be laid.

Even our PM, Ms Gillard, claimed what Assange was doing was illegal, something that it appears may spark a defamation suit from the aggrieved Assange.

Sure, that’s all posturing and it’s necessary, but what is actually going on? Well if you’ve been keeping up with this fascinating story, you’ll have seen that WikiLeaks is getting DDoSed (distributed denial-of-service attack) constantly and has been forced to jump from server to server in order to stay up. There are two sides to this story. The first is the DDOSsing, it’s a bit of a nerd concept but it’s actually pretty straightforward. If you’re in a queue at say your local McCafe to partake in the great Australian pastime, you wait until its your turn and you get served. If say there’s a lot of people in line, the cafe will roll out staff and the queue will split. That’s how things normally work on the internet, people send a request to a server and get a response. Imagine that you crammed the entire population of NSW into this McCafe and had them all screaming at the staff to give them an order – nobody would get served. That’s basically the point. A DDOS is a kind of toddler reaction: “Well if I can’t have it, nobody can.” Though there are indications that the current DDOS comes from governmental sources, there is no real hard evidence to link them to the attacks. That’s the first half.

The second half is the political motivations of the companies that were initially hosting WikiLeaks. Under assault from this DDOS, WikiLeaks migrated to the biggest system on campus, Amazon’s cloud hosting environment. Not just a bookseller, Amazon operates one of the cheapest and easiest ways to host a heck of a lot of content and have the grunt to share it to millions of people. Amazon yanked WikiLeaks hosting a few days ago, under claims that they were in violation of the Terms of Service of the site. It would appear that Joe Lieberman had approached Amazon and castigated them for offering hosting to WikiLeaks. This is all part of the policy of making WikiLeaks’ information much harder to obtain and much harder to get access to.

This is the part in which the government is directly involved, attacking or threatening companies that provide support to the organisation to host the material.

An example of the information being made more difficult to get to is WikiLeaks’ DNS provider, EveryDNS, removing their record a few days ago. What this meant is that the URL to WikiLeaks wouldn’t resolve to the actual IP address that the server is. DNS is pretty much the phone book of the internet, you look up the person you want and the DNS advisor returns their number which is managed all transparently by your web browser. The vast majority of domain names you would purchase or use come from ICANN, which is run by the US. For domains to resolve, generally, there are several root or main servers scattered across continents that provide the ‘record of record’ so to speak.

This aspect of the current DNS system has lead Peter Sunde (of piratebay fame) to suggest a new TLD (top level domain, like .com or to be created by those wishing to make the system more robust. Ideally it would be called .p2p and it would involve people wishing to use it or promote it install a piece of software that would run in the background, creating a huge mesh of people that would share records with others. Think of it as a giant game of Chinese whispers but where the information isn’t corrupted as it’s propagated.

You’d think with their domain name gone and their site constantly under attack that would be just about the end of it for WikiLeaks, but it isn’t for one very simple reason, the Streisand effect. Named for whom you would expect, the Streisand effect is the concept that, online, attempts at censorship or stopping the flow of information only increases the interest in that information and due to the digital nature of the content, propagate it everywhere. Knowing that they were under assault, WikiLeaks created a ‘mirror program’, where you could submit a few details giving them admin access to a server you owned and they’d copy a complete mirror of the site over to it if necessary.

The fact that there are now over 300 mirrors and counting, shows that the Streisand effect is now an unstoppable force online.

As Mark Pesce said in his article earlier this week, this is just the start of things to come. The current WikiLeaks fiasco has pointed to many weaknesses in the overall infrastructure of the protocols and technologies that bound together, make the internet you’re reading this on. The current incantation of WikiLeaks is just the alpha test of a technology and framework that will make not just the viewing and access to leaked information something the government will be unable to police effectively, but also the leaking of that information even more secure.

All talk that this will set back whistleblowing several decades is pabulum. If anything this current situation has proven quite effectively that there is a place to send leaked and confidential information to that will review it and will make sure it gets media attention. You no longer have to rely on the efficacy of governmental processes or whistleblower protections, you can anonymously and confidently send confidential information to WikiLeaks without fear of it being traced back to you. WikiLeaks protects its sources with a fervour and passion that seems to be leaving the journalistic field.

If anything the attention placed by the world’s media on this process is identifying that the process needs to be made even easier so more information of vital importance can be brought to light.

Whilst still gestating and developing, what we have seen created with WikiLeaks is a secure framework for the submission of confidential or secret information that indicates malfeasance on the part of either governments or private companies. Obviously in response to this increased threat, companies and governments will be performing security audits and making the transfer of information far more difficult, but this also means they will be spending more time making information secret, and thus will have to choose more carefully what information they decide should remain secret.

The power of WikiLeaks though does not come from its secrecy or the new technologies that are being baked into the web to make it easier and more robust to share information securely, no, the core power of WikiLeaks is you. Whether you’re a government employee who has found documents that identify corrupt acts by those in power, or a private sector employee who discovers emails indicating fraud has been performed, if you are a person of moral decency and a sense of right and wrong the impetus is upon you to share this information. WikiLeaks can only do its job if brave men and women risk fines and imprisonment to make information that needs to be free, free. It’s getting safer and easier to transfer this information to people who will spill the disinfectant of sunlight across corporate and government malfeasance.

It’s up to you to leak it. It’s up to the geeks that build the technologies that power the internet to take on this challenge and shape our fledgling darling into something so robust and so wholly independent from government influence that it provides the perfect platform to speak truth to power.


December 8, 2010

Don't shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange

by admin

Related articles:

Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

Assange: charges are part of campaign to close down WikiLeaks, he vows to fight extradition

“We Liberals strongly support Julian Assange and the democratic spirit and meaning behind his Wikileaks, as we have continuously been arguing and advancing for core liberal democratic values such as, independent approach,  free will, freedom of thought and expression, citizen’s empowerment especially via access to information, transparency, accountability, the rejection of old divine beliefs of secrecy (classified information) and people’s participation in the state affairs”

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

Mr Assange is in custody in Britain facing extradition to Sweden. (Time magazine)

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

December 6, 2010

Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

by admin

I endorse the following petition by the Reader Supported News (RSN) and express my dissatisfaction with the timing and the veracity of charges levelled against Julian Assange.

On behalf of progressive, anti-establishment Pakistani bloggers, I am writing this post as an expression of our full support for Julian Assange and his right to free speech. We commend his services towards exposing the neo-colonial Empire of the USA and the network of its stooges around the world in particular its military servants in Pakistan and monarchical servants in Saudi Arabia. (Abdul Nishapuri)


We here undersigned express our support for the work and integrity of Julian Assange. We express concern that the charges against the WikiLeaks founder appear too convenient both in terms of timing and the novelty of their nature.

We call for this modern media innovator, and fighter for human rights extraordinaire, to be afforded the same rights to defend himself before Swedish justice that all others similarly charged might expect, and that his liberty not be compromised as a courtesy to those governments whose truths he has revealed have embarrassed.

In earnest support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

You can sign the petition at the following link:

In Support of Julian Assange
November 27th, 2010
Source: Thomas Davis

I have wrestled with this concept for some time; that of the full openness of Wikileaks; of publishing, without restraint, all of the materials they have. Wikileaks has put on the internet, for the entire world to see, so many state secrets and embarrassing documents that the world governments are virtually conspiring to silence him (bringing into reality the far-fetched fiction of novelists and psychotics). Is Julian Assange a visionary or an anarchist?

Many of his friends and supporters have abandoned him. He has been labeled a fugitive by Sweden for sex crimes – Sex crimes in Sweden!? – one of the only countries able to do so without it looking like retaliation for his postings. Julian Assange has been blamed for the suggested deaths of honorable patriots from leaked information of enormous quantities. He is a renegade in a modern world where such a notoriety is all but obsolete.

Yet, Julian Assange has stayed the course. He lives like a paranoid conspiracy theorist and alien abductionist combined into one neurotic soul – with good cause. The world is out to get him. The powers that be can’t silence him so they influence others to, they have made numerous imagined attempts to either make him unstable or appear so, to get him to question his own course, to get him to throw in the towel as not being worth the trouble.

I’ve read the articles damning his actions and their results. I’ve seen reports on some of his (supposed) results. I’ve felt the fear rise as I imagined being in his shoes (I don’t know how he does it). I’ve also felt the conviction with which he is empowered. Most of all I have tried to balance all the goods and evils of his work.

I decided against what he does as being a “good thing” for the world today. It took a while but that was the position I came to. And I don’t come to any position lightly.

One of my greatest angst of the day is that people take positions on every topic, from the guilt or innocence of the latest felon in the news to the agenda of congress or the White House, by listening to others’ opinions, whether it be columnists or talk show hosts. Rarely does any of the proletariat consider or even apprise themselves of the facts before forming an opinion or taking a position. Most of the average people in this country allow others to think for them. I point to the working class as the more educated tend to give more consideration to the facts but they too are subject to this lethargy of idealism just a bit less so.

But it kept at me, this basic concept which must be driving Julian to keep at it. I considered that we all need secrets and even need to tell lies at times. Much of these same fundamental ideas are the same as those advanced and propitiated in support of positions to stop his work. The hardest retorts are those that claim patriotic lives are lost, that good men and women serving their country are killed from his “childish idealism.”

I came to a point, in my considerations, where someday – I always love those “someday” arguments; their such a cop out – his views would be relevant. We imagine a perfect world, someday, where governments hold no secrets and actually existed for the good of the people, where kindness and brotherhood are more than words in poems and great quotes. As I indicated the problem with these someday arguments is that they are both an admission of what is right and an excuse for denying it.

With hesitation, I understood Julian Assange is doing the right thing. He is persisting on a course that most others would have abandoned long ago. Julian Assange is a true world changer, one of those great souls that are chastised in their own time. Some time in the future historians will look back at his efforts and mark him as one who had great affect on the course of history. Much is left to be written yet but he shall, will, and has inspired others to follow in his path. Even as those supporters of his jumped ship more boarded, albeit silently and without his knowledge, but on board they are. Julian has began writing a new book, one that has many volumes and one that will have many contributors. The time of governments keeping secrets has reached its peak and is now on a downward slope.

What is needed is more of those brave souls that broke the secrets to WikiLeaks. More from other countries, especially. I ask what if the leaks came from Iran, China, or any other of our world’s current antagonists instead of the US and its allies, what if the information was highly useful to our governements? Would the wave of opposition to Julian be so full spectrum? He would be a hero (and probably have been assassinated). By doing what he is doing he inspires others to break their codes of silence and expose the dirt that keeps them up at night.

Keeping WikiLeaks up and running gives new hope in Someday. Julian Assange is one person to finally ask the obvious question that’s been hanging right before our eyes and yet no one saw it, Why can’t someday be today?