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Wikileaks, Ethics and Transparency

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Death Rabbit, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    The law usually only comes into sex as far as what constitues consent. After all, much pedophilia is 'consensual' by the strictist definition. It's only the part where the law says that a 5-year-old can't give consent that changes that. I imagine it will turn out to be something similar here. If consent was contingent on a condom (that's not how I read it, but it is a possible interpretation), then the second case is rape, but the first still sounds like trumped up charges to me.

    My disagreement with this is based primarily on the precept of 'remove the log from your own eye before you try to take the splinter out of your brother's eye'. If we're talking true corruption, especially anything that threatens the people of the society in question (i.e. if Enron's corruption had been revealed ahead of time), I have no problem with them revealing it. If the American people have any vested interest in knowing these things, then we should know. Some things, though, (like the extent of our spying) are things that shouldn't come up. The American people in general probably know already that we spy on allies and enemies alike, and anyone who doesn't just isn't paying attention. I'm sure the UK is spying on us, too. That's what nations do. That's how the international community works. Telling everyone exactly how one group spied doesn't help the American people any, and doesn't actually help the other nations very much, either.

    I think you may be misusing the term 'whistleblower', but I'm not sure what the right term is. Exploiters, maybe? Tabloids? Except they usually just lie.
     
  2. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    I have a feeling we agree on this pretty much.

    I also want to point out for those who are getting their info off an internet site supposedly "managed" by one of the women in question that Assange is a master computer hacker and was found guilty and convicted for just that. I would take any internet site regarding him, or the women in question, with a grain of salt.
     
  3. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    OK, now that you qualify it that way, I see your point. That's not exactly how I would define the term whistleblower. Usually it's used to refer to someone who sounds the alarm against wrongdoing (and is usually a subordinate in the organization involved in the wrongdoing), even though the person in question knows he might be retaliated against - or at the least lose his/her job. Just like CtR said. I wouldn't classify Assange as a whistleblower, because he isn't giving a first person account of anything - he wasn't personally involved in any of the reported situations.
     
  4. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    It appears that the Obama administration, foolishly, ponders prosecuting Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act. A harebrained idea, that IMO owes more to conservative pressure to be tough on Wikileaks than to reason. The best gun the administration has is the (probably unconstitutional) 1917 Espionage Act, infamously used against dissenters in the World Wars???

    There has been this shrill and persistent call especially from conservatives (like Mike Huckabee)to have him assassinated, thrown into Guantanamo Bay etc pp (and indeed, why not torture him as well, naturally before having him drawn and quartered!). The point is: Why? Did Assange break any US laws? The answer, it appears, is an petulant, imperious mindset along the lines of: Who cares! Off with his head!

    Former Bush administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith (who then had the good sense to essentially point out to his peers that torture is highly illegal and a stupid idea) comments:
    More grown-ups in the US see it that way.

    Ron Paul also has a couple of reasonable comments on Assange and Wikileaks, most notably that Assange did not break any US laws, nor was he as an Australian citizen working from out of the US in any conceivable way obliged to not do so. That's so basic that it cannot be mentioned often enough.


    PS: I see Obama setting up himself for another self inflicted wound. If he yields to conservative pressure and to folks like Liebermann and prosecutes on such a weak legal basis, thus risking failure, he will not get rid of Republican criticism. Considering how far out and extreme in their rhetoric some of the Republican pols and pundits are, Obama will always do to little.

    PPS: An old, leaked, Bush era DIA document lining out the US strategy on how to cripple Wikileaks. Full report here. There is notable continuity in the Obama administration in this regard.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2015
  5. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    OK, Ragusa, a hypothetical for you: If the connection could be made to any dead soldier and the stuff Assange leaked, what options would the US do then. The way I see it, he would then be a foreign national who is acting against the legitimate interests of the US. Extradition may be impossible, but surely there must be some tool in their arsenal should such a consequence come from Assange's activities?
     
  6. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Please LKD. The current conservative outrage about the bad bad consequences of Wikileaks is quite selective. First, apparently people in DC leak all the time. That's for instance whenever you read of those 'senior administration officials' in the newspaper. Or think of the intriguing statement that channelling secret information to Israel was a major part of the job when working at AIPAC. Famously, one of Dick Cheney's henchmen, Scooter Libby, wasn't content with just violating secrecy laws when leaking the real identity of Valerie Plame, but added perjury. It's exacerbated by blatant over-classification. I recall, under Bush they, hilariously, even made things secret again that had been in the public domain for years.

    I recall that the Bushies in the 9/11 commission hearings testified that the US could tap Al Qaeda's phones, leading to them stopping to use them. Arguably, that has helped kill some people. Why is nobody calling for their heads?

    When the NYT reported that US troops in Iraq were complaining about unarmed Humvees, that may have helped some more dimwitted insurgent (who wasn't already doing that) by telling him that attacking unarmoured vehicles is easier than attacking armoured ones; that might have killed some US troops as well. Shall we now ban the NYT from reporting on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

    Arguably, in leaking the Pentagon papers the infamous leaker Daniel Ellsberg violated secrecy laws, to reveal to the public that the Tonking incident never happened as originally told, much less provided a casus belli, exposing that Vietnam had been a war of choice. In doing that he did the public a great service, allowing them to discuss some of the the facts about the Vietnam war as they were, not as the administration wanted them presented.

    How is Wikileaks any different?

    You fail to accept two things: (a) that one can always construct a hypothetical case to classify something, (b) make a case to punish someone for possible adverse consequences for his actions, (c) that freely available information in a free society can be used to many ends, good or bad, and in particular (d) that the Pentagon admitted that Assange's leaks did not cause soldiers to die.

    Considering that Assange was wiki-leaking their secrets, they'd have made the case if they could, and apparently they can't.
     
  7. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    You'll note my use of the word if. I am well aware that as of this writing, no deaths have been linked to Assange's leaks.

    But what I am seeing in your posts, and correct me if I'm wrong, the US has no mechanism to deal with someone who is, for all intents and purposes, a foreign spy. He may not be spying for a foreign country, but he is accessing classified documents. I just can't believe that legally speaking there is no mechanism to deal with a foreigner who is acting against a nation.
     
  8. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    IMO, it's not the foreigner who is the problem; it is expected foreigners will attempt to gain useful information. The problem is the processes and procedures that allowed the information to leak.
     
  9. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I personally do not believe Assange is doing anything out of the ordinary for a member of the press (I do use the "member of the press description" quite loosely here). IIRC, he did not access the documents himself and he did not break into a secure system -- he simply published what was given to him (I could be wrong here, though and he would be only liable in the same way any other hacker would be). The people at fault are the one who gave him classified information (they should be prosecuted).

    I would hope Assange would realize the difference between exposing stupidity on the part of government (which I have no problem with) and putting people in extremis. If he does the latter he should be prosecuted.
     
  10. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    OK, I'll recast the question -- Let's say that I hack into the Pentagon and uncover classified documents from there.

    What Ragusa seems to be saying is that the US can't touch me because I am not a US citizen and therefore I have done nothing wrong. Now, I obviously have not committed treason, but surely the US has some sort of mechanism for dealing with that sort of behaviour.

    I know that as of now Assange is not being accused of hacking into a US system, but I am still confused as to the US's options regarding foreigners accessing delicate / confidential data.
     
  11. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I would say, he should be prosecuted if he committed a crime. If he didn't, leave him alone ffs.

    LKD,
    as T2 rightly points out, Assange has very probably not broken any US laws. Whatever he did, he did not on US soil. He didn't steal the documents. He didn't incite the theft of the documents. Manning came to him. So what do you want to punish Assange for? Only because people ***** and moan and don't like it it isn't a crime. Having to suffer things one doesn't like is the inconvenient flip side of a free press and freedom of speech. What's so bad about that all of a sudden?
    I say what he did was legal, thus he committed no crime he could reasonably be prosecuted for.
    (a) There are thousands of foreigners foreigners accessing delicate / confidential US data around the world. Many sit in intelligence services, others in for profit companies. No reason to bomb them. This is normal. Wikileaks only makes such data broadly available to everybody with internet access. Despite that, the world keeps rising the morning.

    (b) As for options, well, they have. If they were Ceaucescu's Securitate or Saddam's Mukhabarat or the Mossad they might just murder Assange. Since for the US that won't fly (if Assange was Al Qaeda it would), they go after his ISP, servers, money, reputation and the like. Read that DIA document I linked to this morning. That should give you the broad idea.
     
  12. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Surely you would be done for hacking, and the US would make a request to extradite you, if they believed the crime was serious enough to spend the resources on. As you point out, this is different between receiving the information that someone else has used illegal means to obtain.
     
  13. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Fine. If he puts people in extremis then deal with him "with extreme prejudice" -- I'm not as concerned about putting him in jail as preventing others from following down that path. Note that I have not made any distinction about who he puts at risk (or what country they come from).
     
  14. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    When speaking of 'preventing others from following down that path' you do not, by any chance, mix up Manning and Assange?
     
  15. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    Everyone keeps on focusing on Assange. I'm more curiuos about what is going to happen to the guy that they believe is responsible for the leaks. Any possibility of the death penalty for treason?
     
  16. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    No. I wouldn't put Manning in that category. I really think Manning should serve a relatively light sentence. The people I would rather prevent are those who would give out information compromising a person or unit in the field and put them in extremis.

    TGS: No. The information leaked was embarrassing but not critical. The public would never stand for the death penalty (not even Walker got the death penalty).
     
  17. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Snook,
    :lol: treason? Are you serious? :lol: The biggest of all crimes? George Washington, and every founding father were traitors. When did you last read that article three of your constitution? "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." The 'only' kind of narrows it down significantly. Trying Manning for treason? Riiight. So Manning gave aid and comfort to the enemy, levied war against the US, by leaking that US diplomats see the German foreign minister Westerwelle as a pompous idiot (which is accurate, and he won't get any less obnoxious knowing that) and Putin as an 'alpha dog' (he's probably flattered). It stands to reason that that's not treason. Not even by a stretch. Get some fresh air. Take a walk in the woods.

    Manning's violations of secrecy laws suffice to put him into jail for a pretty long time, which incidentally is precisely what the government will plead for - but apparently there are some people out there who are just not content until they get a head on a spike, be it Assange's or Manning's. The punishment and charges must be equivalent their subjective (original or induced) outrage. Whether the charges then are reality based is secondary as long as they get that head. It's their aroused passion, not their reason that speaks. Which (i.e. the notorious flammability of passions) is probably the very reason why that article three is right where it is, written as it is. Just a point.

    Treason ... :rolleyes: The current anti-Wikileaks hysteria is in no way different than that absurd kerfuffle over Freedom™ fries* that swept the nation a couple years back. There are people in the US who make a living by inciting such riots. I add to that crowd not just blovitating talking heads, but also folks who try to tout their 'conservative credentials' by calling for Assange to be kidnapped, tortured and/or murdered.

    Then, try to come to grips with what Manning did: A lot of the stuff he leaked was, while juicy, the stuff that would have been de-classified in thirty years for historians to write their diplomatic history books about. And indeed, in many cases the banality of the content suggests that this thirty year figure is already serious over classification. Manning ain't Ultraman and Assange is no Lex Luthor.
    * ... as if calling them French fries gave aid and comfort to the French (who incidentally are well aware of them being actually Belgian food). Freedom™ fries were an cretinously inane idea, that additionally was based on a misconception - but that wasn't the point for those that coined the phrase anyway. They didn't speak to reason. But I wonder, has some grown up out of sheer embarrassment ever bothered to name them back?
     
  18. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    Bizarrely, I agree with Ragusa pretty much completely. I would like to point out that, had Manning given the war info to someone less circumspect, he may have been eligable for treason. I don't know if giving indirect aid counts. If he had given the war documents to someone whom he knew was connected to the enemy, then that would definitely amount to treason. The reason I say this is because the info he put out wasn't edited for identifying information. Sources and informants were named. It's only Assange's (and his group's) dedication that prevented that same info from hitting the web. Maybe Manning knew about that, maybe he didn't. I didn't at the time, but then I wasn't about to hand classified info over to them.

    Anyway, Manning deserves hard time. Assange I'm not so sure about what he does deserve, but he certainly doesn't deserve hard time. I think he could be charged with posessing classified information (even though he's not a US citizen or on US soil; most nations work that way as I understand it).
     
  19. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Bizarre indeed. I have noticed that in some other recent threads as well. I am not sure whether I should be concerned or satisfied you see reason at last. Have you been struck by lightning? If not, what are you up to?
    I doubt that. Treason is a deliberately narrow criminal offence, and I can't see what Manning did meeting it. Heck, not even Robert Hanssen or Jonathan Pollard, the most notorious spies in the US in more recent history were charged with treason, but espionage - and the former directly gave intel to an enemy, and the latter to a supposed ally. I stress that because, unlike Manning, they did very significant and lasting damage. Manning is not in their league, not by a long shot.
    Which means Assange is not exactly a villain worth assassinating, and not the irresponsible privateering information anarchist, as wing raving has it. He is essentially a specialised web publisher, and edits as any publisher would.
     
  20. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. That's the idea, isn't it? So his punishment should clearly be to have his personal cables published online. It's a no brainer really. I can see the headlines now - "Taxi driver called pompous idiot - feeling deeply hurt"
     
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