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"Infowar," Wikileaks & Payback

Cyberlibertarian John Perry Barlow debates bigfoot diplomat John Negroponte on Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds up a court document after he was released on bail, outside the High Court, London, Dec. 16, 2010. (AP)

By Tom Ashbrook

Wikilieaks founder Julian Assange has been released on bail in London. But he’ll hardly be free: ankle bracelet; daily check-in; passport surrendered. He can’t leave the U.K.

It’s another move in what John Perry Barlow, cyberlibertarian and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has famously called the world’s “first serious infowar.”

Stolen data. Data dumps. Web site attacks and counter-attacks. Huge stakes, hardball tactics, and a very real battle over information. Barlow, who has rallied the cybertroops, says there’s about to be a “fairly radical” escalation on those fronts.

But on the other side, of course, there are the interests of nation states.

John Negroponte, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence, says the government must win this battle. He says that there have been “casualties” already; that America needs friends more than ever; and that there’s no such thing as a public right to “instant” transparency.

We hear the high-level “infowar” debate.

Attorney General Eric Holder as he discussed WikiLeaks, and supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London, Dec. 2010 (AP Photos)

Guests in this segment:

John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Net freedom activist.

John Negroponte, longtime U.S. diplomat who served under President George W. Bush as Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Deputy Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Iraq. He is currently a lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a consultant with the international risk analysis firm McLarty Associates.

Fred Cate, director at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, where he is also a professor at the Maurer School of Law.

Related: Hear On Point’s shows on “Cyber Threats, Google  & the NSA” and “Unmasking ‘Ghostnet.’”

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  • Al Dorman

    (Boston, MA)
    Fantastic get, Mr. Barlow. I can tell you I’m really tired of hearing the MSM blindly taking the government’s position on Wikileaks. Journalists should be interested in the truth and ask officials about the leaks, not whether or not the leak should have happened. Pathetic.

  • Yar from Somerset

    Is wiki-leaks going to become the “I didn’t inhale” for our next generation of political leaders? Data is collected on your activity online, is it possible that participating in wiki-leaks now will follow you in the future?
    Government security clearance,military commission, or a job with a multinational corporation may be influenced by your actions of the moment.

    What value have we gotten from the release? For the most part our employees are doing their job. That should be reassuring. I really don’t want to look at everything in the sausage.

    Look at the cost benefit, unless your career is investigative journalism, I suggest leaving the stuff alone. Don’t download the files, don’t participate in retaliation, don’t become a target.
    Don’t inhale!

  • Nick from Massachusetts

    I find the media – including NPR – complicit in going after Julia Assange. The sex charges are totally ridiculous and I have not found a news outlet that has described them as simply not wearing a condom.


    Over and over, we hear the brief “Sexual Charges” but never the level of them or description which I believe is purposeful by the media INCLUDING NPR. The only guest speaker I have heard has been David C. from Mother Jones.

    Shame on the media – shame on NPR as well.

  • Sasha Drugikh

    And why not a word now from John Negroponte, the ambassador to Honduras during Reagan’s CIA-financed “Contra” terrorist war on Nicaragua? I wonder why he might rather have conducted his taxpayer-funded terrorism in private, perhaps classifying as “Confidential/NOFORN” every bribe and gun shipment and “Secret” every local concern about our “secret operating cells” and “mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents” there.

  • http://bruceguindon.com bruce guindon

    keep the eye on the truth and the light of it will change the world for the better
    Assange and Wikileaks are excuses for taking our freedom away. The real moron and threat to national security is the US government. Who in business would have such lapse security and allow one low grade handler full access to that much security without oversight. My guess is that the people who are running the Governments security are bureaucrats who know very little about computers as is usual for the military

  • justanother

    Sex Charge is really an excuse to arrest this man.

  • Larry

    Americans. Remember this. You have all the freedom you want in this country…to shop.

    Other than that shut up and do what the criminal and corrupt authorities want you to do: accept their complete authority over this country.

  • Louis Marchand

    I have visited the US last summer. I’m from Quebec. To me, the US doesnt look as if they are fighting 2 wars and I suspect that to most people, aside from families who have service members, they dont feel at war. Moreover, the governement does not use any sort of propaganda such as the “Loose lips sinks ships” and having any sort of “Home-front”.

    I appreciate honesty as much as the next person but in a time of war, this is absolutly dangerous to do what wikileaks has done even if the info is, at best, diplomatic gossips…

  • The Ghost of “Red Channels”

    Joe Lieberman is a private citizen. But his speechifying about Amazon (or any other company) hosting Wikileaks is chilling, like another private citizen/US Senator, in the early 50s.

    Nice to see one of my Senators learned something from the Red Scare.

  • yoda

    The ONLY way for the government to properly solve their problem is to do some actual long-range planning and figure out how to function in a future where all information they gather or generate is public.

    Most government agencies, and especially the intelligence community won’t like that AT ALL, but it’s the only true alternative to crisis-response after crisis-response after crisis-response after crisis-response forever more.

  • BHA – Vermont

    Why is Mr. Assange NOT facing charges on possession of stolen property?

    Free speech does not mean you can release stolen written property whether you stole it or someone else stole it and gave to you.

    It means you can say and write whatever you like (shy of inciting a riot) whether it is true or not.

    It is up to someone else to sue for slander or libel if they can prove your statements have harmed them.

  • Larry

    And why not a word now from John Negroponte, the ambassador to Honduras during Reagan’s CIA-financed “Contra” terrorist war on Nicaragua? I wonder why he might rather have conducted his taxpayer-funded terrorism in private, perhaps classifying as “Confidential/NOFORN” every bribe and gun shipment and “Secret” every local concern about our “secret operating cells” and “mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents” there.
    Posted by Sasha

    Can you believe criminals like this walk free in America?

    Just one example of thousands of how corrupt this country is.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    If Private Bradley Manning came to NPR with secret digital records dating back to 1967 (however that happened), would NPR scoop it up, consult with the Pentagon, and pay him?

  • Zeno

    In our government everything is for sale. It is ironic that our government is surprised by dishonesty, corruption, stupidity and motivations based on profit!

    If everything is for sale, then EVERYTHING is for sale.

  • Mari McAvenia

    If the public does not have “the right to know” where does that place journalists? Do journalists have the obligation to lie in the service of protection to governments?

  • ross falzone

    We have to run the country on truth and if that is messy so be it
    the alternitive is secrets nd lies that lead us in to unnsessary wars

  • angel

    Ok so I get that the world sees the sex charges as a cover but we can not forget that this is what the british court is going off of not his wikileaks work. I think it is inportant to not combine the two.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Does Negroponte concede that at the outset of America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, the new organizations were NOT getting the real information needed to the people here who would need to know? Us?
    Yellow cake? I STILL do not know LOTS AND LOTS of basic info.
    Then came the Abu Ghraib. Official news media did NOT help all that much, not in time.

  • Jim

    John Negroponte = war criminal!

  • Larry

    Criminals run America. Makes you so proud to be one.

  • ThresherK

    The EFF, sure. But John Negroponte is the sound of a barrel being scraped. Nobody better, nobody with a less-checkered past available? His very presence undermines anything he’d like to posit.

  • Christoph

    Mr. Negroponte, your old way of doing business is doing nothing to make this country or the world any safer. Wikileaks has come forward to say the world of secrets is doing nothing but propping up a system that supports assassination, human rights abuse, and other unacceptable forms of governance.

    The reason for this failure is your closed-source method of information gathering and decision modeling. These are people who are proposing a new way forward: Open-source governance.

    You may think its of no concern, you may think its evidence of war crimes. The fact is, its information and we the people who have commissioned its gathering have every right to know that information. Of course, this opposes your model, so you must harden against it. Your counter-productive responses will be your undoing.

  • Potter

    We have a right to know and a responsibility to be informed in a democratic society. Would that our governments tell us the truth. Would that our leaders be so knowing and wise about policy, or working for the benefit of the people.

    I am with John Perry Barlow regarding the need for public oversight. It does seem that our ruling class likes the wall between us and no accountability. Obama’s need to move forward without examining the crimes of the previous administration is exhibit A.

    Exhibit B are the issues regarding the wars we are now conducting and might conduct into the foreseeable future.

    Boylston MA ( listening online mostly)

  • http://netzero.net David Jamison

    I hope this gets on air. Mr Negroponte completely misses the point. I am about as old as he and have “played” in some of the same pools. It is the stupidity of placing the information on the internet instead of sending it by the old, much more secure, means.

    It is well-known that the internet is a leaky sieve, the example of the NSA having been hacked by young teenagers.

    The second point has been made by a great number of people. Is it two million people who have access to this information? If so it is not secret, let alone secure.

    It is the United States in all its forms of government which has failed, if indeed it is the case that a junior army private was able to download it all.

    Lastly, Mr Barlow is so right. It is extra important for this sort of information to be public because of the frighteningly pathetic amateurishness of pretty-well every American action in world affairs. The US has had, now, nearly a hundred years since its gross isolationism in which to learn some sophistication and subtlety in foreign affairs, but its system of governing itself means a whole new team of ill-educated children are given the important jobs every time there is a change of Administration.

  • Zeno

    No right to know? Secrecy is poison to democracy.

    “The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.” -Justice Hugo L. Black

  • ML GM

    Here they go again the party of “freedom” wanting their freedom to keep us the people in the dark so they can conduct their dirty business with immunity.
    Who gives Negroponte credence? His hands are so tainted with blood! Who is he kidding? Not me.
    Longlive Wikileak!

  • Patrick Lowell, Ma

    As a computer professional who regularly does security auditing and works with sensitive data, if the government was half as capable in securing their networks and data as they were in spreading fear uncertainty and doubt, I would be out of a job.

    The level of incompetence they demonstrate at the implementation level does not match up with what they claim to be demanding at the executive level. The private sector shows a similar disconnect, but with their boards preferring to slide under the radar when there are security problems, you see less grandstanding in the media after security events.

  • Larry

    The secret doings of the criminals who run America.

    Why wouldn’t they want that kept secret?

    I can see why you invited Negroponte to defend that side. His secrets run red with blood.

  • Joe

    There is a hypocritical element in the arguments of many of the supporters of WikiLeaks. On one hand they praise the actions of Assange and on the other hand condemn the release of the ‘ClimateGate” emails as being “stolen”. Wow! What a double standard. The anti-Constitution progressives do not place any real value on free speech. All they want protected is the speech that supports their ideology. Any opposing viewpoints must be vilified and quashed at any cost … even at the cost of the First Amendment.

  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/14/wikileaks-internet Greg from Connecticut

    This is Generation Wiki, where we share everthing on Twitter and Facebook. This is the information age. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/14/wikileaks-internet

  • Felipe

    WikiLeaks is as credible as its source of information.
    If there can be doubts about the government, then there can be doubts about WikiLeaks. Assange is either an agent himself or an unwitting patsy. In either case, he is an effigy of activism as well as truthfulness in journalism to be put on trial & convicted by the media; to serve as an example. In a way, he has (& others whom he symbolizes have) already been found guilty as everyone assumes that what he published is true. Three questions remain: [1.] What or who is the government? [2.] Is it about what your government can do for you or what you can do for your government? and [3.] For what purpose(s)?

  • Steven

    We need Wikileaks to identify how our governments wastes so much of our tax dollars. More power to those that do that.

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    let’s go back 46 years. If Wickileaks had been around at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin revealing what was really going on there, would the American people have accepted the massive escalation of our military involvement that followed?

  • http://annemiecurlin.com annemie Curlin

    Imagine we had had wikileaks when the Downing Street memo was sent! That was the diplomatic memo between the USA and UK that suggests that the “intelligence gets fixed to show there was a threat of weapons of mass destruction”. It would have been a little harder to pull the wool over our eyes, maybe even not gotten us in the war.
    I in principle, there should be some diplomatic secrecy, but I feel our government has terribly abused this and lost credit.

  • Joe Giblin

    If Mr. Assange is a citizen of the world and thus has a right to interfere with the operation of this country or any other by leaking information, he is no different than a terrorist who feels he can blow something up in order to effect the operation of any government anywhere.

    In other words, we can’t each take this in our own hands. We must work with-in the system to make the changes we desire. A suicide bomber acts on his/her own, someone who leaks information labeled as classified is doing the same.

  • http://dispolemic.blogspot.com Stephen Marshall

    Burlington Vermont

    It is a citizen duty to counter the oppressive potential of powerful states with appropriate CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.

    Powerful people in powerful states are jealous of their prerogatives. Most of the angst over the leaks is about maintaining control. For the people, who must cope with abuses of power, any weapon that aims to frustrate the abuse and minimize harm to private citizens is justified and necessary.

    In the United States, this is not a right-left issue. People with roots in the left and the right worry about over-bearing government.

    Wiki-leaks is a product of too many secrets, secrets without merit as such. Were the documents being disclosed were dripping with danger to people, because the rest were already in the public domain, very few people would support Wiki-leaks.

    If we the people could not get information that is deemed secret, we could never trust the in-power sources of information.


  • http://Annemiecurlin.com annemie Curlin

    I just sent you a comment re the Downing Street memo but failed to let you know where I live: Charlotte, Vermont

  • Zeno

    I thought the comment about Assange only wanting to discredit and embarrass the US government was very funny. It was not written by him, he is only distributing the embarrassment.

    How could he possibly do more damage than the government itself has done in the past 30 years. LOL

  • David Clarksville, TN

    Negroponte makes a compelling argument for the need to keep diplomatic communications confidential, Asange is clearly a huge ego looking to be caressed. On the other hand it is interesting the scope of the information that was contained in the released material. Case in point, as the guardian.co.uk reports, the Obama administrations use of “spying, threats, and promises to aid to get support for the Copenhagan Accords” (on “Climate Change”) .http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord

  • Potter, Boylston, Ma

    That Assange is not an American is immaterial especially since what the US does have an effect on him and everyone else. Again Barlow is right on the money.

    Thanks for that little tidbit about, al-Gaddafi Tom but so what compared to the importance of knowing about or drawing attention to, all the rest? Certainly we don’t need the titillation.

  • dave

    He should not be arrested for communicating information that has been released. The more of this information that is released, the better relations would be actually. The only person who should possibly be in trouble is the employee who took the information and shared it.

    A “right to know” is dangerous. I hope I know what is being said about that concept, especially as it relates to something I am paying someone to do. Especially when they are shooting unarmed civilians and journalists in the streets while they are crawling around bleeding, or shooting up a mini-van with kids. Wikileaks provided this information (truth) and the government provided lies.

    That being said, you can not trust everything Wikileaks (or anyone else) is reporting – this is great, because now maybe people will use their own ability to use reason to make decisions.

    It is easier to fake blurry government footage than it is to shoot a Hollywood movie, right?

  • Vince

    Vince in Mufreesboro, Tn

    There has been no “harm” done, to imply so is illogical, and not based in truth. Prove it, or admit your statement is just more “fear” chanting. The US’s own actions the last few decades have more and more leaned towards a corporate-oligarchy and of great concern to us all. Expose it as much as possible, so we can see what is truly being done by our military and diplomats.

  • George

    Great, Cheney and his buddies expose a covert operative and Scooter Libby gets convicted of lying to the FBI. The real crime is never an issue. How much damage was done by that release of classified information. The hypocrisy in government is so thick…


    I am from Hartland VT.

    Ever since the Nixon administration the operations of the U.S. government have become more seccretive, and the actions taken in secret have become more abominable and dangerous to us and others on the planet. Had we had WikiLeaks during the Vietnam War the American public would have stopped it earlier, perhaps prevented it. If we had had WikiLeaks during the second Bush administration the White House wouldn’t have been able to mistrepresent intelligence to justify invading Iraq.
    If the diplomatic corps puts shameful and embarrassing information in writing, it is their fault, not WikiLeaks for exposing their shameful and embarrassing activities.
    WikiLeaks isn’t any different than a Newspaper or News Program – if information is leaked to them, they vet it and publish it. When you publish the actual documents, all you’re doing is removing the vetting step.

  • Ronald Johnson

    And let’s not forget the ongoing torture of Bradley Manning: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning/index.html

    RJ Lincoln, MA

  • Chuck

    Our targeting terrorists seems to actually be shooting up vans with kids, and unarmed journalists. We actually help produce terrorists because of what we do. We have military in over 100 countries. If the Chinese had a base in the US where they flew helicopters around shooting up your minivan and local reporter, would Americans get upset, and maybe try to fight it? YES!!

    There is government information that should be hidden for a while, but most of the time, we should know. We should especially know if some employee, or group of employees is screwing up. This is the fault of the government, not Wikileaks.



  • http://robin.acquard@yahoo.com Robin Acquard

    This leak is from an internet dictator. One person with all that power who is ignorant.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Negroponte is citing “need to know.” I cited that in my last post. The press is NOT always getting to voters what we NEED TO KNOW, if we go to war, believe in our values being supported (invasion of Iraq, treatment of Muslim prisoners in Iraq).
    If the press is somehow gagged and not engaging the populace where they need to do so, then Wikileaks is the only recourse. If your parents won’t tell you the lay of the land, you learn to snoop. I can’t think of another parallel.
    Last night David Letterman was discussing this with Rachel Maddow. He asked if she thought NBC had the truth more clearly than Fox News, and the two of them came up with some total fictions perpetrated on the American people by FoxNews. They evaluated Rush Limbaugh (she listened to him avidly when he was on the radio, lively and entertaining, but feels he tanked on TV; on Glen Beck, on Bill Reilly — Letterman had him on the other day; they disagree but get along). They both agreed that balloon boy was foisted on the news cycle but by the family in question, not by the press, except their gullibility.
    People wanting to glom onto the simplistic view of things is a problem. Negroponte said something that I probably misremember as 70% NOT wanting to know (to know too much) (anyway a couple of callers saying such), and Maddow had been saying the world is definitely more complex, and needs people “out there” more who can explain the world, whether or not they have a particular slant. We no longer can survive as well-oriented citizens with Walter Cronkite as father figure and that’s all.

  • Glenn smith

    Hi Tom, you haven’t yet mentioned just purchasing a simple cord to connect the PC to the television. That’s what I use and it works beautifully for 10 bucks.

  • http://AledaDigginsArt.com Aleda

    Negroponte’s final point that any “right to know” is satisfied with Congress’s power to hold hearings and take testimony from governmental actors is not reliable, because it is correct ONLY insofar as Congress chooses to exercise thorough oversight. (And who’s going to push Congress to exercise diligence if we the people don’t have access to pertinent information?) For example, Congress failed dismally to demand actual evidence of imminent threat from Saddam Hussein in the build up to the Iraq war; the Bush administration trusted no one to actually view hard evidence, relying instead on the persuasive power of Colin Powell’s show and tell assurances and collective Congressional peer pressure for all members to express their patriotism in the form of blank checks and blind faith in the Bush administration’s SUPER DUPER TIPPITY TOP SECRET FOR THE PRESIDENT’S AND HIS LOYAL CABINET’S EYES ONLY intelligence. I smelled that rat immediately out in Illinois, but watched as Congress held their noses and pretended it was fillet. So, no, Mr. Negroponte, the first protection of the public is openness, not Congress.

    I hate to quote Dr. Phil, but he’s right when he points out that “Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.”

  • ned chala

    Assange is about freedom!

  • Zeno

    I think the whole thing is an excellent example of the kind of blow-back a nation gets when forcing its hegemony as empire with the point of a gun on the rest of a world that simply does not want it.

  • Jack Shultz

    I’m commenting as a Canadian observer living in Montreal.

    Government secrecy in the US has resulted in a situation where the US government has involved itself in an endless series of wars since the end of WWII.

    The US has conducted wars in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, not to mention invasions of places such as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc…all at the expense of American taxpayers and the lives of the citizens of those countries targeyed by the US military.

    And what have Americans gained as a result of these wars and interventions? Their country is now trillions of dollars in debt, the social and physical infrastructure is frayed, the soil air and water polluted, and their basic human rights have been seriously compromised.

    Government secrecy very rarely serves the citizenry. It only serves to help cover up corruption, incompetence and malfeasance.

  • http://www.providence.edu/schoolofbusiness Dr Alli Nathan

    I would like to raise the issue of the role of the press (the 4th estate) in this & other such controversies to a more provocative level than is warranted…

    I am not condoning nor condemning the “wikileak” of information that has the potential to be sensitive and may be even incendiary…

    I am just raising the issue of the responsibility & the accountability of the 4th estate, especially one such as NPR…

    Leaks of this nature have occurred throughout the history of mankind…

    I am concerned with the use of terms such as CONFRONTATION, CYBER WARS, INTERNET WARS, etc., that add a dimension to an event that in the past would have been dealt with in a more diplomatic and less incendiary manner…

    Compare the nations & the citizens to a family with parents, kids, relatives, friends, etc. Not all information is shared amongst all. There are reasons for parents not revealing everything to the kids, for families not revealing everything to friends, for friends not revealing everything to friends…

    Information is indeed valuable, priceless and even precious…

    Information comes with responsibility and accountability…

    And, if a stakeholder (be it a kid or a citizen or friend or parent) comes across information not meant for his/her eyes…

    …he or she may find it (both the access and the information) amusing and revel in treating it as a piece of juicy but “gossip” material…

    …he or she may perceive it as evidence of lack of responsibility and / or accountability…

    Revealing such information can be motivated by a myriad of such reasons…

    The 21st century difference is the ability to spread the information fast and far across the globe and the ability of others to respond even faster and farther…


    WARS are FOUGHT between NATION STATES, not between the state & the citizen; not between the parent & the child; not between the family & the friend/s; not between the friends…


  • Michael from Utah

    Mr. Negroponte says that there are laws protecting certain information from the public, laws which were put in place by the people’s representatives in government. What is to be done when those representatives put such laws into place not to protect the American people, but to protect themselves from the scrutiny of the American people.

  • Matt Claypool

    I find it interesting to read comments about Assange’s ego, especially since there has been no real display of one on his part. However, for the last few weeks all you’ve heard on the television is “Is Assange a hero?” with later implications that he thinks of himself that way.
    Actually, the point of wikileaks is that it isn’t one person, because one person could never do everything they do.

    On a different note, I’m tired of the waffling on the part of the accusers when it comes to these documents. It’s interesting to hear one person argue both sides by saying that Assange should be put in jail (to death?) for his actions and then say that what is in the documents isn’t that big of a deal. Which is it?

    Also, terrorism is using terror to reach an end. What could possibly terrify the government? The truth.
    Every time I hear someone say the leaks are dangerous I want to shout. It isn’t the leaker who has done the damage. It is the perpetrator of the original event who caused the harm. [It's like a bank robber telling the cops who are chasing him that they are making it hard for him to get away with it.] In all, this shows that the US government does many backhanded, and sometimes downright illegal acts in the expectation that no one will ever know about them. That seems like really poor foreign policy.

  • http://www.mylifevantage.com/longerlife george riveros

    As you read all these comments, have you realized that most of the comments agree with Mr. Assange,? and we are happy that he is free. The Justice Department in England is not as corrupt the one in U.S.A. The world is celebrating freedom of Speech. The corrupt leaders are afraid that all “their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops,and their secret acts shall be revealed”.

  • jeffe

    NPR gets Mr. Negroponte on to discuss Wikileaks. This is hilarious. It’s kind of like having the late H. R. Haldeman on to defending Nixon’s actions on the Watergate scandal.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Dr. Alli Nathan at 12:17 posts about responsibility vis-a-vis confidentiality being breached, pointing to families that function well because children don’t have to know everything (my extrapolations here). Anyway, in a democracy, where decisions are made by ALL the grownups, it is important that ALL the voters be treated as adults. A big problem when a swath of people are depending on the government as breadwinner (Food Stamps, Public Housing, health care, Social Security, interstate highways, courts of law, schools), and don’t want to know how the sausage-factory-process goes that produces this.
    It is no longer enough to understand the United States, its government, its economy. Now that is intertwined with the global economy and the global ecology/environment, actually. And the response that frightens me in the USA is the need for “fast-food” information. People can be fed talking-points and conclusory flashpoints, and it is in the interests of the status quo to be able to shape perceptions in a “fast-food” manner.
    Education needs to teach students not only about competence in a field, but also about how to maneuver when you know full well that you don’t have the whole context (which we never will, wikileaks notwithstanding), that sometimes someone’s claimed expertise a kind of glorified near-sightedness, that wisdom does not come freeze-dried at your door by special delivery.
    Perhaps Assange’s point is similar to mine, that there are ALL SIDES OF ALL ISSUES being aired ALL THE TIME. The Fourth Estate, in its usual manner, can look through and see if there is something new and juicy, and we will be disappointed if there isn’t much.
    But the fact of there being an American audience ready to be led around by the nose like a horse with blinders on either side of its head to the left and to the right, that is the main difficulty. I don’t know what people elsewhere in the world expect.

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    The desire of governing bodies to secure the basis of their decision-making from the scrutiny of those they are intended to serve exists at all levels of government, as well as in all nations. Even at our local level, school boards and boards of aldermen seem to feel they require “executive session” to achieve this goal. Transparency is an issue at all levels and in all institutions, whether governmental, academic, corporate, et al.

    I will look forward to further revelations regarding the diplomatic shenanigans of the Chinese, the Saudis, the Iranians, the Israelis, the French, the Swedes, the Russians, and so on. Would you be surprised if embarrassments, if not criminal behavior, were revealed?

    The more we know about what our or other governments are about, presumably the more we can decide if we approve and want to cooperate.

  • buddhaclown

    If you say that some things should be secret, how do you decide what should be and what should not be secret?

    If you hire someone to make those decisions, but then that person isn’t allowed to ever tell anyone how they made those decisions, then the decisions themselves are secret.

    If we don’t know what is secret, and we don’t know why they are secret, and its illegal for anyone to tell us either . . . then how do we know we anything at all? It’s a complete blackout.

    The press is supposed to prevent this blackout from happening. The problem is, the mainstream press doesn’t seem to want to modernize and embrace the information age. The government is modernizing — that is what the Patriot Act is all about — and is finding ever more sophisticated ways of espionage and secrecy. But the press just seems run show after show whining about how the newspaper is a dying breed, and scratching their heads over whether Fox is real news or not.

    Then we get wikileaks, which is the ultimate form of free press ever experienced by humanity. Finally, raw, unadulterated truth — not the spin zone of Fox or the opinionated juggling act pretending to pass as objectivity of NPR. In the few weeks since this latest info dump there has been so many informative stories — each of which might have been headline news in the past — then I’ve ever seen. I feel informed, I feel the heavy burden of not being able to distinguish between conspiracy and fact starting to lift.

    Wikileaks is exactly the sort of free press expression humanity needs for an information age. A free press is what makes a democracy work. The problem is that we are entering an age of global democracy and the internet, and the old ways are not sufficient to counter the increased control corporate and governmental powers have through the power of the internet. Wikileaks is just the press catching up with the rest of what is going on in the world.

    Yes, people want to think conservatively and argue that wikileaks goes too far, that the old ways were better . . . but the problem is that the old ways don’t work anymore. No one trusts the media anymore, conspiracy theories are spreading like the plague, journalism is a dying art form, government and corporate powers are able to influence public opinion with such ease that they have us even disbelieving scientific facts, and the information we need just doesn’t seem to be reaching our ears.

    We need wikileaks, to prevent ourselves from collapsing into just another ethically mediocre state like Russia or China, where we tout our freedoms, but they don’t really mean anything.

    The fact that America and Americans are on the wrong side of this argument over the future of the freedom of the press just shows how we have already fallen as the moral leader in the world. We are more concerned with our fears than our hopes and dreams. You don’t get to keep the mantle of most powerful country in the world if your people aren’t living up to what such a standard requires.

  • Brett

    If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to leak that information on the Interwebs, did it make a sound?

  • John E

    Visibility needed?

    $25 billion divided among 6,600 of the richest families in the US? Who pays? Who serves? Who dies?

    If there is an entitled elite, how well have they served the country? Doesn’t look very good, does it?

    Do we really need to be protected from the knowledge that Social Security was set up as Insurance, and became a tax when the IOUs became too overwhelming? And now it is in Jeopardy because it has been wasted in futile wars that served little purpose other than to print more money and debase our currency.

    Without disclosure. Everybody’s money becomes nobody’s money and then is all up for grabs.

  • Charles U

    Sorry I missed this live show, as I would have called in with this question for the guests and especially John Barlow from the EFF.

    To me there is one notable caveat with the DDoS attacks that are going on in this situation, and how they potentially relate to Rights of Freedom of Speech and Peaceful Demonstration.

    Specifically the portion of the DDoS attacks that were triggered by individual persons that used a common tool to speak there displeasure, from their own personal computer, to the corporate or government entities.

    That very personal speech as a sole person stands in contrast to the distributed-DDoS that are controlled by criminal gangs and governments.

    A sole person, speaking out, with their own property. It’s an interesting constitutional issue and perhaps something that should be discussed as more speech moves to digital realms.

    Can Free Speech only be on the streets?

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    Wikileaks has caused 1 casualty.

    That Swedish cartoonist inspired something like 50.

    Can we stop wasting our time talking about being afraid and realize that that is how terrorists win?

    The goal is to eliminate all unnecessary censorship and that includes censoring each other with unjustified fears.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    I had a friend in college who went into the field of psychiatry because she saw a monetary opportunity: The rich did not feel entitled; they needed an enabler to help them understand that they ARE worth a lot more than their underlings.
    (What is wrong with this picture…)
    When John E asks what have the entitled elites done to deserve their position; “how well have they served the country,” it seems to me they are mostly convinced they have done spectacularly well. And in many respects this is true.
    The difficulty, it seems to me, is that along the way there becomes a detachment, and the habit of being in a position of authority and security (comparative security; a golden parachute is a parachute after all), it makes the spectacle of those outside of that safety zone seem inexplicable. You notice, and you “throw money at it” (tax money mostly), and you talk about teaching a man to fish versus giving him fish, so you throw money at schools. But then there are no jobs. I missed the OnPoint hour about creating your own self-employment, but I have done that very thing, and the world is designed around corporate “jobs,” not self-starters, especially not many who find themselves with many strikes against them (need I elaborate…), and no Golden Gate of the Unexplored West beckoning them.
    I’ll hear congresspeople holding forth as if they knew where the noncorporate, nonempowered constituents were “coming from,” and it can sound pretty enlightened. This makes it all the more difficult to parse out exactly why they may have been “sold a bill of goods,” first by their lobbyists, and then by constituents who have ALSO been persuaded by the lobbyists.
    It is no time to be satisfied with mere doctrine (left, right, or center), but I don’t blame the top 2% in a blanket sort of way. How many non-elites bought into the idea that the American dream was to own a home you cannot afford, thereby enriching the banks even whilst deducting that mortgage money on taxes? How many people bought into the idea that spreading out into suburbia and creating trash like veritable trash-machines would create unending utopia? Marketers, educators, psychologists and such enabled all of that. The enablers. Can information get us away from such distortions?
    A targeted approach by Wikileaks to go after the distortions that really are dragging the planet in dangerous directions could be really helpful. Australians, to my personal and limited experience, are among the best traveled people in the world. They will spend entire years taking a good look around. I don’t see a lot of travel books by them, but maybe instead they start to take a critical and constructive look. I’m sure the State Department can put up walls to protect diplomacy, but I think a new path is set for the Global Conscience to start to organize and exert itself.

  • David from Erie, PA

    Some who have looked at the cables have come to the conclusion that the information contained therein was too pedestrian to classify as Secret or Confidential in the first place – but they are wrong. These cables that seem almost unworthy of secrecy, in aggregate, can illuminate our government’s internal processes too much. In my view, the only responsible way to handle documents is to broadly place them into groups (Secret, Confidential, etc) and simply hold all documents of a given group for a set period of years, regardless of its content. The danger I see in large volume leaks like this isn’t the content of any one message, but the broader weaknesses it may reveal to America’s enemies abroad. An analogy – in WWII, the British cracked the “unbreakable” enigma cipher by analyzing routine weather reports – the knowledge that the Germans were sending weather reports on a regular schedule was enough to give the UK the upper hand in the decryption effort. Routinely keeping secrets (along with routine declassification) is just good policy.

  • David Michael

    The US free press no longer exists. I’m astounded when I see the US news and read news sites, they literally side with the government and overlook the real information that is news worthy in the leaks! War crimes, corruption is rampant in the government and all NPR and the rest of the establishment media, I include many neo conservative talk shows and Foux News fair and unbalanced, can talk about is the messenger and the game that goes along with that.
    I read in the foreign press are printing real news stories that comes from the information that WikiLeaks is publishing and their counter parts in the press!
    The information exposes not only our lying politicians and diplomats. but many European leaders as traitors to their countries, as they pay lip service to their public and then sell them out to global interests!
    You just can’t find these stories in this countries establishment media!

  • http://wbur.org Chad G.

    Just as wealth is created through the disparity of currency, power is created through the disparity of knowledge.

  • Bush’s fault

    Those who are dissatisfied with how our representative republic functions have the option of voting for hope and change or leaving.

  • Scott Settlemier

    I have a problem when the authorities have to search around for a way to prosecute someone who embarrasses them. That doesn’t look like a vengeance for justice to me, just a justification for vengeance. This country has to man up and withstand the minor embarrassment that such freedom of information brings. In the end I think such services are a force for good. We can’t treat it solely as it happens to affect us at the moment.

    Scott Settlemier
    Marlborough, MA

  • buddhaclown

    All Wikileaks has given us is news. Each story is the same type of story we might have heard from the mainstream news and good journalism. (How can someone say Wikileaks is not journalism, except by referring to outdated definitions of the profession?) If you are against Wikileaks, aren’t you against news?

    When people say Wikileaks crossed the line, or that they are against Wikileaks . . . does that mean they are against knowing that Chinese diplomats have expressed doubts about China’s continued relationship with North Korea? Or that they are against knowing that China was behind the cyber attack against Google? Or any of the other stories Wikileaks revealed?

    How can you be against Wikileaks and not be essentially against journalism as a whole fundamentally? Every story that came out through Wikileaks could have theoretically been revealed through more traditional methods — unlikely, perhaps, but the nature of these stories are essentially the same as the nature of stories we have always gotten from journalism.

    And when you say these stories place lives at risk, can’t that line of reasoning be applied to all journalism covering government and diplomacy?

    We’ve just let our government run two wars virtually free from any real oversight because traditional journalism is no longer up to the task. We ordinary citizens have really very little clue what is going on over there, why these wars are even being fought, and lack any real information that would help us to know whether we can feel morally OK with allowing our representatives to kill thousands of people and destroy lives in our name. All we can do is have faith in our government and hope they are doing the right thing. Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable placing your faith in the government if you actually knew the facts?

    Maybe it is time for humanity to become more conscious than the way we’ve always been (giving the government free reign when dealing with foreign entities). Maybe if we had more information, contrary to all hell breaking lose there would be less war, less corruption, less injustice.

  • Dave

    I love how US diplomats describe how Wikileaks it hindering their work. One question, exactly how well has US diplomacy being going since the 50′s, a raging success? Maybe if a few more people new what unethical stuff was going on in the background the US might not be fighting so many wars right now? And living in a culture of fear.

  • Pancake, over the shoulder reader in McAdenville, NC

    Mari McAvenia (above) asks in so many words,”What is a free press good for if it can’t tell informative secrets to the electorate?”

    Yar (near the top) warns all the young’uns they’re gonna taint their careers if they look at the forbidden leaks. He compares it to Bill Clinton smoking pot at Oxford. (I did not inhale that smoke.) Yar is concerned that monitoring of web habits can prove inhalation.

    Both of these concerned people have good points.

    My take is that being politically informed and having privacy are analogous to breathing in and breathing out. What would seem by legalese to be two separate rights are by life anatomy inseparable. You can’t exhale without inhaling. You can’t exercise your political interests without being secure in your person, body and domicile. Both areas are equally threatened, as much by business as by government. And when business shares with government the worst violations occur. I have come to believe we have the right to demand government protect these two inalienable rights by curtailing surveillance by business entities. Legally, much domestic government snooping is already illegal, and cannot be used in evidence.

    Having said this I heard an NPR story yesterday that informs us that every aspect of reading behavior on Kindle and other E-book devices is remotely reported and recorded. Yar is way behind the curve, because every lingering glance at a sentence or illustration can be shared. Being naughty by peeking at political cables is a relatively minor liability.

    Like I always ask people: “Whatcha gonna do about it?”
    We better do something soon.

  • Picks Burgher

    Julian Assange is merely the US Government’s scapegoat de jour. Did Assange steal the documents? No. A US Serviceman is believed to have stolen them. Did Assange display the documents to the public? No, the New York Times and other news outlets did. If the US Serviceman provided them directly to the news outlets, we’d be in the same situation.
    The real tragedy is that this leak is small change. REAL espionage has been occurring to such an extent that some analysts say the US effectively has no secrets anymore. Since most everyone seems to have forgotten: remember for instance that stolen plans to Obama’s presidential helicopter were found on Iranian computer networks.
    What is really happening here is that the US government wants to silence Assange for his political views, because Assange stands for openness. That’s considered a dangerous idea. This bears a frightening resemblance to China’s persecution of dissidents; most of whom are accused of subversion or violation of state secrets laws. The most peculiar parallel is between Liu Xiaobao and Assange; both are internationally recognized for their important work encouraging reform in superpower governments, both are arrested and persecuted with flimsy charges. Certainly there’s a pattern here, but I find it more frightening when it’s the US government trying to crack down on people primarily for what they think and say.

  • Mike

    Once again, as has most other coverage of this matter, fallen for the massive mis-direction being employed by the US Government. Wiki-Leaks was *GIVEN* the information by someone with access to it – they did not extract the information themselves. The real focus should be on the disastrous security practices in the government which allowed the disclosure of this mass of documents to anyone outside legitimate users. THAT is that massive crime – why isn’t that being discussed? Because allowing that to come to the fore would reveal the complete failure of the massive concentration of the security and intelligence apparatus post-9/11. As was common practice in the previous administration, another party was demonized to attract attention away from the real guilty parties. Wiki-leaks is the patsy for this episode.

    I expect more of On Point and NPR than to fall for this subterfuge, but i guess the ploy is working better than i had hoped.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Mike’s Freudian slip about how the subterfuge is working
    “…better than I had hoped” illustrates well how colonized our subconscious minds have become. I share the same possession, Mike.

    I like Pancake’s breathing analogy. Security in our person-inhale: Redressing our grievances-exhale. Thanks, I’ll remember that.

  • Robert Gesellchen Underwood Ia

    I just finished reading all 77 wikileaks comments and was pleased to know that I’m not the only person in this country that noticed the simulorties between how our goverment relates to Assange and China to Xiaobo.
    (ref: Picks Burghers comment on dec 16th)

    Tom, you could do an hour show on this topic alone.

  • joshua

    I have supported Assange. But now i’m starting to think it is all a set up by the US gov. Another false flag to event to stimulate fear and build the case for the new cyber-force branch of the military–so called “information terrorists” being shoved down our throats so they can gain full spectrum dominance and control us even more–control the Internet.

  • joshua

    Am I hearig this right? Am I misinterpreting these vile words.

    John negroponte–are you saying the gov. should have sovereignty over the internet and the human consciousness?! You people are so scary . i think you are a terrorist. Evil.

    This is supposed to be a GD democracy! Once upon a time I swore to defend democracy and the constitution against domestic enemies. The enemy are the corporate-forces and corporate aristocracy that has usurped our democracy and the US gov.

    freedom of press, freedom of speech.

    Assange is doing the job of the press–a free press is critical to freedom, liberty, and democracy. For this evil-fool to be saying the press has no right to publicize such things and that we the people should be kept in the dark is exactly what totalitarian fascist dictators and tyrants do–its exactly what china does.

    Innovation and prosperity is underpinned by freedom of information, freedom of speech and democracy.

  • joshua

    Louis Marchand–”but in a time of war”

    first of all-many Americans do not support your war there buddy, nor should we. The war is an act of terror against humanity. Its based on lies all the way back to 2001. Terror makes terrorists. i dont make an ally of my neighbor by mutilating his parents. peace will come when we lock up warmongers who rage and kill in the name of profit–the lords of war!

    We have something called a constitution in America that outlines our rights. As a veteran who served my corporations in war i vowed to protect the constitution against enemies domestic or foreign. The domestic enemy is the fascist movement in government and the foreign elements are the multi-national corporations and states that now have more rights than American citizen and the right to influence American vaudevillian-democracy. I betrayed my country by enlisting in an imperial fascist military controlled by disloyal corporations. These are the enemies.

    Democracy cannot exist in a matrix of secrecy. Get a grip!

  • joshua

    Im sorry my eyes must be tired and brain fried. Robert G-ignore my comment. i read it wrong. This stuff is making me crazy. And I also heard John Perry Barlow wrong. i thought he was John Negroponte–the war criminal. Sometimes we get in such a rage, we don’t stop to listen what is really being said.

    Anyway–free Assange! Free the government–it has been taken hostage by corporate fascists and troglodytes.

  • Evan Sperline

    So Assange meets with his team of lawyers, who record strategy, statements–even his confession to sex crimes–on laptops. Some genius manages to steal the electronic notes. I assume he and WikiLeaks supporters everywhere would be all for public release of the information even though it would lead to his conviction.

  • Pam

    A comment early on says NPR hasn’t outlined the charges against Assange. But actually, NPR’s “All things Considered” did detail the broken condom with one woman and his refusal to wear a condom with the other. And according to the Mother Jones article cited above, forcing sex on a woman in this situation IS against the law in Sweden. And I think this law is just, because a woman in this situation faces the possibility of pregnancy and/or contacting an STD.

    The women in question were apparently using some other birth control, because their concern was that Assange might have an STD. In any case, he persisted in having sex with them after they said no. I believe this can be separated from the whole issue of WikiLeaks, and the fact that he did this twice in a very short period of time is extremely important.

  • Jay

    Meanwhile, all the bankers who should be in jail are out spending our taxpayer monies on their high lifestyle…..while the country does in the
    dumpster. America looks more like a third-world country now.

    WHERE IS THE JUSTICE in letting them get away with stealing everyone’s home and putting people, and children, on the streets.
    WHAT is the matter with this Country. If Obama is afraid of the elite, let him get out of the way.

Sep 18, 2014
Flickr/Steve Rhodes

After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

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Billionaires. We’ll look at the super super rich, and their global shaping of our world.

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Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

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