Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Looking Ugly

Along a fast, unregulated stretch of Pacific Coast Highway, the local police department used to park and empty squad car. Drivers going through this way would see the squad car parked up ahead and immediately slow down.

That was the whole idea.
It allowed traffic control without having to put another officer on the street. The department was really proud of this little tactic and (oops!) bragged about it to the press.

Knowing that this black & white was empty opened up a whole new realm of pranking possibilities for my friends and I. And we had fun doing them, yes we did!
Silly stuff, really. Beer bottles left on the hood. Band stickers on the bumper. The MDC sticker was most classic. The final act of 'thumb in the eye of authority' was slicing one of the tires.
This brought ultimate cool cred among the crew for a while, because anything that ballsy would have to be challenged and, short of really drastic action, who can top slashing a cop's tires and getting away clean?

Well, one of us did come up with an idea, an ultimate dare that was never followed through, despite a few aborted attempts. None of us wanted to be that stupid.
Teasing the lion through the bars is one thing, but jumping into the cage brings you into a world that you no longer control.

Same time period...

I saw lots of kids get there asses kicked by the cops for the crime of being unruly after a punk show. Right or wrong, it was easy to see that it is rather stupid to throw beer bottles at cops and not expect a drubbing if they got their hands you.
("Seriously, Bro, what'd you expect?")

And, to be fair to the cops, in the interest of maintaining the respect for authority and the public safety role they were being paid to perform, a heavy hand came in handy from time to time. I'm not saying it was cool to bust up our shows. I'm just saying that, yeah, OK... I get it that they didn't get it. Even if it did suck.

I ignored the whole wikileaks thing when it first hit several months ago. I'm not up to par on what this wikileak guy is all about, or what higher purpose he thinks he is serving. But it's looking to me like he's pushed it a little far.
Now, with him in custody, his homies are currently in the process of pushing it even further than that.
This thing could get uglier yet.
But whatever happens to this wikileak guy... he asked for it.





*and dont give me that 'His First Ammendment bullshit.' He is not under US jurisdiction, and not covered by any our ammendments.

29 comments:

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

He's got blood on his hands.

A lot of the documents he leaked were things like "these guys told us where the murderers were hiding."

my name is Amanda said...

Um, as far as I know, he's not in custody for what it sounds like you are saying he is in custody for. So, and I am truly not saying this to be facetious, but what are you talking about, exactly?

Gino said...

he's in custody for sex crimes, but dont kid... its because he stepped on the wrong toes.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

He should be hoping they'll protect him from the Russian Mob.

Apparently, they're peeved that he released data to the effect that they work with the Russian gov't.

(there's a joke in there somewhere)

tully said...

Sex crimes? So like the dam in Holland, no sooner did he start leaking than a little Dutch boy came and...

my name is Amanda said...

I agree that it takes something like international gossip for people to give any credence to sexual assault; I just don't get how he is being punished (potentially) more than he ought to be. If he's found guilty in the case of the "sex" crimes, then it means he should have been found guilty anyway.

Although on the topic of Wikileaks, in general I think the whole thing is fine (as I haven't heard a good reason for why it shouldn't be). Transparency, yea. Doesn't mean this guy isn't an asshole.

my name is Amanda said...

* "then it *theoretically* means he should have been found guilty anyway"

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

So, Amanda, how many dead folks would make sharing classified information not fine?

How much destruction and ruination of international cooperation would make it a worrying crime?

Or is it all OK, because it mostly hurts the US? (Honest to goodness, I HAVE heard that as a serious response.)

my name is Amanda said...

How many dead folks do we need in order to get over 9/11? I mean, speaking of people with blood on their hands - try the entire previous administration. Based on a lie, in Iraq. A lie. But honestly, if you can't agree with me there, we're probably not going to agree on the other thing. And I don't say that to be argumentative.

Or, I just don't don't see how the Wikileaks thing would kill anybody; I'm not averse to be educated on the subject.

tully said...

Amid all this debate, we sometimes forget what's really important: Acknowledging Tully's rather witty, bawdy little one liner.

Brian said...

"He's got blood on his hands."

Who is demonstrably dead as a result of Wikileaks? Not hypothetically in danger, not potentially compromised, not inconvenienced or embarrassed, but actually, really, dead?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Khalifa Abdullah.

I'm assuming you mean this specific group of leaks; if you mean in general, Assange has claimed 1,300 people were eventually killed [in Kenya], and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak.

RW said...

I'm waiting for the Loch Ness and Area 54 cables! Wait here... I'll get the popcorn...!

Brian said...

Thank you for a real answer.

OK, on Abdullah, that does seem a pretty clear case of someone's death being attributable in part to the actions of Wikileaks. I have to wonder (and I do wonder, because I don't know) if that data point was among those that the government declined to help Wikileaks redact prior to its release. That wouldn't absolve Wikileaks for moral responsibility in that case, but if we're talking blood on the hands, it seems like there is plenty of that to go around here.

I'm not saying this stuff is clear-cut and simple, that Assange/Wikileaks are unblemished heroes, or that there is never a legitimate interest in state secrecy. But I'm also not willing to accept any argument about moral culpability that rests (or at least appears to rest) on the premise that the aims, policies, and actions of the US (or any other) government are uniquely above reproach.

On the Kenyan incident, I think context matters quite a lot. The whole paragraph from which you quote:

"The leak exposed massive corruption by Daniel Arap Moi, and the Kenyan people sat up and took notice. In the ensuing elections, in which corruption became a major issue, violence swept the country. "1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak," says Assange. It's a chilling statistic, but then he states: "On the other hand, the Kenyan people had a right to that information and 40,000 children a year die of malaria in Kenya. And many more die of money being pulled out of Kenya, and as a result of the Kenyan shilling being debased.""

1300 dead people and many more displaced is certainly a bad thing, but that occurred in the context of a people revolting against corrupt governance (which also kills people).

I suspect that I'm a lot closer to pacifism than you are, philosophically, and even I think people a have a right (and occasional duty) to raise hell and possibly even spill some blood in response to an oppressive and corrupt state. Do you think Assange should have kept quiet about Kenyan government corruption because of the possibility the Kenyan people might get pissed off and try to do something about it?

RW said...

I've actually been trying to read these things from off the mirror site in Switzerland and for the most part they're as boring as anything. And, honestly, they make golf seem exciting. But it's interesting to note that as I talk to folks about this I seem to be the only one who has tried to read them as they come out (obviously not ALL, I'm usually asleep by the eighth or ninth but I seem to be the only one TRYING).

I kind of think Russia looks the worse for wear in these things. What a shitstorm that place is. And I'm very intrigued by some of the takes I'm reading about how powerless China is relative to North Korea. I mean I read this bit of enlightenment and then listen to the news when they're giving the standard reporting on North Korea |China Must Take More Responsibility| and I'm all "yes that's the intuitive take but didn't youse guys read where, when it comes to N. Korea China's damned if they do and damned if they don't??"

Re: China/Korea it's the counter-intuitive that is what is true on the back channels. So what the hell is the media talking about???

I don't know about the lives at risk and all that hurr durr. Maybe an editing job should have been done for that subject. But when I do hit on something I feel I'll be better informed the next time I listen to two politicians bandy about with their foreign policy arguments. If nothing else these documents are a damn sight better than links specifically provided by yet another faceless nerd on the net like me.

(Bubba, here's where you say "You're wrong RW there are things that need to be kept secret and the exchange of information you can use as a citizen compared to information that exposes our allies and friends to real harm. It's not a good exchange do the math durp durp durp.") Thank you.

Bike Bubba said...

For reference, the 1st Amendment binds Congress from infringing on free speech--one does not need to be a U.S. citizen for it to apply. However, it arguably would apply only to speech within U.S. borders and authority.

That said, it appears that what we have with Mr. Assange is a person who arguably has no self-control, either in sexual matters or in discretion of what really needs to be revealed. Whether or not he is convicted of either, hopefully his supporters realize what kind of clown they're dealing with.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Huh. Where did my responses go? They showed up in the email....

Bike Bubba said...

RW: :^) Alas, I'm mostly of the opinion that the real scandal is that a private was able to release this volume of things....

Foxfier is probably correct that people can/have/will die because of this, but hopefully this wakes our country up to the fact that just because someone has a security clearance doesn't mean they have a need to know, and that when someone is a fan of Lady Gaga, the clearance needs to be revoked simply for bad judgment. :^)

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

*groans* I've been getting an earful about that little busont. Army violates basic security protocol, and everybody else gets locked down hard-- even though they were FOLLOWING stronger rules than the guy broke!

Brian said...

The 1st amendment and all other Constitutional protections (though not all privileges, i.e., voting) apply, as I understand it, to "persons in the United States" (I don't have time to look up chapter and verse right now, but I'm pretty sure that's the phrase.)

Even though I am mostly sympathetic to the politics behind Wikileaks, I think it is pretty much beyond dispute that leakers have broken US law. I doubt anyone would seriously argue that the 1st amendment protects leaking classified information. (This should not be taken to mean I think that leakers have necessarily done anything wrong. Illegal =/= immoral in my book.)

However it is not clear at all to me that disseminating classified information that has been leaked violates US law, though I am certain the Justice Dept. is doing their damnedest to make exactly that case right now. Moreover, if you are "the press" doing the dissemination, I think there is a very strong case to be made that you are specifically protected by the 1st amendment in that instance.

Now if you are "the press" operating outside the jurisdiction of the US, I don't know that you can make a credible claim of 1st amendment protection. But by the same logic, I don't see how the US can make a credible claim of jurisdiction to prosecute you for much of anything (except actually killing Americans abroad), much less something that you would be specifically protected for by the US constitution had you done in the territory of the US.

Brian said...

The thought experiment here is this:

Imagine a US citizen in the US receives and disseminates information that the Chinese government considers classified, is potentially damaging to the interests of the Chinese government, and is a violation of Chinese law to possess and disseminate. The Chinese demand that this person be extradited from the US to China to face prosecution under Chinese law.

Should the US cooperate with the Chinese in this instant? If so, how broadly do you want to see this principle applied? Should people be extradited to Saudi Arabia for violating Sharia? And if not, why not? And how is that different from the US demanding that Assange be prosecuted under US law?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

And how is that different from the US...

I'll go with "because we don't kill people for their organs, rape virgins who are to be executed, chop off hands, stone on hear-say, force abortions or commit genocide when it's handy."

Seriously: if you really can't accept a baseline difference between the US and China or Sharia states, we're not going to have a very productive conversation.

Brian said...

Believe me, I do see your point. But does a vastly superior record on human rights* give the US (or any other similarly liberal** society) the right to assert legal jurisdiction outside the realm of its own sovereignty? I think if it does, the concept of the nation-state is effectively meaningless. That may very well be a step towards a better world, in the long-term, but I can't help but think there are many people in places other than the US that would have a legitimate problem with the idea. As would Americans (rightly!) in the scenario I describe above.

And if you like, you could substitute extradition of Americans to Canada to face prosecution under Canadian hate speech laws.

*Part of the reason the US and other western countries have such a vastly superior record on human rights and can claim a degree of moral superiority is that our governments are accountable to their people, or at least they are supposed to be. I don't have a problem with the US government as an institution, but I do have a problem with it when it fails to live up to those very ideals. And at the end of the day, this whole transparency debate is about where the interests of the state come into conflict with interest of the people in keeping state power in check.

**By which I mean "liberal" in the generic, global sense...individual rights, rule of law, etc....

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

We already send folks to other jurisdictions for crimes committed against them; I'm pretty sure that's almost as old as the notion of jurisdiction.

Here's an illustration: Ogg is standing in Cavetown, and Mogg is standing in Rockcity. Ogg throws a stone and brains Mogg. Is Cavetown refuting itself by letting Rockcity charge Ogg, in fact handing him over?

And at the end of the day, this whole transparency debate is about where the interests of the state come into conflict with interest of the people in keeping state power in check.

Not that simple. There's also the interests of the people in their state being able to work with other states. The interest in promoting the rule of law. The interest in not destroying the flawed but good while ignoring the horrific and evil.

I don't have a problem with the US government as an institution, but I do have a problem with it when it fails to live up to those very ideals.

Funny you should say that. You might want to listen to this podcast from Ricochet.

Gino said...

i think the USA really needs to get their wetwork operatives into gear, for its own sake.

there is nothing stopping anybody from posting the date and place of the next normandy landing if assange is allowed to get away with what some are saying he may be getting away with eventually.

nothing short of fear, that is...

Mr. D said...

But does a vastly superior record on human rights* give the US (or any other similarly liberal** society) the right to assert legal jurisdiction outside the realm of its own sovereignty? I think if it does, the concept of the nation-state is effectively meaningless.

Indeed. But that ship sailed a long time ago -- ask Manuel Noriega.

That may very well be a step towards a better world, in the long-term, but I can't help but think there are many people in places other than the US that would have a legitimate problem with the idea. As would Americans (rightly!) in the scenario I describe above.

Yep. And it's especially a problem for a nation that is ambivalent about being an imperial power. Which we are.

Assange is a putz. But I think BB is right -- the real problem is that a disgruntled PFC was able to get all that information. Either we don't have so many secrets or we need to do a much better job of keeping them.

tully said...

Gino: Are we invading Normandy? Holy shit! (excuse my Norman)

Bike Bubba said...

That would be Anglo-Saxon, Marcus Chickpea!

tully said...

Thank you ever so kindly!