The Thursday Blog: Lemme Tell You a Secret Edition

Okay, to begin with, this is a long and complicated story. I am going to do my best to make it as simple as possible, but I encourage you to take advantage of the space below and ask questions if you have them.

On November 28th, 2010 Wikileaks started publishing on their website 251,287 leaked cables from the United States Embassy, which date from 1966 to this year February. The decision was made to stagger the releases so that nothing would be lost amidst the gigantic deluge of information… although I think that perhaps prolonging their position in the news cycle might have something to do with it as well. As of this writing, 1,095 documents have been released.

Of the 251,287 cables, 133,887 are unclassified, (viewable by anyone) 101,748 are confidential, (would cause damage or prejudice to national security) and 15,652 are secret. (Would cause grave damage to national security.) It apparently skips right over restricted and there are no top secret documents.

The actual content of the leak is likely to be embarrassing for the U.S., and may well cause foreign dignitaries to become a bit more circumspect, but at the moment the indications are that the long-term effects are likely to be minimal. In fact, one of the most frequent questions that is beginning to be heard is “Why was most of this stuff classified at all?”

Since the release Wikileaks has faced a variety of challenges designed to put them out of business. Curiously, these moves have seeming turned Wikileaks into an unstoppable juggernaut.

There have been denial of service attacks, termination of hosting services, including Amazon’s cloud service, and the shunning of Visa Europe, PayPal, and Mastercard. (All companies have claimed violations of service agreements, although an unnamed source at Mastercard has reportedly said it was at the behest of the U.S. government.) The result has been somewhat akin to trying to remove a blot of oil on a tablecloth with a hammer. Wikileaks has spread out around the world, finding willing host sites in Austria, Switzerland, and the Cocos islands, among others. Currently there are 14 servers on 11 networks and well over a thousand mirror sites providing Wikileaks content. Web experts feel that further attempts to crush the site will likely result in even further diversification and fortification. Almost all of this has occurred in just a few days.

Mastercard was the first to feel retribution, as 4chan led a massive denial of service attack that turned the credit card company offline. It is doubtful that they will be the only ones.

The biggest difficulty seems to be what exactly to do about this. The U.S. government seems to have no current law capable of dealing with an event of this nature. Wikileaks itself is protected by the First Amendment, so the government has been looking for ways to indict Julian Assange, who is the reporter who obtained the leaked documents from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. Now while Manning is clearly toast, Assange may not technically have broken any laws. The Espionage Act has proved useful for convicting government officials who have leaked information, but the Act is a very specific tool that has never been successful at capturing someone a leak has been passed to. The documents were copied and never removed from where they belonged, so there was no theft. This means that the “theft” would be handled under intellectual property law, which specifically does not include any type of government document.

And then there’s the extradition problem.

Assange is Australian with no permanent home. The Australian Foreign Minister thinks the U.S. should stop bugging Assange and instead nail Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to the wall. No help there. Britain picked Assange up on rape charges (yay!) which seemed like good news, except that the charges are actually in Sweden, which is notoriously difficult about allowing the extradition of anyone. (boo!) Further complicating matters is the fact that one of the two women who had what appeared at the time to be consensual sex with Assange has been linked with pro-democracy Cuban dissidents… who are provided funding by the U.S. government… AND who were recently outed by Wikileaks. There have been suggestions that the rape allegations may have been fabricated. I’m not sayin’ one way or another, but no one has claimed he used a gun or tied anyone up, only that he he banged two chicks at once against their will. The logistics of this seem… complicated.

So. Assange may or may not be a criminal, and Wikileaks may or may not be the greatest threat to humanity since the gays took over prime time television. But a question that ought to be asked is this: Was it wrong? Not was it illegal, even if it wasn’t before you can bet it soon will be. But is Wikileaks wrong in what they’re doing?

Yes. And no.

Wikileaks has in the past exposed innocent people and their families to danger and perhaps death, and this was wrong. But Wikileaks has a larger goal of promoting (I’ll go ahead and say “forcing”) a more open and transparent society, and this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I personally think that Wikileaks gets a little caught up in their idealism, and fails to see that not everyone in the world needs to know who aided someone in escaping from Iran, and that maybe this is not quite the same as shining a light on corrupt officials.

The argument against is of course one of national security, and there are plenty of very valid points to be made there. However, think about a world where it becomes impossible for governments to keep any secrets of any kind. It’s a completely level playing field, and duplicity is problematic at the very best, when it’s not outright impossible. Maybe I haven’t thought this all the way through, but it looks as though the biggest casualty would be an excuse to go to war.

And that ain’t wrong.

151 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Lemme Tell You a Secret Edition

  1. About wikileaks stated goals, whether you agree or not.

    Assange posted his goal with wikileaks
    http://cryptome.org/0002/ja-conspiracies.pdf

    Basically, the idea is that there are a lot of powerful groups influencing governments, trying to have their way, whatever the stated mandate of these governements, and that this usually tends to favor a few powerful people rather than, well, “we, the people”.
    So, the idea is that, since this is a kind of improvised conspiracy (in that it was not formalized, but most things are done without us being aware of it), by revealing things and showing that anything can be revealed, maybe he’ll make these people more paranoid, and thus less able to function as well as they are. Which should mean that, perhaps, governments will catter more to the guys who elected them, and less to the guys who pays and lobby them.
    Sorry, I have trouble explaining this, I hope I’m clear.

    The rape accusation: He is NOT charged for rape. This is something purely swedish called “sex by surprise”. The actual facts are not clear at all, but it seems that he had sex with one woman, then another a few days later. It seems that, with one woman, a condom broke, and that he continued to have sex. I’m not sure about the other woman. Is there rape involved? I don’t know, and no one seems to. It seems that a big point of contention is that, after the fact, he refused to be tested for sexual diseases.
    So, this is even more murky that what you describe.

    • Thanks. The details were difficult to decipher. Of course it doesn’t really help that all the players are reporting something different.

      • If you have the patience to sift it all this issue is giving you a nice scorecard to see which reporter is actually a deep-cover member of which countries’ secret services based on what they’re saying and whom they’re attacking. I leave this to experts like Noam Chomsky who probably has this in a spreadsheet and likely won’t have to change very much in that spreadsheet by the time it dies down (one way or another).

        • Ah, I see you’re praising Chomsky there. That would explain why we usually disagree about things.
          BTW, what’s Chomsky’s (secret?) agenda?

          • Oh, it’s not that secret: He was a born commie/leftie/unionist. Unless you’re thinking of something else?

            • You forgot the “delusional loony who thinks giving power to and encouraging fanatic Muslims is a good idea”.
              Though the ” delusional loony” bit is synonymous with “commie/leftie/unionist”, I guess.
              Does he and his likes really think their “freedom-fighting” buddies will let them live if they ever take over?

              Funny thing about freedom-fighters, courtesy of the late George Carlin- if firefighters fight fire and crime-fighters fight crime, what do freedom-fighters fight?

              • I don’t remember reading Chomsky saying that, can you give me links to papers where he says he wants to promote Muslim fundamentalism? If you’re right I’ll have to strongly disagree with him on general atheist principles.

                    • Orald… You do realise, of course, that there’s a difference between saying that the israeli politics are bad and that a state based on a religion are bad and saying you’re for muslim fondamentalism, don’t you?

                    • I don’t see what’s controversial in his views on Israel as expressed in that page:
                      From Wikipedia: Chomsky has made many criticisms of the Israeli government, its supporters, the United States’ support of the government and its treatment of the Palestinian people, arguing that “‘supporters of Israel’ are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction” and that “Israel’s very clear choice of expansion over security may well lead to that consequence.”
                      Chomsky disagreed with the founding of Israel as a Jewish state, saying, “I don’t think a Jewish or Christian or Islamic state is a proper concept. I would object to the United States as a Christian state.”

                      I would tend to suspect that imprisoning thousands and thousands of people in open-air prisons in which the Israeli Army regularly dynamites or bulldozes down houses of families that suspected suicide bombers are suspected to belong to is a stupid idea that violates individual responsibility for individual crimes. It is imprisoning all those people without due process in the bargain. But we should save that discussion for if and when it comes up because it’s easily as hairy as the sum total of what we’ve discussed today already.
                      Also, I hope I don’t have to explain why I, an atheist, have a problem with either a Jewish state, or a Muslim state, or a Christian state, or a Buddhist state, or any other kind of religious-identity-constructed nation.
                      How about we do it like this, you find better citations of things that are actually controversial and then when the stars align and we get to a reasonably-related topic we’ll talk, eh? For now I’ll accept that many of your fellow citizens think that he’s a traitor to his Jewish ancestry/identity (because I already knew that).

                    • He legitimizes them and supports their “struggle”. I wasn’t accusing him of actually holding a rifle and shooting at kids, no, that’d be too low-brow and dirty-work for a man of his standing.
                      Am I excused if I just support vocally, through interviews and lectures the murders done by this or that Communist organization, say in Nepal(they’ve got one there, right? ), but I don’t join the action myself?
                      Whose side is he on? It’s easy and fashionable to criticize Israel, it doesn’t declare a “fatwa” on your ass and urges every Jew in the world to kill you(which most would ignore, anyway).

                    • As I understand it he supports them claiming and asserting a right for better conditions than the open-air “refugee camp” prisons they are afforded in Israel-Palestine, it is possible my grasp of his position is off. If he dances blood-dances every time an Israeli civilian is killed by a rocket attack I would be shocked and lose a bit of respect for the man.

                    • BTW, to whoever is downvoting Orald: He’s being civil which is a lot more than you can expect of many people born Jewish in Israel. His country is in continuous war of at least a low-level intensity (often spiking much higher) with the Palestinian refugee camp dwellers and it is unfair to expect people in his position to have an un-coloured view of those expressing opinions on their conflict.

                    • Well having a bunch of ravening lunatics pledging to drive you into the sea and destroy your nation would tend to make ANYONE Grumpy, wouldn’t it? (Not to mention lobbing missiles in your general direction in Saddam’s case…good riddance to bad rubbish!)

  2. Newsweek needs to hire you, your as awesome as Fareed Zakaria

    has anyone noticed though that the cables seem to point to a genuine interest in global stability? it ALMOST seems like maybe the invasion of Iran was not for oil but to secure peace before Israel and Egypt start flinging missiles at Iran

    • The US destroyed the democratic government of Iran in 1953, to install the corrupt regime of the Shah, who was deposed when he fell out of favour with his western backers. Both those regime changes were motivated by the Iranian government daring to want a better share of the oil profits from drilling in their country. The Iran-Iraq war, the longest conventional war of the 20th century which included mass use of chemical weapons, was substantially caused by the US giving weapons (including those chemical weapons and the weapons systems that launched ’em) and intelligence to both Iran and Iraq and setting them up to fight. The US should get its filthy spooks and foreign policy out of that place, it’s as fucked up as it is because of US interference over decades that has never let up.

      • And we’ve been trying to create the same environment in Venezuela. Everyone loved Chavez until he wanted more of the profits from the oil coming out of his country to stay in his actual country.

        • Shit, let’s not start talking about Cointelpro, WHISC/School of the Americas, and all the other stuff unless someone asks, eh? It’s one of these embarrassing cases where the well-documented truth makes people saying it look like conspiracy nuts to the ignorant.

        • You want to hear about a real oil agenda nobody seems to mention when it comes to the USA and its adventures in the ME? Why does the USA, EU and others give a damn about what some primitive, oppressive, misogynistic, fanatical mob spread out over 20+ countries in the ME? Because they’ve got oil, that’s why. They’ve got oil and Israel doesn’t. So screw right, wrong and healthy thinking- we want our pipelines to stay secure and keep on pumpin’!

          • The USA is the main backer of the oppressive Saudi regime, people who practice outright slavery in addition to a lot of different kinds of indentured servitude type deals. I list their support of Saudi Arabia with military trainer aid and preferential customer status as one of the reasons that American foreign policy is so fucked.

            • On this I of course agree. There’s room for improvement, like I said, with all the industrialized countries in this regard.
              But then, this particular oppressive regime isn’t much different from all their other regimes. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
              I’ve mentioned the reason for it in my big comment, it’s because democracy etc are still very new ideas around those parts and haven’t taken root yet.

              • Bullshit. Democracy is thousands of years old.
                In Saudi Arabia’s case there is probably a fair bit of ignorant desert-hick in the equation because the people founding the country in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire were a bunch of nomad warlords. Mostly the problem seems to be along the Iranian model: America won’t let them have a real democracy because then it isn’t as cheap and easy to bribe the dictatorship to ship the resources to you cheap. They want more Saudi oligarchic dictatorships and fewer Iranian democracies because democracies also aren’t as big buyers of American surplus arms and there’s that whole pesky problem of the people voting out the guy you’ve been bribing for years because they think he’s too corrupt.

                • Iranian democracy? Having fun with oxymorons, I see. Real nice elections they had there, real nice laws and executions, too.

                  Democracy isn’t a new concept, sure, but that wasn’t what I was talking about, and you know it.
                  It’s a new concept for them. They’ve only had monarchs and dictators until now, so even the few democracies they do have are a joke. Look at Egypt’s last elections(for parliament?).
                  Russia, a semi-“western”, industrialized, powerful country, nobody’s “oil-selling toy-dictatorship”, as you put it, is still not there yet in the search for real democracy. Why? Because they didn’t have one until 20 years ago, so they’re still learning. Lets hope they learn fast enough before Putin just gets bored with the whole thing and proclaims the birth of the 2nd USSR.

        • Don’t be daft, he had receipts from American arms shippers. No nukes though, and no home-grown capabilities.

        • Also, I was talking about the American history of intervention in Iran, not Iraq. I know they sound the same and it came up topically as the folks America got to go to war with Iran for eight damn years, but if you want to troll I’m gonna ask you to at least do better than that.

          • You mentioned Chemical weapons being used in the Iran/Iraq war, AC. Responding to that is perfectly legitimate, NOT a troll.

            Your post, however, is CLEARLY a troll, trying to obfuscate by trying to claim I can’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran (I’ll give you a hint, it’s one letter, and one is a bit further East, in case YOU can’t tell – They both basically sucked, at least when Saddam was still sucking Oxygen.)

            • “The US destroyed the democratic government of Iran in 1953, to install the corrupt regime of the Shah, who was deposed when he fell out of favour with his western backers.”

              “No, No…remember, Saddam never HAD WMDs…no chemical weapons there, nosiree!”

              Did I mistake which post you were answering with that statement of yours I’m quoting?

              • You mistook the PART of the Post I was responding to…read a bit further and you’ll find: “The Iran-Iraq war, the longest conventional war of the 20th century which included mass use of chemical weapons, ”

                Are you trying to deny you posted that?

                • No. I am denying that, “No, No…remember, Saddam never HAD WMDs…no chemical weapons there, nosiree!” was relevant or useful. It’s a fact the Iraqi regime was provided American chemical weapons and helicopters to spray them with for use in the Iran-Iraq war. It’s also widely documented that’s all he ever had in terms of NBC.

                  • You mean “widly proclaimed by the press” not “Widely documented” – We still don’t know what was in the truck convoys that were seen leaving the country in the months prior to the final invasion. Coulda been anything, but highly doubtful it was infant formula or asperin.

                    • Look, I stand by my assertion that your comment was not about the topic, which was US inverventionism and interference in Iran. What does the propaganda for US invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003 have to do with US intervention in Iran over decades? Answer: NOTHING.

  3. The notion of the “causus belli” excuse to launch a war is ancient and the notion of there being no further such bullshit ever would be a cool and necessary first step to something approaching world peace. That said, as long as the US government has a mass-media system as tightly controlled as the one in their country to work with Wikileaks can release anything and American Presidents will still be able to launch pointless, costly wars to enrich their backers. It’s idealism to expect better until both the political system and the critical reasoning and general knowledge of the voting public is improved in your country. Right now the direction is towards eroding, disregarding or disestablishing regulation, regulatory enforcement and regulatory authority as it constrains the wealthy and connected and I don’t see that stopping or even slowing much before there’s too little left for anybody to bother fighting over it.

    • That’s a hard case to argue against. I don’t really see Wikileaks changing the world, though it’s a nice thought. I could imagine a sudden rash of assassinations much more easily than I could picture nations allowing their real secrets to be published.

      Still, it’s nice to think about.

      • I’ll give them that their hearts are in the right place, and that they may influence a few people to either stop supporting the people responsible for atrocities quite so much and a few others to try to do something about it… that could have knock-on effects elsewhere. Problem is it’s a vast systemic problem set up by the people with power to keep people from either threatening that power or even getting in their way. It’s hard and dangerous to try and do something about that.

  4. Fear the unleashed fury of 4chan ! ; )

    I believe a few thousands of French embassy files has recently been released to wikileaks as well a couple days ago. I heard their content about the Russian governement was even less flattering than the US files ; )

    Will governments increase their security and modify laws so much that such leaks will only happen extremely rarely or will their be enough people poking holes left and right in the dam of government secrecy until the leaks become the rule ? Likely something in between of course but I certainly do hope for the latter…

    I am amazed how inefficient they were at shutting down the website, will our Swiss neutrality be good for something ? I am sure a Swiss leak would not hold much interesting info ; )

    PS: it’s my birthday ! Woohoo I am even older ; )

    • Congratulations on not dying for another year, good luck keeping up your long streak of continued survival.

      Please do not get me started about 4Chan, the thing that depresses me most about them is that they’re just about the only group worth mentioning to have seriously tried to slow down or stop Scientology in years. Either that or Pedo Bear….

  5. I think the Sideshow is the fun part…For example, the New York Times deciding to publish some of the Memos, despite their obvious “illegally obtained” source…Gee, I seem to remember an editorial during the East Anglia Climategate Email Scandle which stated that they wouldn’t be published in the New York Times because “They appear to have been illegally optained” despite that the actual content of the emails wasn’t in dispute.

    Hey, New York Times…Hypocritical much?

    Oh well, who cares if some of our allies in hunting down Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden get murdered because their identities get revealed? What’s a toppled govermnent or two? It’s all about selling newspapers, right?

    • Sen. Lieberman is calling for an investigation of the Times, specifically. (Although there are 5 newspapers with Assange’s archives who have been printing from them.) He says he’s not sure if what they did was at all illegal, himself citing their First Amendment protections, but that they are likely “Bad Citizens”.

      Doe we really need a congressional investigation just so we can call someone names?

      • Hey, I didn’t say they did something ILLEGAL…Evil, maybe, but not Illegal as such…and not super evil, more like a Poke The Poodle – after all, the info is already out there, it’s just them going against their own, stated, “moral stand” on publishing “illegally released” information.

        And I completely think they need to nail that PFC who stole the documents in the first place to the wall. He’s the real villain here.

        “Oh, I’m unhappy about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, so I’m going to steal a bunch of documents that expose things like the fact that Arab governments have been pressuring us to attack Iran, while other governments have been telling us to keep bombing the Taliban in their territory and they’ll keep saying the bombs are theirs, and the identities of people who have been helping us hunt down terrorists, and release them to the world!”

        Yeah, Right. Someone needs serious prosecution under the espionage and treason laws. Too bad the US government no longer has the balls it takes to prosecute to the fullest extent like they used to (Remember the Rosenbergs?)

        • Treasonous villain, that guy? Maybe. I challenge you to name an American President in the last thirty years who wasn’t an even worse treacherous jerk. I’ll grant that Carter is fairly arguable in that string, even though he didn’t want to preside over the bullshit he was forced into, and that if you accept that it goes back more decades than three before you can find an American President who was less of a traitor than this whistleblower.

          • See, this is how people make excuses for treasonous behavior…vauge accusations with no specifics, trying to redirect attention to some third party and trying to rename treason as “whistleblowing” – No, AC, revealing the identity of people who are putting their lives at risk to help locate terrorist invaders in their country is not “whistle blowing” – it’s attempted murder.

            Please substantiate your accusation by listing at least three “treasonous” acts of the following presidents who fall into your time frame (Note that Stupid != Treasonous – as a bonus, I’ll include an example of something stupid each one did so you can tell the difference):

            Barack H. Obama (Complete ignorage of big oil spill except to arbitrarily ban drilling in completely unrelated areas)
            George W. Bush (Letting everyone get away with calling him stupid and accusing him of blowing up the world trade center himself without comment. Oh, and believing Brittish Intelligence reports.)
            William J. Clinton (I did not….have…sexual relations with that women…Miss Lewinski…)
            George H.W. Bush (Read my lips… (Then lets himself be talked into breaking that promise…))
            Ronald Regan (Iran/Contra)
            Jimmy Carter (pathetic response to hostage crisis)

            • Clinton’s problem was with Lewinsky? Seriously? I’ve seen some of the others and Ms. Lewinsky was clearly not his worst choice.
              Unless you’re referring to him lying on the stand. 😛

              • Correct, Orald…waving your finger and lying emphatically is, in fact, the stupid thing I was refering to.

                  • A bit on the side, but one of the most hillarious things i ever saw based on that was an ad for some sort of eyesight correction.

                    An out of focus, blurry picture of Monica Lewinsky and under the picture the words;

                    “You look very beautiful tonight, Hillary!”

                    I laughed to the point of hernia….. :mrgreen:

                    Okay, back to our regular program.

            • You want three, and tried to disqualify one of the most widely known incidences of treason. I’m gonna have to buck you on that second part because Iran Contra was treason. Here’s three Presidents and their treason then:

              On Iran Contra, Reagan’s government sold arms to Iran–a declared enemy–to fund dirty-dealing operations with drug-running in Central America. Sold guns to the folks who always talk a good game about burning American pigs, step one. They used that money to fund a drug running operation that launched product direct into America (and other countries) for two, and then the profits from that funded dirty war-crimes stuff for the slam dunk of shithead. Considering how The War on Drugs was a big project of the Reagan Presidency I can’t give that a pass as not hypocritical bullshit treason on that alone, never mind arming Iran.

              Bill Clinton’s repeal of Glass-Steagall I’ll name as capstone of a long career of gutting the rules that protect the country from foreign and domestic thieves. The whole 1994 healthcare fiasco that set up the HMO system, and all that: It was a straight-up emptying out of the common standard of living to support rich bastards who weren’t even all American. The 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall in particular is one of the major reasons that the world depression of 2007-2008 (to present) started.
              If that’s not juicy enough for you (of course not, no direct arms and info shipments to named American enemies or shipping of illegal drugs to American cities even) how about the crap he got up to in his dirty double-dealing with Russia, Georgia and the general Caucasus. America has no business supporting a small country in the middle of Russian hegemonic territory that gives the Russians good reason to be mad at America–there is no strategic reason to do it except to piss off Putin and his crew. Since that damn-fool campaign in the post-USSR Russian sphere started America has solidified justifiable Russian anger at American chutzpah, daring to try and turn the Caucasus into another Afghanistan for the new Russia. Why do you think Russia has so many spies watching America these days? MYOB is something American Presidents are horrifyingly bad at and Clinton was no exception.
              What makes that all worse is that the American allies there are militant Muslim idiots though so a big chunk of the arms shipments involved there do go direct to international terrorists …like Al Qaeda. Okay, maybe if you want you can laugh all that off as a mixture of incompetence, greed and stupidity but we’re splitting hairs if you do that.

              I don’t know the failures and fuckups of GHWB well enough–I will give him credit for not making the dumbshit mistake of his son and invading Iraq–and I don’t want to get into a shouting match over the many failings of GWB because far too many people think he’s a guy worth defending and I’ve run out of patience for that shit today.

              I guess I’d better pick over how Obama’s foreign policy has made America look the weakest it has in decades, with the way that America keeps getting punked by Israel just saying no to America asking them not to extend settlements in Israel-Palestine. Eh… that may be weak but it’s part of why the Chinese are starting to arm twist America these days. Okay, fine, that’s weak: Let’s go for Talibob.
              The wide open secret of how nobody in American military intelligence has a good reason to be in Afghanistan and Obama’s spineless lack of courage against Republican war-campaigners to get out of there, limit casualties in a war that can’t be won and tell the truth about how Osama Bin Laden is probably hiding in Pakistan these days means that Americans are spending a lot of money and lives fighting and dying right now for zip, zilch, nada. I can understand why, telling the truth about Pakistan will involve explaining how Pakistan has had more military coups than democratic governments since it gained independence and that America is the #1 international sponsor of those coups. It would involve explaining the dirty secret that terrorist organizations are usually sponsored by at least one intelligence agency to do their dirty deeds and that the Pushtun tribal groups and other such crap are in the pocket of the American-sponsored military government of Pakistan as an asset in the never-ending border incident bullshit between India and Pakistan. That shit is dirty, despicable murder for hire which America is also responsible for and ought never have supported, but America is trapped in supporting it because if they leave the military twisting in the wind either they may get so weak international Muslim terrorists might be able to heist some Pakistani nuclear weapons or perhaps even worse things can happen than that. But really, it’s a case of money and lives being spent to cover the spinelessness of American politics in confronting an ugly situation that was made by American foreign policy.
              To summarize that: America sponsors the Pakistani military government, which sponsors the Taliban who fight American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Obama has tried to keep that from becoming public knowledge and to avoid developing an exit strategy for pulling out of that mess. That’s either gross incompetence on the level of treason or outright treason itself.
              And the fucking bank bailout ought to count as treason by itself–especially considering a lot of the banks being bailed out weren’t American–but oh fuck am I not willing to get started on that mess today. If you want to cover it some time please pick a day to cover that topic alone or wait for Kevin to come back to it sometime.

            • Carter essentially “created” Osama bin Laden, when it was decided that it would be both better international table manners and WAY cheaper to simply train and supply the mujahadeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets than to directly oppose them. Without Zbigniew Brzezinski’s CIA trainers turning the crazy religious thugs into an army there would never have been the “terrorist training camps” we see today, continuing those early lessons.

              • Didn’t wanna go there because the plan to bankrupt the USSR in Afghanistan using cheap arms shipments and a few agents and military trainers did do what it was supposed to do eventually, when the USSR finally pulled out a decade later. But yeah, America created OBL and that started under Carter.

              • Oh, don’t forget that a lot of the early members of the Zetas were originally trained as ANTI-Drug special forces troops at Fort Bragg…

                To be fair to Carter, he could not have anticipated Osama getting pissed because the Saudis called on America to help defend their borders when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait instead of letting the Mujahadeen handle it.

                • If that were the main reason Osama Bin Ballistic were pissy I’d grant you it, but empty American promises to help Afghanistan recover after the USSR invasion of Afghanistan were way higher on the list, as were a lot of other things.

                    • Oh, that’s on the list. He’s a nutjob son of Yemeni folks who went to Saudi Arabia to go do construction because the Saudis are themselves too lazy/corrupt/stupid to do it. He feels for the Palestinians oppressed and driven out of their homes by Israel in the 1947-through-present conflict and hates America for providing military aid to Israel for one. That’s much bigger on his list than America benching him during the 1990 Gulf War.

                  • But he doesn’t hate the UN for creating Isreal in the first place I suppose?

                    Yes…Isreal was created by the UN.

                    And they’re not “Palestinians”, they’re “Syrians” – they only became “Palestinians” when it was a convenient excuse for all the surrounding countries to invade the area shortly after Isreal was created AND LOSE.

                    Surest way to make Isreal get bigger seems to be to attack it. Maybe that should be a hint that attacking it is a “Bad Plan”

            • I had a post munged by the filter, but it was three points:

              The Reagan regime’s Iran Contra was treason, not just stupidity. They sold weapons to Iran, a country that Republicans keep wanting to bomb or invade, and used the profits to fund drug running that sold drugs in America to fund the Contra war-crimes machine, on the bullshit excuse that Contras were fighting communism. The hypocrisy of declaring The War on Drugs on one hand and doing that on the other ought to earn Ronnie the noose for locking up thousands of people for smoking and dealing the dope his guys imported.

              Clinton getting America involved in Georgia is one of the ways that OBL keeps getting arms shipments, and is the single biggest reason Russia has so many spies against America these days.
              (I also ranted about how the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 and a lot of his other mercenary lobbyist-ordered deregulation ought to count–the end of Glass-Steagall in particular since it was one of the bigger financial deregulation idiocies that caused the current worldwide recession/depression.)

              Obama’s spinelessness and failure to deal with Afghanistan-Pakistan sanely is sending American troops to die against Taliban supported by the government of Pakistan… which is sponsored by America as an ally in The War On Terror. (I also mumbled irritatedly about how the bank bailouts should count as treason, and how Hillary Clinton taking point in driving the Israel peace process is one of the reasons America looks so weak that China is arm-twisting America so much these days.)

  6. NOBODY pantses the United States in front of the world and gets away scott free! They just couldn’t figure out how to get thier grubbies on him, so they (blackmailed, coerced, bribed) got some bimbo to cook up a story that will be impossible to prove in order to get him embroiled in the legal system. Now there’s going to be an endless circus of lawyers and hearings untill they finally find him mysteriously hanging in his jail cell with a “suicide note” saying “Ha ha, it was all a hoax and all those documents were faked…seriously, f’real!”

    However, he obviously isn’t the only one, and there are a lot of smart hackers out there working non-stop. They have the information, and it’s going to be released whether the dude’s in prison or not. Yeah, America’s going to get egg on it’s face, but that’s the price of lax security on sensitive documents! Maybe we’ll have to start dealing straight for a change. Nothing like a little light of truth to make people honest. It’s too bad that getting caught is the only thing that seems to work.

    • Getting caught won’t make them straighten out, the people who go in for this cynical profiteering by realpoliltik stuff are the total sociopathic jerks who believe in their own omnipotence and the stupidity of everybody who opposes them. It’s a hard question because this kind of scum usually rises to the top and sets up crony systems if ever there is a place and a time there isn’t one already existent for them to attempt to suck up to and then exploit.

    • Assange sent out thousands of encrypted infodumps he refers to as a “thermonuclear bomb” of leaked material, and has threatened an automated release of the key code should anything happen to him.

      Kinda makes me want to poke him just to see.

  7. Interesting…

    Well I first wrote a rant about protecting our troops and hanging those that commit acts of treason, but I’ll move on to your last point about pure transparent governments.

    We are human and we kill each other. We do this very very well, as we have thousands of years of experience at this. Look at Jordan, they are a group of Factions that kill each other everyday and make alliances that fluctuate to make sure they can kill each other everyday.

    When it comes to protecting your people you make conditions that allow defense and offense and most of importantly of all the ability to win. No reason to protect what you can’t keep. The best way to do this is to be ahead of the competition. To stay ahead of the competition you need to keep your abilities a “Secret”, if not within the system then within the population that it protects. In small groups this is achieved easily because it means you get to talk to your friend the next morning. With millions of people oblivious to the “front lines”, at least for many, it is much more difficult, and as such it becomes a “need to know”.

    In a perfect world where we all love each other pure tranparency is great. In a world filled with Humans secrets are a necessity because it means your enemy is hessitant at trying to kill you. He still wants to, but now will take more time in trying to do so. Get over Human nature only then will we all live in peace and harmony.

    This is where WikiLeaks is a problem for our protectors. Even though politicaly or morally we might be doing something ‘wrong’ exposing those on the front lines is an evil, and only leads to deaths that in no way directly change the system in which Secrets are created.

    People either need to rely on our military and those that command it or go join the ranks and Understand it. Damn those that cause deaths to those that prevent our own.

    • I’ll discuss the “front lines vs. the oblivious general populace” problem in greater detail in another post, but apart from the “Jordan” part(did you mean Iraq or someplace else?) I agree.
      Well, sure, Jordan is a corrupt, oppressive monarchy but that’s about the best some people seem to be able to achieve, for now. That’s mostly because they haven’t had any experience with some of the better, or at least least-bad, systems of governance and will take quite some time to adjust to the modern world, hopefully. Kinda like Russia, I guess. No, no, I meant Putin is totally awesome please don… 😯

      • Do not kid yourself: All governments are corrupt where they are not specifically run by the autocrat or an oligarchy for their own benefit (perfect corruption to the point that is actually how it’s intended and expected to go).

            • I did. That was my entire point. Truly, I suck at subtle sarcasm. 😥

              Oh well, I always did prefer clubbing people on the head.

              • Don’t try to sarcasm me about calling for revolutions I’m not calling for, that’s the lesson.

                    • Off topic, that reminds me a funny part in a Russian book I read once(translated, of course). It was a satire about the USSR, the plot being the German invasion of WWII. Lots of crazy, silly stuff going on and the secretary in the local NKVD station gets frightened/surprised and blurts out “oh mein gott!” but nobody notices or asks her about it, since they’re all incompetent and corrupt and only seem to arrest the innocent people.
                      In the following book, as the Germans are advancing on the town and it’s evacuated she disappears with a lot of documents and leaves a funny message(written in lipstick, I think).
                      It’s a really fun read, called The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin.

                      Ooh, I see they’ve made a film too, I’m gonna d/l it! 😀

                    • I have been having a sadly humour-light day, please let this be absurd enough without being stupid. *checks link*

      • I’m guessuing that Chris was thinking of the Palestinians, since for many years Jordan served as their “voice”.

        • Yes, I think I typed too fast. My example is to reflect the Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. The “country” in which they call home is more like an area of land with a border around it in which these factions live and fight.

        • Which just proves he’s an attention seeking pussy. He might still do it if he gambles on Putin not digging him a grave right in front of the whole world and going about as if nothing happened(as he’s done so far, on many occasions), but that’s one heck of a gamble. He knows he can mess around with the USA and some other democracies because they’re more hesitant about killing guys like him and getting bad PR.
          Putin just doesn’t give a shit, since he’s not up there for re-election every few years.

          • Sure his mouthpiece is, but nobody else can win. Seriously, read back issues of The Exile for a picture of what post-communism Russia was like for American weirdos who lived there. Their death porn and prank stunts were amusing stuff.

    • I don’t believe that you do need to be able to keep secrets to stay ahead of the competition, you just need to be better.

      But let me describe what I mean by a transparent world. If you are the wealthiest nation, everyone else knows it, and by how much. Further, they know how much you can reasonably afford to give away, and how deserving they are in contrast to everyone else.

      If another country is planning on attacking you, you know it far enough ahead of time to attempt a diplomatic solution. No more sneak attacks. If a country is dangerous and unstable, EVERYONE knows it… and as well that country knows the risks of BEING dangerous and unstable. (Which is probably getting pounded on by everyone who might feel threatened.)

      I honestly believe that secrets create WAY more problems than they solve, always. Now of course I understand that this is an entirely idealized and impractical construct, so your point about a world filled with human necessitating secrets is well taken.

      Damn. I hate it when I make a great point and then end up breaking it.

        • Funny, and here I thought that was what Kevin meant by being better to stay ahead of the competition.

          If a country is dangerous and unstable and everyone knows it…Say, I can name a few. But why doesn’t anyone do anything about them? Oh, right, they’re either rich in oil and other natural resources, have nukes or are politically connected to other, stronger nations.

          • That’s also pre-emptive invasion or pre-emptive striking, which is greatly frowned upon around the world, because he who strikes first is the shithead who is disrupting peace.
            Anybody who initiates war, of any intensity, is also opening themself up to fair retaliation strikes of military, economic and political nature which can hurt. Don’t go to war is a decent policy if you can manage it, but America never has.

            • I love how those peace-loving, human-rights worshiping liberals cry about places like Myanmar but won’t actually lift a finger to DO anything about it. Guess what, all their slogans and cries DON’T DO SHIT.
              If you really care about something you do something about it. If you’re in it to feel better about yourself, to score some young, naive and idealistic chicks and get your picture on TV, well, I guess you do what all of them are still doing day in, day out.

              I’m only bitter and jealous because I can’t pretend to be like them and score some pussy. 🙁

              • Oh, those poser activists like Greenpeace piss me off too, dumb punks pulling stunts for cameras and press releases so they can bullshit stories to hit on chicks with. Those folks stopped being relevant to raising awareness of global environmentalism issues a long time ago.

  8. The main problem with trying to create a world where secrets are impossible to keep is, do you REALLY want ANYONE to be able to know what you’re doing, 24/7/365.25 if they want to?

    Secrets aren’t the reason wars start…wars start for whatever reason, but almost never “because there was a secret” In fact, often war is AVERTED because something was kept secret for that express reason.

    What’s spooky about the Wikileaks thing is, you KNOW some Internet-control Nazi groups are going to try to use this as an excuse to implement “Net Neutrality” or some other “let’s censor the internet” thing…and that’s a lot scarier than anything these jerks are up to.

    • Finally, someone who hits the nail on the head: These wikileaks people aren’t saying anything much that you can’t find out by reading the news for your own dang self, and because they aren’t saying the truth from uncontroversial sources the dingbats-in-charge are going to gear up for yet another curbstomping of civil liberties and freedom of speech.
      Give them that they at least are doing what they do in pursuit of the public good with vaguely plausible reasoning behind it though. Most American people just didn’t have the patience to read through UN and IAEA reports about how Saddam Hussein had no nuclear ambitions in 2002, and that let the country be led into an invasion for oil covered up under totally dishonest propaganda reasons. That war either shouldn’t have happened or at least should have been managed much more realistically: It was tragically mismanaged because the psyops and secrecy from the American public was more important than actually figuring out if an invasion to take the oil fields was viable and doing what could be done to make the odds suck less. These wikileaks people probably figure that more of the truth floating around will make it harder for folks to cynically declare wars to increase DoD purchasing budgets and that’s not fully unreasonable and unrealistic.

      • Wait, you’re actually buying what the UN and its committees have to say? I always take that stuff with a whole handful of salt.

        • The UN? Tell the Truth? That, my friend, would be one of the Signs of the Apocalypse.

          I mean come ON…they have the ambassadors for some of the most oppressive regimes on EARTH on the HUMAN RIGHTS committee. (Insert obligatory “Fox in charge of the henhouse” cliche’ here)

    • No, it is much easier, simpler and quicker to just kill yourself; it is much easier, simpler, quicker and saner than that even to kill nobody over this. Don’t get annoyed at us for what you chose to read.

  9. To start this post let me ask everyone a question: Where would you prefer to live, in the USA or China? Well sure, Chinese women are hot enough to not care about some minor inconveniences in regard to your freedoms, so let me rephrase that. USA or Saudi Arabia(for all i know they could have the hottest women in the world, but no one will ever see them to know)? USA or Cuba? USA or Egypt? USA or Russia(oh damn, hot girls and boys! we’ll ignore this one again while I pour some cold water on myself)? USA or Venezuela? USA or Nigeria?
    But why pick countries randomly one-by-one when I can just point to 80-90% of the countries appearing on this honorable list(USA and some others not included, of course, only the majority).

    So what country, what kind of society, would you prefer to live in? I’m guessing it’s not the type that makes you wear a certain type of dress that completely hides your features because you happened to be born with a vagina, the kind that gives you no voice(regardless of how much you, the simple citizen, actually change things even in the brightest of democracies, at least you get that) or say in the gov’ or the type where nosy journalists are suddenly found dead in their apartments after asking too many questions about the ruling body’s financial connections.
    So who do you root for, justified complaints, ideological differences and plain cynicism about the system aside?

    I don’t really like the USA. I don’t like any country, really. But if I had to choose between the lesser of two evils I’d choose the one where I can continue to dislike it, and voice that dislike in public without disappearing in the night or get hanged in the town square.
    The USA isn’t perfect, far from it(but then, what is this “perfection” anyway? and how can you achieve it when it seems to go against human&animal nature, despite what optimists spew? but that’s getting a bit off topic), but what are the alternatives? Do we try and break the less flawed countries because they’re not good enough or do we try to help them to get better? Should we, in the name of fashionable posturing and teenage rebellion, encourage “romantic” serial killers&rapists to spread their agenda of religious, political and racial intolerance?
    Whose side are you on? The side that gives you the freedom to curse it or the one that hangs you for it?

    And now we come to Wikileaks itself.
    What are the stated goals of Wikileaks? You can read all about them in Vincent’s post and other sources. But do we go by declarations or by deeds?
    Sure, some “secrets” are just gossip and name-calling among diplomats, but I hardly think anyone who lies so well and without compunction(ooh, I remembered that word right!) really gives a damn about it, or thinks the other side’s liars do. I’ll ignore that(though it’s good to know Italy’s PM has good parties, in case I’m in the area and actually start liking parties, which I don’t).
    Then there’re military secrets, like secret service identities and lists of sites of great strategic importance that could harm or even cripple a country if, say, some nice freedom-fighter decided to blow them up. I think most of you, even the more anti-governmental or whatever, agree these are not really such nice things to expose.
    And the last part is what I’d call the big “declarations of intent” political game- countries who repeat lies about this or that out in the open while doing something completely different behind the scenes.

    That’s not always a bad thing, remember. In the real world a some bad or questionable things must be done. We have to kill organisms(animal, plant, fungi) just to stay alive. We have to put some of the crazies in special places so they don’t cause more trouble. We sometimes have to kill people so we don’t get killed ourselves. We even lie to spare someone’s feelings(well, I hardly ever do it, but that’s because I’m a prick 😛 ). Armies use camouflage , which is a sort of an eyesight-related lie. Countries, like people, sometimes have to lie about some things for the greater good(they do it for their own gain too, of course, but that’s not the point).

    Some middle-eastern countries that are outwardly siding with, say, Iran, or are just staying neutral have secretly been pushing and urging and offering covert help to the USA to act against what even they(remember the naughty countries that shut you up for calling them bad names and dress you up in a black sack because you’re a woman? guess what, they’re all in there, what a coincidence!) consider a bad, naughty place. Sure, they have their not-so-good agenda, but if the result is less power to naughty places like Iran, why not?
    Personally, it’s nice to hear about that and know that behind all the posturing there’s still some hope of good things being accomplished. But what are the consequences? Now that they’ve been exposed they’re forced to distance themselves from such news. They might still act against Iran but might not commit as fully to it as before. Spies and intelligence aside, now Iran know just who’s on its side. The fist in the silk glove has been exposed and the bad guys can prepare better for it.

    So if Wikileaks’ motives are to better the world, why are they starting with attacking and weakening one of the relatively better forces at work? Why don’t they focus on the really bad ones? I’m sure there’d be much juicier details there as well for the press to pick up. Does it come as any surprise that some of the countries who voiced their support and promised to host servers etc are the same where people get silenced?
    Some of them are also the same ones that continually condemn Israel while ignoring every other country surrounding it, which I’m afraid aren’t exactly better, to say the least.

    You just don’t renovate a house by first knocking down its main support column because it was a bit chipped around the edges when half the walls are rotten through. Not unless you want it all coming down on your head.

    P.S. Obviously I forgot to mention the “front-lines” problem, so I’ll do it later.

    • Monroe Doctrine, Fulgencio Batista… America may be relatively well behaved in terms of domestic civil rights but American foreign policy is the single biggest assemblage of misery caused by under-restrained greed.

      • America’s Foreign Policy? Biggest assemblage of Misery?

        Guess you missed the whole “cold war” thing…and the lovely colonial habits of Britain pre-Revolution (“Let’s kidnap Africans, sell them in Barbados for Sugar, sell that in the American Colonies for Tobacco, along with whatever Africans we couldn’t unload in Barbados, and get rich! Oh, and let’s tax the American Colonies a lot and give them no say in parlament. Nothing bad could ever happen because of this. Really. Nope, no potential problems brewing there…”)

        • Was the British Empire worse than 2010 American foreign policy? Unfair question. The British had fewer victims to work with, fewer toys. Better morale and rules of engagement that let them openly practice genocide also. Overall I wouldn’t disagree if someone tried to argue that The British Empire at its height was more vicious than American foreign policy of today. The real question is what difference does a century and change make in the criteria for judgment?

          • So let’s compare two MODERN examples. Anti-Government Protestors in the USA are rarely arrested unless they do something actually criminal. Anti-Government Protestors in China were run over with tanks.

            So you think the USA is worse? I fail to follow your logic.

            • “America may be relatively well behaved in terms of domestic civil rights but American foreign policy is the single biggest assemblage of misery caused by under-restrained greed.”

              I’m not talking about tank-smooshing your own citizens. I wasn’t. That’s a separate category and sure, China at least ranks higher on that list than America and likely by a whole lot. I’m talking about shit like how many of the rights-abusing sweatshops in China are run by American corporations eager to participate in that abuse of Chinese civil rights for fun and profit.

              • However, Corporations are not an arm of the Government, and therefore Chinese Sweatshops are NOT a matter of American Foreign Policy (Though giving China “Most favored Nation” Trade status Is…And No, you can’t blame George W. Bush or the American People for THAT particular Crock-o-shit Decision.)

                OK, OK…so NOW there are some corporations owned by the Government…Government Motors for example…but not earlier…

                • Quite right, when acting as foreign entities subsidiaries of American companies are mostly that except where their decisions and resources are provided or negotiated by the American parent. I’m more upset about how American companies like Walmart bully American foreign policy decisionmaking into accepting toxic, substandard products made with labour that is underpriced and has its rights abused in the process. The US, still being the largest importer in the world, drags everybody down with them by saying that’s okay. Those American parent companies also get to receive profits from activities that would be illegal in the US too, which similarly annoys me. It’s part of the American corporate-elite driven notion of globalism for capital and products without globalism for people and laws. That’s unrestrained American greed fucking things up for people around the world, and even Americans too.

              • I don’t exactly see that particular example as the US gov’ actively participating in oppressing other peoples for their gain, more as silently standing by by not banning such merchandise or something like that.
                And then you should remember that the USA is absolutely not the only country whose citizens own sweatshops, mines, oilfields, factories etc in other countries that treat their workers like garbage.

                My point was also not only the USA, but the general idea of the “western world”, real democracies(yeah, OK, nothing is perfect, ever, lets move along) and generally tolerant societies.
                The USA just stands at the focal point of it all. It’s the most notable, powerful example right now, and so everyone just LOVES bitching about how bad it is.
                So my point was, look at the USA with all its problems, look real good. Now look at China, North Korea, Myanmar(nobody really cares about them, nice, ain’t it?) almost all of Africa, 99% of the ME(guess what’s the other 1%) and many more. Hell, it’s most of the world(which also means it’s most of the UN, surprise, surprise!). Which should you, a reasonably educated and enlightened, at least semi-logical person want to complain about? Which do you think would benefit yourself and other people(if other people’s welfare is your thing, can’t say it’s mine) if it was destroyed?

                That’s what we’re talking about here, the fight between good and evil. Or at least the lesser of two evils.
                Personally I want to be allowed to fuck/get fucked by whoever I want, as long as we’re both consenting etc(I have some disagreements about what constitutes “adults”), eat whatever I want and enjoy whatever pastime I want. That’s really my whole worldview, the cornerstone upon which everything else stands in my eyes. And I can’t do all those things in China or Saudi Arabia, so fuck them.
                If people want to observe a certain way of life good for them, as long as it doesn’t include interfering in mine, and that’s what’s WRONG about those places.

                • You’re diverting back onto the topic of domestic civil rights towards the end there, which deserves its own discussion.
                  That part dismissed until we get to that round, yeah… Canadian mining companies can be every bit as much shitheaded as American ones, American multinationals aren’t the only companies running sweatshops in China, Indonesia, India and such. The Americans do it bigger though, plus it’s the balance of private and public foreign policy of America working together that I’m pointing out as a fair target for having floodlights pointed at it in the hopes it shrivels up and starts screaming, “I’m mellllting!” like a certain memorable movie scene.
                  Consider the humble banana: http://discovolonte.typepad.com/discovolonte/2007/11/chiquita-sued-f.html
                  (Chiquita, sponsoring torturers so that they can get their bananas cheaper without having to pay union wages.)

                  • If I read it right it sounds like they were essentially paying “protection money” so their workers won’t be killed. That part of the article would make you accuse people paying protection money to the mafia criminals themselves, and not victims of extortion. Also, I love bananas.

                    I guess I was diverting it back to domestic civil rights, but that’s what it’s all about and where everything starts. The reason they can fuck up other peoples in countries like China(apart from obvious poverty and differences in currency&income*, which are too partly affected by the system of government) is that China allows its people to get paid such measly sums and work in such harsh conditions. They can’t pull it off on such a level in the USA, Britain, France or Germany because their governments don’t allow such exploitation. The Chinese gov’, on that basis, is more responsible for the exploitation of its people by American companies than the US gov’.

                    *There’s a funny bit about comparing wages to US dollars in countries where a dollar could easily buy you food for a whole day, if not more. It’s done for the dramatic effect on the American viewers who immediately think about US prices, which are adjusted for the US economy.
                    They’re still getting the shaft, mostly in regards to working conditions, but there’s a reason why so many people want to work there. Even Israeli minimum wages would be considered very low, and they aren’t great, but we’re not buying basic things in dollars, are we?

                    • “They conspired with the AUC, aided and abetted them in a far-reaching conspiracy and plan to control every aspect of banana growing, distribution and sale,” Reiter said.
                      The attorney said one couple refused to sell their banana farm “for pennies” and were killed by AUC in 2001, and other murder victims had been directed to “sell their bananas only to Chiquita.”

                      Chiquita calls it extortion, the victims say the AUC was their pet enforcement group as I read it. I tend to believe the people complaining about paramilitaries over a company mouthpiece denying responsibility for the actions of that paramilitary group. But again, we’re talking post-colonial economic imperialism here. Countries deliberately kept unstable and governed by militarist governments that suppress the local labour for their client multinationals who hand over cash and materiel. The US foreign policy directly aids and abets such greed-driven, murderous shenanigans.
                      US agricultural subsidy policies and food-aid policies are deliberately wielded as a weapon against agricultural self-sufficiency in those states too, so that they have to import US wheat and beans, it’s a whole developed system that was at least partly inherited from The British Empire actually.

                  • “American Multinational” has become an oxymoron. By now companies that might have STARTED as American companies have moved almost the entire company overseas due to the overunionized overtaxing United States business environment.

                    Seriously, if you pay 90% taxes on your business’ income on goods produced and sold in the US, and have to pay $50.00 an hour to Union workers that you can’t fire if they’re incompetant, but can open a factory in Mexico or Brazil and pay only 10% taxes and $5.00 an hour for the same production capacity, the ‘right’ decision, businesswise, is as obvoius as an elephant in a herd of deer.

                    Thus, most Multinationals are no longer “American” companies, except for some rare exceptions like the Automobile industry (and even THEY get their parts made overseas) – I heard a report recently on the radio that Steve Jobs said that if he had to make Iphones in the US, they would cost north of $5000.00 each.

                    • Bald-faced lie, if he had to make them in the US they’d improve production technology to use less unskilled labour until you’re dealing with the one guy sleeping at a desk in a huge automated facility thing. Of course then nobody would have factory jobs anywhere, but this is not the right thread to start talking about the obsolescence of traditional job-based work on.
                      Overall point is that business owners would be stupid not to lower their costs, and that’s obviously true. The part I’m digging at is where people setting up factories overseas are literally buying copies of Oliver Twist for cues on how to run them these days. That’s just not right. It also isn’t right to use undeveloped nations’ lack of regulation and inspection to try and slip arsenic and other banned toxins into products for sale anywhere–if it’s banned in all the world’s developed countries it ought not be tolerated to be built elsewhere either and it’s a scandal that toys have been made with arsenic-finishes in China (and other countries) and shipped to be sold in the first world as an end-run around consumer product toxin control. While these companies are operating overseas they typically bribe local governments, and any paramilitaries, to enable them to get the most out of the communities they locate in f0r the least cost and investment. Perfect business sense and entire rivers end up carcinogenic because of it.

                    • I suggest you try opening a factory in the US before flippantly saying that they’d just “improve the production technology” – you can’t build an OUTHOUSE in this country without permits, environmental impact studies, OSHA reviews, Plan Reviews, and contractor bidding for construction…and that’s before you even break GROUND. And then the day you open you’ll have the Unions trying to organise your workforce so they can force you to pay Prevailing Wage rates and not minimum wage (which is still much more than even the higher paid workers in overseas factories, so even if you DO manage to avoid being unionized and pay “Hamburger Flipper” wages, you STILL can’t compete with an overseas facility.

                      Even if you’re a totally NEW industry, SOME union or other would claim you were in their field and start leaning on you to unionize.

                    • See, there’s these things called regulations. You can’t operate a facility with just one person, because that’s “unfair competition” – the government would make SURE you had to have a substantial workforce. And no town or city is going to give you a permit to build a fully automated factory…after all, they want JOBS for their citizens.

                      And where are you going to BUILD all of those ultrasophisticated robots who are going to do the construction, packaging, and DELIVERY of your product? haven’t seen any workable “Truck Driver” robots yet…and there’s your Teamsters Union right there…and ANY kind of warehouse/factory will at the very least draw the attention of the ILWU, who would insist you need a minimum crew, security staff (Oh, look…another union!) and so on…

    • the strange thing here is that you would consider living in the States. I mean seriously, there are better choices, and I’m not even being sarcastic here.

      Let’s take Iceland(hey, you talk about the great things in your country!). NO secret service. NO military(hell we don’t even allow our police officers to carry tazers[we do have a SWAT though]). And despite those “obvious” disadvantages to public safety, we’ve received no serious outside threat since the cold war ended(not counting GB’s use of anti-terrorism laws because that wasn’t so much a threat as over-reaction), and internal threats(crime and such) are really quite minimal, not least because organized crime rings haven’t managed to gain foothold here. To be fair though, the bank robberies(with all the evidence, I really can’t call it collapse) and resulting crisis is the worst thing to strike us since the great depression, but compared to that, we really dont have it bad, might even say we have it good. And it looks like we’ll be out of it *cough*by 2030*cough*

      We’re at the top regarding women’s rights, and equality, and the only reason we didn’t fulfill the updated anti-corruption statements is that bribery hasn’t been common enough for us to put in strict laws against it. We are at the top regarding government transparency however.

      Besides, how can you say no to a lesbian PM , and such quaint uniquely Icelandic letters as þ,æ, and ð?

        • No you don’t! They are starving and have zero commerce. I know your joking, but I have family from and in Iceland, and it is not at all a good place to be right now.

          • SSHHH! we’re not supposed to talk about that! we need foreign investors here, man. :mrgreen:

            but yeah, it is kinda bad here, a lot of families are going through hard times, losing their homes and not able to afford food. That commerce thing is dead wrong however, the trade balance has been positive in the last two years since the collapse, as opposed to negative in the decade before. But the healing is going to take long, and we’re feeling the hardship that comes with it. Still it’s not so bad. At least there IS food, and we the public aren’t putting up with the government screwing us too bad, as evidenced by the opposition to the health sector cutbacks in the last few months has shown. AND there seems to finally be an end to those dreadful ICESAVE negotiations, regardless of wether or not we should pay that. Personally I think we should have explored that possibility further, but at least things seem to be turning in our favor.

  10. Damn. Kevin, I posted a huge comment and tried to edit a bit and it said it was marked for spam. I have a back-up(because Murphy’s a bitch), just in case.

    • Heck, my Song Links from yesterday are still “awaiting Moderation” (Is Barnes and Barnes really that bad?) though I suppose there must be thousands of spam posts a day we never see because of the filters, so I guess on the whole it’s better to have SOME filterage than NONE…though I woulda thought all the regulars would be on the Whitelist by now…

      • My post was approved without any problems(only had one link to Wikipedia on it too), it’s when I wanted to add a line that it suddenly became marked. And that’s not for the first time either. What is it with editing a post that marks it as spam?

        • Possibly…that’s when my post yesterday got marked for moderation…I had to look up the URLs for the songs I was referring (It was a post about how “My Clone Sleeps Alone” is far from the strangest thing I typically listen to, referencing a couple of Barnes and Barnes songs as examples (“Ah -A” and “Love Tap” specifically, though “Three Drunk Newts” would cerainly qualify as stranger than Pat Benatar’s songs…)

  11. Back to the original subject of Keeping Secrets, there are just some things that shouldn’t be generally known.

    An easy to understand example is the Witness Protection Program. For those not in the USA or those IN the USA who aren’t familiar with it, it was created to protect witnesses in federal cases (in particular informants helping to prosecute mob or gang cases – the kind of cases covered by the RICO statutes in particular) from retaliation for appearing in court to give evidence against powerful criminal organizations.

    Witnesses in the program are given new legal identities, and moved to a new community, usually in a new state, to prevent their old associates from locating them and causing them to assume room temperature.

    Now, as an analogy, imagine that something like Wikileaks released the real names, addresses, and new identity names of thousands of participants in the WPP and made them publicly available. This would be a death sentance for many of them. This is close to what Wikileaks has done to the formerly anonymous informants in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    If such a thing happened, don’t you think it would make witnesses somewhat reluctant to participate with the WPP in the future? Not to mention that whoever released the information isn’t a “Whistleblower” like AC would have us believe, but quite probably an accomplice to quite a few murders.

    • I don’t know much about the informants that Wikileaks relies upon. Disclosing current operational details for American servicepeople and current names and addresses for informants would strike me as a terribly bad idea if that’s what is being released under the Wikileaks releases these days–outside of exceptional circumstances.
      Those exceptional circumstances do exist: Trying to piece together the names of informants against lists of convicts and other lists of people who should not be trusted is the sort of basic diligence that both journalists and the intelligence services themselves should regularly do. Also, when the operations are clearly war crimes that’s significant because war crimes ordered by America’s leaders reflect on America and the murder of civilians being dismissed as “collateral damage” is one of the reasons that Americans are disliked in the world these days. Americans guilty of war crimes should stand trial and accept due process and punishment for those crimes, as should all criminals for all crimes.

      I’ve barely skimmed the documents list and some of their contents myself, I didn’t notice such lists but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in there. If they are that’s questionable journalism I would agree the organization should be called to account for (although a fair question is if there is any authority that could be trusted to judge them fairly).

      • It’s not as straightforward as an out-and-out list of informants…but it would be a trivial matter to research from military communique’s…let’s take a hypothetical…

        Ahmed the Terrorist wants to find out who informed on his hideout and forced him to abandon his stash of RPGs…so he logs into Wikileaks and searches the names of the three neighboring villages, and eventually narrows it down to a report from a Marine who related information passed to him by a kid named “Hanjitoldem” in a village named “Hyriyyam” about a suspicious man seen entering a cave up in the mountains…So Ahmed goes to Hyriyyam, finds Hanjitoldem, and kidnaps him, tortures him, and posts a video online to brag about it and leaves Hanjitoldem’s severed head outside his parents’ door as a warning to other would-be informers.

        • Apparently you’ve done more looking into this than I have: How trivial?

          As far as your hypothetical, that’s current operational intelligence in a highly fractious environment, the release of which can easily lead to the deaths of people identified–correctly or not–as informants in apparent American reports. I have trouble imagining a good reason for such a to be published to the general public. I can even accept keeping this stuff generally secret until enough years have passed that folks aren’t likely to try and kill each other over what’s in those reports anymore.

          • They’re in CSV format…meaning they’re searchable by anyone who knows how to use notepad or, if they want to get fancy, loads them into a spreadsheet program.

            • Yes, but you say they’re releasing individual trooper and squad reports with un-redacted names from Afghanistan? I didn’t go looking for that.

    • Yeah, but who gives a damn about some towel-heads* dying in that far away country we’ve never heard about before? We want to feel cool and stick it to the government.

      *Warning, racial slurs in use of sarcasm. May contain unprocessed peanuts and cyanide pills. Not recommended under age of 3.

  12. When we let the government have ‘National Security’ we get things like the CIA smuggling cocaine into Compton… Remember how they really did that? Remember Abu Ghraib? You know why we know about those two things? Because people leaked classified information. The cool thing about the 21st century is information is truly becoming freer. And like you said Kev, the harder they try to stop this the more the information spreads. Now if he’d just hurry up and post those UFO docs, we can finally get on with disclosure (Brittain and France have already released theirs. Flying saucers are real, kids, and you do have a right to know).

    • Ouch, hope you’re not American man, if you are you might have just scheduled your next fifty cavity searches by saying all that.

  13. LOLZ. I ain’t worried, the Man can’t see homeless people.
    Cartman represents the classic nonbeliever response:
    “There’s a 60-foot satellite dish sticking out of your ass!”
    “Dammit you guys are just tryin’ ta scare me!”
    And who do you think put the chip in my head?

  14. WOW!

    So I take off for a month to run for position in the constitutional congress here in Iceland, a committee review, discuss and propose changes to/a new constitution to be processed by parliament before being put to public vote. Voting to that congress went on 27. november, with final results announced on the 30. I didn’t get in, but it was a great experience, and I have to say, despite all the difficulties surrounding it, the assembly of people voted in was quite favourable.

    Anyway, it has taken me this long to catch up on ALL the webcomics I followed, and I must say, I certainly caught up here at the right moment.
    Such varied discussion!
    Such rampant political agendas!
    Such DRAMA!
    And that’s just the comic. Then there is all the comment section and blogs, which I just couldn’t read all of. I mean, I just can’t allot myself the time(though I did read the blogs, and skim at least the beginning of the comments). But forum rules? Really? Just what the hell have you people been up to? Donkeyshows?

    Anyway, I have to say, that out of all the comics I read, I think I missed this one the most. Not for the story and art(sorry Kevin, I love your story and art, but…), but mostly for the open discussion that goes on here. Out of all the forums and chats and other places of discussion I have been to, this one is surely the most open and civil of them all. Though I don’t know what that says about all of you or me.

    • Well thanks, Lavister. Sorry you didn’t make it in, but I’m glad you walked away with such a great experience. And no offense taken at all, I promise. There are many much better comics out there than mine. (Though fewer and fewer are as irritatingly long.)

      I appreciate your comments on our community, though that’s really owing much more to you guys, not me. In the main, everyone here is pretty great about expressing their ideas, and even more importantly, engaging others with their own ideas. Even our more “challenging” members serve a very real purpose here in keeping these comments from becoming a simple echo chamber of any one set of beliefs. I’m pretty happy with it.

      That said, I am writing comment number 145 on this page, and I just gotta ask, anonymous coward and Elfguy… when are two gonna get jobs?