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version seven. - All Day, Permanent Red

All Day, Permanent Red

In which I express my deep revulsion at the recent coverage of WikiLeaks.

Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010 | On the Internet, Politics, Zona Roja

I’ve been waiting for someone to do this for 40 years.

Daniel Ellsberg

The WikiLeaks coverage this week has been disgusting.

Thanks to the publication of stolen US State Department documents, this week it was revealed that the US federal government has very recently been engaged in various sorts of transgressions against an assortment of organizations and sovereign states. As a consequence of these publishing activities, an international group of influential people from all points of the political compass have stepped forward and made it publicly known that they are willing to use their legal and political influence to rewrite any law or treaty that might prevent the American government from exacting revenge against the publishers of those documents.

It has been disgusting to watch as the publication of the cables was described by an ever-widening circle of First World government authorities as a transgression so utterly heinous that it demanded the abandonment of the very concept of a free press. To watch one's own federal government declare that, effective immediately, it and it alone will be the final authority in who in the world is allowed to publish what must necessarily cause a free person's bile to rise.

It has been disgusting to watch as these influential people applied themselves to the writing of letters and speeches describing a literally murderous hostility towards the very concept of unregulated publishing as a check on government. To watch the leaders of the free world condemn the responsibility of the Fourth Estate to prevent governments from acting without the knowledge and thus the consent of those consenting to be governed must necessarily inspire deep revulsion.

It has been disgusting to watch as professional politicians and journalists alike stepped forward to publicly demand the immediate redrafting of any and all laws and statutes that might stand in the way of prosecuting future publications as criminal acts.

It has been disgusting and I fully expect that it will only get worse.

Brothers in Arms

Putting aside the usual vitriol from the rogues' gallery of belligerent cable news culture-warriors who customarily traffic in the basest sorts of infotainment demagoguery, this week saw a broad range of generally responsible news outlets apply themselves to the deployment of a raft of unethical and illogical arguments intended to float a host of weighty condemnations ranging from the plainly idiotic to the deeply disgraceful. That most professional journalists spent the week cowering in fear of government reprisal--barely able to even to muster ambivalence in most cases, let alone skepticism or criticism, and blithely passing along some truly vile anti-journalistic sentiment from their governors--is reviling. It is reviling because it speaks of a press so integrated with and beholden to its government that it is willing to tolerate egregious and gratuitous attacks on fellow journalists in order to preserve that cozy familiarity.

On the one hand, everyone from Fox to NPR has been too happy to publish stories based on information contained in the WikiLeaks cables, but not a single mainstream media source has expressed anything resembling gratitude for the windfall of primary documents or the lies that those documents exposed. That, it appears, would have been too substantial a show of professional solidarity. Most mainstream media outlets have simply run WikiLeaks on the front page--after all, if it bleeds it leads--and then cravenly hedged their bets by using their well-buried editorial back pages to condemn the whistle-blower site.

And while falling all over themselves to pit both ends against the middle, most of these same media outlets haven't even caught their breath long enough to run a footnote on the potential value of these stolen documents for those who will one day write history. An intelligent conversation about the genuine historical novelty of an unelected group of international citizens who expose the secret communications of a government that is still in power at the time of the exposure is about as likely to materialize in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal as I am to ride my unicorn to the office on Monday.

On the other hand, since last Monday (2010-11-29), you will likely have observed a rush from all quarters of the body politic to not only make political hay by condemning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, but to make just plain offensive statements about the value of ideas like due process by law, the Fourth Estate and national sovereignty. You will have observed this rush because it was extremely well-covered by that same media who spent the entire week up to their elbows in business thanks to WikiLeaks.

If you had your ear to the wire this week, you heard all types of people from all over the world--all the way from heads of state to talking heads and back again--calling for assassinations, state-enforced censorship and the repeal of well-established pieces of US criminal and international law. If you were listening, you heard American people talking in apparent earnest about how publishing diplomatic memoranda justifies everything from the kidnapping and summary execution of foreign nationals to the abolition the accepted conventions of free publishing.

If you were paying attention at all this week, you heard an unselfconscious and unashamed media hypocritically egging on a bloodthirsty electorate to use any and all means silence international voices of peaceful political opposition.

I you were listening, and you heard the Fourth Estate put its collective foot in its mouth and then start to pump round after round into that foot, you had to be wondering what I have been wondering.

What the fuck is wrong with you people?

Working Girls

Anyone who can crack double digits on your garden variety IQ assessment will quickly confirm that Sarah Palin is a demented, vainglorious twit whose bilious vapidity and dubious infotainment celebrity status have become, for better or for worse, a feature of the contemporary American media-scape. It is a given that her response to any current event will probably be about as ill-conceived and generally odious as pretty much everything else that she does.1

But who would have guessed that the prime minister of Canada could have turned out to have such an incredibly huge dick-wad as his right hand man?
It is not just the Americans who are demanding blood. Tom Flanagan, a senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, issued what has been described as a fatwa against Assange, on the Canadian TV station CBC.

"I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," he said. "I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something." Flanagan chuckled as he made the comment but did not retract it when questioned, adding: "I wouldn't feel unhappy if Assange does disappear."
Honestly, I wouldn't call you naive if you told me that you would have expected a more refined opinion--or at least a more circumspect choice of words--from a senior advisor to the PM of a first-world nation known for its progressive regulatory schemes, its modern, single-payer healthcare system and its reputation for political and social earnestness.

But, as I have been saying, this WikiLeaks business has brought out the worst in our professional political class. And though anti-WikiLeaks rhetoric is generally at its most depraved in conservative sound bytes and talking points, even our famously cold-blooded Democratic Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, popped up to denounce the controversial website with hysterical, bellicose hyperbole that has little or nothing to do with reality:
This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy; it is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.
Never mind that one of the main revelations of the cables concerned Clinton's instructions to her diplomatic corps that they should be gathering sensitive personal and security information, including credit card numbers and passwords to secure networks, to help compile better CIA intelligence dossiers on members of the UN.

Neglecting to mention any of her own State Department's attacks on the "community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations" of a body theoretically dedicated to international transparency and honest-dealing in the name of security and economic prosperity, Clinton went on to insist that WL "puts people's lives in danger", and call for all people to re-describe the publisher as therefore beyond the protections historically afforded to all publishers.

Furthermore, it is not just Clinton who, having been caught in flagrante, has something like a personal stake in couching retributive rhetoric in specious logic. She has the whole apparatus of the American State Department now trying to massage the talking points and make the case for proscription:
QUESTION: From your perspective, what is WikiLeaks? How do you define them, if it is not a media organization, then?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as the Secretary said earlier this week, it is – one might infer it has many characteristics of some internet sites. Not every internet site you would call a media organization or a news organization. We're focused on WikiLeaks's behavior, and I have had personally conversations with media outlets that are reporting on this, and we have had the opportunity to express our specific concerns about intelligence sources and methods and other interests that could put real lives at risk.

...So I think there's been a very different approach. And Mr. Assange obviously has a particular political objective behind his activities, and I think that, among other things, disqualifies him as being considered a journalist.
The phrase "different approach" doesn't even begin to describe it.

The American State Department, who was up until very recently in the business of running UN diplomats as spies, just declared that it no longer considers any media-related activity with a "particular political objective behind" it to be journalism. Hillary Clinton's State Department took the opportunity this week to make it clear that when details of the secret, illegal activities by her agency are published by parties who find those activities objectionable, those parties should not expect, going forward, that they will have recourse to any legal protections, regardless of their citizenship.

In short, our Secretary of State just told us that she will now be deciding which foreign nationals will be called a "journalists" and which will be called "criminals" based upon what sorts of materials they choose to publish.

Seriously: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Spy Vs. Spy

But rather than rehashing the already well-published and familiar media debate about whether WikiLeaks puts "real lives at risk" when it exposes diplomats as spies or how the cables might one way or another contribute to incipient and hypothetical murderousness in Who-Knows-Where2, let's get one thing straight: whatever murderousness might or might not be held in check by American state secrets is a lot less relevant to the health, wealth and well-being of most of the world's people than the actual, real, happening-right-now-on-television murderousness that has got the Internet going nuts ever since WikiLeaks activated http://cablegate.wikileaks.org3 last week.

Complimenting the chorus of opportunistic American politicians who spent the week attempting to declare war on a website or clamoring for the assassination of foreign nationals or advocating government censorship in response to Julian Assange and his contemptuous treatment of the US State Department, there is a similarly bloodthirsty and incoherent constituency to be found aping the disorderly conduct of their elected officials and preferred pundits on call-in radio shows and practically any place where an article is followed by a comments section.

This no-name half-wits yammering indignantly on about "treason" and "the Espionage Act" seem, in nine cases out of ten, not interested enough to have bothered to click enough links to learn that Julian Assange a.) isn't an American and b.) that the Espionage Act of 1917, a relic of World War I that has been thoroughly litigated in the intervening century, specifically does not pertain to the publication of secret documents.

It goes, of course, without saying that the dimwits out there in TV-land who are engaging in these patriotic hissy-fits and armchair litigation do not possess a fraction of the intellectual or emotional wherewithal to stop for a second consider that while it takes some formidable leaps of logic to call Jullian Assange a spy, it doesn't exactly take a trained legal eagle to conclude that the State Department's leaked cables calling for actual spying (in the form of instructions to UN diplomats to acquire the passwords and other access credentials of UN representatives) clearly violate the UN's contractual rules pertaining to the inviolability of diplomatic codes, pouches and messages.

Indeed, if the scads of private citizens raging at Jullian Assange on talk radio or their blogs could remember anything that happened more than 15 minutes ago, they would be able to recall last month, when the WL release of the Iraq and Afghanistan action summaries inspired dozens of professional-grade write-ups of the legal impossibility of prosecuting Assange with the Act:
Further, Section794 sets out specific information that is prohibited such as troop and ship “movement[s]” and military “plans,” emphasizing future missions, while the Iraq and Afghanistan leaks consisted of after-action reports about what had already taken place. In other words: history.

Regardless of the specificity of Section 794, there is no proof the documents have led to any harm of U.S. soldiers. Although Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said Wikileaks will have “blood on its hands,” the Pentagon later admitted, “We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the Wikileaks documents.” Admittedly, that U.S. forces haven't be harmed by the publication of these documents yet is not guarantee against a harm yet to come. Still, it is worth noting that despite the hysteria of the conservatives, and their predictions of disaster resulting from Wikileaks' leaks, we know of no ramifications from the publication whatsoever.
But, as anyone paying attention will tell you, this isn't about the Rule of Law or Crime and Punishment. It is about a contagious anger at journalistic protections which seems to have begun with America's elected officials, been spread to our unelected pundits and which has now started to drive private citizens into ad hoc mobs of book-burning, anti-journalistic, pro-censorship vigilantes all over the world.

And, inevitably, the savvier members of this hastily astroturfed lynchmob are beating the war drum out here in the blogoshere as well. I happened across this little gem on the
I suspect sufficient legal bases already exist for whatever presidential findings, authorizations, and orders would be needed to be given to intelligence agencies, the military, and federal investigative agencies to do what they need to do to defeat WikiLeaks. But perhaps not. In any case, there's one institution that can quickly find out. Congress has just come back into session. Congress can have emergency hearings—in closed session, if necessary—to find out if the executive branch has the necessary means to defeat WikiLeaks. If it doesn't, Congress can provide additional means and authorities to those that already exist.
What can a sane person say to someone who, without a scrap of irony, advocates the convocation of a star chamber of legislators whose goal is to secretly rewrite federal laws to outlaw certain publishers based on the content they publish?

These people are insane. They are demented.

One thing they are not, however, is worth debating. They are also not nearly as delusional as the guy who wants to sit down and try to explain to one of these maniacs that a defiant, cantankerous press is a necessity in a liberal democracy and that you can't just throw the law books and however many years of legal precedent out the airlock whenever you decide that you don't like someone's tone or the fact that he disagrees deeply with American foreign policy.

Honestly: what happened? What went wrong here? What the fuck is wrong with you people?

From Main Street to Wall Street

To condemn the tone or the content in the blogosphere is not, in this unusual case, to say that the tone or the content is not to be condemned in the mainstream media. In fact, in the case of this week's WikiLeaks coverage, it is not even safe to assume that you're likely to find a more coherent argument against WikiLeaks in a major paper than you are on some dude's WordPress.

The mainstream, professional media, likely embarrassed in equal parts about lefty bloggers like Glenn Greenwald pointing out their utter failure to do their jobs and the bruised egos of the American political elite whose interests they view it as their sworn duty to uphold and protect, kept busy this week publishing their own indictments of Assange.

And not a one of these rose above the level of contempt. For, even if they were slightly more articulate than the blog-rants, the professional condemnations issued this week were every bit as irrational and irresponsible.

Epitomizing this sort of flim-flammery was no lesser a publication than the Wall Street Journal. WSJ offers the utterly unconvincing argument that Assange, while complying with the letter of the Espionage Act, is clearly defying its spirit, and therefore we ought to throw 100 years of legal precedent out the window in order to stop him:
Mr. Assange is clearly trying to protect himself ... by inviting the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel to be his co-publishers. Newspapers used to understand that the right of the First Amendment implied some publishing self-restraint. But as publishers ourselves, we nonetheless worry that indicting a bad actor like Mr. Assange under an ambiguous statute would set a precedent that could later be used against journalists.

One alternative would be for Congress and the Administration to collaborate on writing a new statute aimed more precisely at provocateurs like Mr. Assange. At a minimum, the Administration should throw the book at those who do the leaking, including the option of the death penalty. That would probably give second thoughts to the casual spy or to leakers who fancy themselves as idealists.

...Surely, the U.S. government can do more to stop him than send a stiff letter.
Sound familiar?

WSJ wants to throw Assange to the wolves because his publishing endeavors go too far in challenging the established political order and might jeopardize the good terms that exist between that order and mainstream, establishment journalists. Additionally, WSJ is A-OK with re-writing the rules in order to more effectively prosecute dissenters.

For some reason, WikiLeaks has managed to inspire the same thoroughly illogical, short-sighted and murderous reactions at all quarters. Writers and politicians; amateurs and professionals; across the board: something about WikiLeaks has made so many people so furious that they are talking seriously about burning the Fourth Estate to the ground in order to smoke out a single rat.

And the thing is, WSJ isn't even the worst.4 Professional media outlets across this land--indeed, all over the Earth--are spilling gallons of ink in favor of the privilege (Latin: literally, "private law") of the US government to stamp out dissent wherever it crops up.

Again--what the fuck?

Restoring Sanity...Sort of. Well, No, Not at All Really

Considering the global media, it bears mentioning that avowed progressives, leftists and agitators like Chomsky, Hitchens and Greenwald have not cornered the market on responsible, sane responses to the publication of the diplomatic cables and the WikiLeaks phenomenon.

In fact, some of the reasonable, productive reactions have even come from the desks of known and trusted political conservatives, such as US Defense Secretary Gates:
I've heard the impact of [Wikileaks's] releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.
Gates' assessment--an assessment that we are all supposed to trust as authoritative and sufficiently circumspect by virtue of his office and the access it provides--is essentially that America is too big to fail and, furthermore, that huge losses of political capital will not be sufficient to break America's diplomatic bank.

Fair enough.

Gates is certainly making the case that America is exceptional, but I would not go so far as to label Gates' statement an expression of the thing that is generally called American Exceptionalism: if traditional American Exceptionalism holds that America is qualitatively or essentially different from other nations and therefore may claim various sorts of privileges, Gates, if somewhat standoffish, is pragmatic on WikiLeaks and his American Exceptionalism is quantitative. Basically, it's a numbers game--America holds a lot of chips--and like it or not, when you hold a lot of chips, you bet higher and you check oftener.

(And, frankly, I sort of like the cut of his jib: with all of the naive, bombastic declamations going back and forth, it is nice to see a guy with legit credentials and an OG conservative bent inject a little reality into the situation.)

I would, however, argue that qualitative American Exceptionalism is to be found in many of the more extreme criticisms that have been made of WL since the diplomatic cables were published, including the ones I have described above from WSJ and Hillary Clinton's State Department.

To the sort of person who despises the very idea of free publishing as a check on political authority, Gates' assessment does not sound anything like the qualitative American Exceptionalism that they're used to hearing about at their Tea Party rallies and in Sarah Palin's tweets. To people who truly believe in a qualitative American Exceptionalism, the argument that America's diplomats are too big to fail doesn't hit the dog-whistle note that they hear when Palin starts in on how we ought to hunt Assange down like the Taliban. This is because Tea Party-style, qualitative American Exceptionalism, to the ones who believe in it and who insist upon it in the way that Tea Party conservatives do, does not mean that America is too big to fail.

Rather, that sort of American Exceptionalism holds not only that American is too big too fail, but that because of some special, essential American quality American foreign policy is too sacred to so much as question, let alone directly oppose.5 And that sort of reviling, jingoist bullshit is exactly what drives the WSJ's editorial response and Crowley's elaborations on Hillary Clinton's initial reaction to the publication of the cables.

Write Your CongressCritter

Bracketing the politics of American Exceptionalism in 2010 and getting back to the idea of someone like Gates as the epitome of a sane conservative response, I would be remiss if I failed to reiterate that responsible voices and sane reactions were conspicuously absent last week.

Towards the insane end of the lopsided spectrum of conservative responses, you had those like WSJ who were calling Assange a spy solely on account of the fact that he has written publicly about his personal dislike for US foreign policy: demonstrating this sort of animus, the argument goes, in combination his instrumental role in the spread of classified materials to the general public constitutes an act of international espionage.

Conservatives leveling this sort of criticism at Julian Assange are clearly trying to make a sort of reverse Procrustes out of him, apprehending him and then stretching his words and deeds to fit the vague and non-applicable wording of the Espionage Act. But since that half-baked attempt at legitimating their personal outrage at Assange's petulance must seems just as idiotic to the people making it as it does to people like me who spent so many hours this week having to endure the rehearsal of it, you'll generally find that it is only the preface to another logic-defying attempt to legitimate the criminal prosecution of a journalist based on a moronic syllogism that goes like this: In short, WL is working with Al Qaeda, along with RIM, Google and...Jesus Christ, I can't even go on: it literally hurts the brain of a sane person to have to rehearse these sorts of asinine non-arguments.6

There are, of course, those whose brains will never sprain when afflicted with these sorts of intellectual contortions. Indeed, there are some who actually seem to prefer this kind of "thinking".

As part of his measuring-the-drapes routine, the newly elected and soon-to-be Chairman of the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee, New York Republican Peter King, is already going around telling people (namely the US Attorney General) about his brilliant, innovative plans to capture Assange and thereby to cut off the head of the snake. From
By the sheer volume of the classified materials released, rendering harm to the United States seems inevitable and perhaps irreversible. Moreover, the repeated releases of classified information from WikiLeaks, which have garnered international attention, manifests Mr. Assange's purposeful intent to damage not only our national interests in fighting the war on terror, but also undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Department of Defense has explicitly recognized, WikiLeaks' dissemination of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents affords material support to terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Shabaab.
Whether or not any of that makes any kind of logical sense (hint: it doesn't), the tone of King's letter to USAG Holder smacks of the inefficient, inaccurate and frequently illegal strategery of proud torturer George W Bush, doesn't it?

"If we spend just a little bit more public money and sacrifice just a few more civil liberties to catch the one special guy, we will kill his evil terrorist movement and finally be able to protect the Homeland from threats to our financial prosperity and personal liberties."

Peter King's plan to squelch WL is nothing more than a lame rehash of embarrassing, traumatic and thoroughly disproved and debunked Bush-era pablum. If there is a difference between King in 2010 and Bush in 2003, the difference is that the extensively discredited "logic" of the War on Terror is, in King's case, being applied to a guy who hasn't even masterminded a single homicidal terrorist plot, let alone the hundreds that we customarily accredit to a hoarse old Saudi on dialysis. King's moronic letters to Eric Holder et al., in the final analysis, smack of a facepalm-inducing bathos that would indeed be funny if assholes like Pete King hadn't already dragged us into to two wars that have to-date wasted trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives.

If the name "Pete King" sounds familiar, it is probably because King is that same shitbird whose self-righteous gloating you may have accidentally stepped in while reading the numerous articles from this last week about how Amazon dropped WikiLeaks from its EC2 servers or about how members of Congress have been encouraging mainstream American media to refer to WikiLeaks as a "terrorist organization".

King had this to say when Amazon finally caved to pressure from the US government and booted WL off its piece of the cloud:
"It is unfortunate that it took Amazon five months to terminate its relationships with WikiLeaks, and only after having political pressure applied...While I wish that Amazon had taken this step when US soldiers' lives were first put in danger by WikiLeaks back in July, I am heartened that the company has finally corrected its action."
Real Talk: it should offend anyone who has ever exercised any civil liberty in his entire life that a jowly numb-nuts like King is waddling around issuing harumphing, McCarthyist press releases intended to spin a disgusting and offensive piece of state-sponsored censorship brokered by eternal pariah Joe Lieberman into some kind of joint military-industrial victory in the American war against Afghanistan.7


Here's a real sentence about actual facts that does not call for anyone's assassination or the contravention of any Constitutional freedoms: American presidents, with the help of a diplomatic corps and a State Department that we now understand to be fully committed to suppressing free publishing wherever such publishing demands government accountability, have been spending a fortune stacking up bodies like cord wood in the Middle East for close to a decade now and they show no signs of stopping.

And somehow WikiLeaks is a problem that we should rewrite all the rules to solve?

WikiLeaks exposes the miscellaneous calumnies of an elected government who, by way of response, proceeds to display open contempt for the ideas of government accountability and a free press and somehow unregulated publishing on the Internet is the urgent problem?

What the fuck is wrong with you people?

  1. It makes a darkly comic sort of sense that a low-life like Sarah Palin is out there tweeting about how if Obama was a real man, he'd send in the marines and treat Julian Assange to a chest full of .223 caliber democracy. But then again, this is a woman who stood in land-locked Wasilla, Alaska in 2007 and imagined that just beyond its borders was a roiling communist insurgency, held in check by nothing more than American strength of arms.
    Which is, I suppose, simply to reiterate the well-established fact that Sarah Palin hasn't got a clue about international relations or the strategic application of military force.
  2. I am, to be honest, being obtuse here. I have read some early digests and skimmed some transcriptions, and there are good odds that Clinton is referring to the cables wherein plans are made to lie on behalf of the US Military:
    The confirmation in the cables that US military forces are indeed secretly operating on Pakistan's territory and that Yemen's president Abdullah Saleh felt it necessary to tell General Petraeus this year that he would carry on lying about US military operations against jihadists in his country – "we'll continue saying they are our bombs, not yours" – only emphasises how weak and illegitimate US props and allies are across the Muslim world.
    In addition to being embarrassing, such cables will almost certainly be circulated among Yemeni jihadis and used to turn people against the government that lied to them.
    I don't know about you, but I have a really tough time feeling bad for a motherfucker like Saleh who decided to cover for secret US attacks on his country--a country which we have no business attacking to begin with--by lying to his own parliament and people.
  3. This URL appears in italics and not in an anchor tag because, as of the time of this writing, it no longer exists, thanks to monster DDOS attack managed, allegedly, by an establishment stooge whose various public IP's are probably already all over /b/.
  4. Let us also not forget the deliberate and shameless smear-piece that the New York Times anf John Burns attempted to pass off as journalism back in October:
    Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.
    Let us also also not forget to read the hilarious reader reactions, where nearly every comment denounces Burns, NYT and this yellowest of journalism:
    Mr. Assange is guilty of one of the worst offenses in American culture: challenging deeply-held beliefs about the benevolence of American foreign policy with facts. It's no wonder that American media outlets immediately turn the spotlight onto him, and not the actual materials themselves.
  5. Schneier, fortunately, is there to take this idiocy seriously so that you don't have to: "Yes, the bad guys use it: bank robbers use cars to get away, drug smugglers use radios to communicate, child pornographers use e-mail. But the good guys use it, too, and the good uses far outweigh the bad uses."
  6. To the majority of those who have falling all over themselves to speak out against WL in general and this week's diplomatic leaks in particular, Gates simply is not doing American Exceptionalism right, i.e. the Sarah Palin way. And since he's not doing it right, I would argue that he therefore isn't really doing it at all.
    Doing it right, of course, would be to insist--with emphatic and threatening language--that these leaks are of the utmost political and legal significance for the sheer fact that anyone with the audacity to explicitly and unapologetically confront America's foreign policy agenda per se is a true an enemy of America as you're likely to find this side of Tora Bora.
  7. A war, incidentally, that we are still, while it remains profitable for the private contractors, heavily invested in the business of losing.