How WikiLeaks became what it claims to oppose

The latest WikiLeaks outrage — the publication of 250,000 confidential U.S. State Department cables, complete with the names of thousands of U.S. informants living in oppressive regimes — is summarized well in this article by Spiegel International. For more background, a former WikiLeaks employee writes at the Guardian about the corrupt, secretive and unaccountable culture within the organization.

This excerpt about Belarus, otherwise known as Europe’s last dictatorship, illustrates perfectly how the WikiLeaks gang has undermined its own alleged principles:

Dismay mounted, however, with the arrival of Israel Shamir, a self-styled Russian “peace campaigner” with a long history of antisemitic writing. Shamir was introduced to the [WikiLeaks] team under the pseudonym Adam, and it was only several weeks after he had left –- with a huge cache of unredacted cables –- that most of us started to find out who he was.

Press enquiries started to trickle in. A little research revealed his unsavoury history, but I was told Julian [Assange, founder of WikiLeaks] would be unwilling for WikiLeaks to publish anything critical of Shamir. Instead, shamefully, we put out a statement simply distancing WikiLeaks from him.

There followed even more damning allegations. Shamir had been seen leaving the interior ministry of Belarus, an eastern European dictatorship.

The next day, the country’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, boasted he would start a Belarusian WikiLeaks showing the US was funding his political rivals.

Scores of arrests of opposition activists followed the country’s elections –- but Shamir wrote a piece painting an idyllic picture of free, fair, elections in a happy country.

Human rights groups demanded answers, amid fears that Belarus may have received material from the cables. No answers were supplied. Julian would not look into the matter.

The part later in the article about WikiLeaks’ insistence that the former employee sign a non-disclosure agreement would be delicious irony if the organization didn’t have so much blood on its hands.

The chief lessons of WikiLeaks are two-fold: First, as Hot Air’s Allahpundit observes:

Wikileaks has become the authoritarian’s best friend, not only leading state police straight to the doorsteps of informants but giving potential informants every reason to keep their mouths shut when it comes to exposing their government’s crimes.

This is not a studied neutrality, or allegiance only to truth. It is for all intents and purposes making a value judgment in favor of authoritarian regimes over democratic ones. To deny this is to deny reality.

And second, Assange and his co-conspirators, rather than proving the merits of transparency, have simply demonstrated the danger of letting a small group of unaccountable people wield control over information. They are guilty of everything they accuse governments (but mostly the U.S. government) of doing, and more.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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[...] How WikiLeaks became what it claims to opposeAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The latest WikiLeaks outrage — the publication of 250000 confidential US State Department cables, complete with the names of thousands of US informants living in oppressive regimes — is summarized well in this article by Spiegel International. …Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaksCBS NewsNew Legal Questions For Assange In AustraliaVoice of AmericaAustralia not preparing to prosecute AssangeAFPEvening Standard -The Irrawaddy News Magazine -New Scientist (blog)all 57 news articles » [...]

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
12:27 pm

Wikileaks is what happens when really stupid people decide that they know what is best for government information in regards to the citizen’s “right” to know.

Hillbilly D

September 5th, 2011
1:04 pm

This is not a studied neutrality, or allegiance only to truth. It is for all intents and purposes making a value judgment in favor of authoritarian regimes over democratic ones. To deny this is to deny reality.

It’s also what happens when an ego gets out of control. In my opinion, this is all about Assange’s ego, while hiding behind a supposed principle. He doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process; it’s all about him.

mike

September 5th, 2011
1:18 pm

Interesting since this government has long done things undercover whether legal or mostly illegal over the years. I guess as long as there was no public knowledge then these things were okay to do.

MarkV

September 5th, 2011
1:30 pm

“They are guilty of everything they accuse governments (but mostly the U.S. government) of doing, and more.”

Kyle,
It is very difficult, and generally not advisable, to make judgment about “who is more wrong.” What yardstick do you use for wrongness?

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
1:36 pm

Putting people in harm’s way by leaking their identities is wrong.

There is no “more” wrong or any yardstick in this instance. You do not EVER harm others in that name of open government.

People who leak information that ends up imprisoning or killing other people in the name of “full disclosure” should be imprisoned for life with no access to any media whatsoever.

MarkV

September 5th, 2011
1:42 pm

It is often morally wrong what the government does. Just like not everything the government does is wrong, not everything Wikileaks does is wrong.

Hillbilly D

September 5th, 2011
1:42 pm

Putting people in harm’s way by leaking their identities is wrong.

In my opinion, that’s just common decency. When people can die because of one’s actions, one ought to stop and think.

killerj

September 5th, 2011
1:45 pm

World power is a funny thing eh kyle? Places we should not be in the first place? Thanks for letting us know how underhanded our Government really is…….. ?.The tax payers in this demoralized United States need to know just how far and out of control mongers in this country have gone to far to exploit the American people for power across the world for their own gains.Go Tea Party.

Jefferson

September 5th, 2011
2:06 pm

When the Bush admin had staffers outing CIA agents it didn’t seem so bad to Rove, Cheney and that crowd. I didn’t know you folks felt it was so wrong.

jt

September 5th, 2011
2:26 pm

As per the intelligence level of your typical Republican or Democrat voter…………………..if you aren’t doing anything wrong………….what do you have to fear?
.
If that logic is good enough for the citizen………….isn’t it good enough for our rulers?
.
Or…………….is a Wingfield government above the law?

Sonts

September 5th, 2011
2:36 pm

Wikileaks doesn’t have blood on their hands, even Robert Gates admitted that. People who hate Wikileaks say that, even though it isn’t true, as a way to discredit the organization and direct attention away from the actual atrocities the organization exposes. They have made some mistakes but there is no reason to think anything was intentional.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
2:36 pm

“When the Bush admin had staffers outing CIA agents it didn’t seem so bad to Rove, Cheney and that crowd.”

Oh, you mean where a person claiming to be an “agent”, who was really just a “staffer” claimed to be “outed” by Rove, Cheney and Libby, none of whom were ever charged with doing so, and every civil suit filed against them have been dismissed?

THAT media-generated “outing”, Jefferson?

She was no more a CIA agent as I am.

Man Behind the Curtain

September 5th, 2011
2:42 pm

bet you’d love to receive some wikileaks that cast Obama in a poor light

Jefferson

September 5th, 2011
3:16 pm

You can pay someone off to have a suit dismissed, can’t you?

Jefferson

September 5th, 2011
3:16 pm

I guess you didn’t realy care after all, faux patriots…

Dusty

September 5th, 2011
3:36 pm

For goodness sakes,

WikiLeaks is nothing but an aid to terrorism against the USA. Or you could say they are terrorists.

If they were not an illegal, criminal breaching, undercover, crook-led outfit why are they hiding their work and not doing it legally? The answer is: they are criminals. Their criminal leader will soon be extradicted to Sweden from house arrest in the UK because of his personal proclivites.

So all you supporters of a group working against the USA, be proud of yourselves. You are now a full time subversive by supporting those who work against the USA.

Sonts

September 5th, 2011
4:15 pm

They have made all sorts of powerful people and governments angry by bringing to light things that powerful people and governments would rather have concealed. They want these things concealed for no other reason than to maintain their grip on power at the expense of everybody else. If you think holding powerful people accountable (by bringing to light information that people need to have to make informed decisions) is a crime than they are public enemy number 1 in your authority-loving world. Wikileaks hasn’t been charged with a crime, yet your whole opinion of them rests on the belief that they have. Really sad.

Shavarious

September 5th, 2011
4:57 pm

Yeah it’s too bad some more government secrets are seeing the light of day but I too am going to come down on the side of WikiLeaks.

I guess one’s idealogical orientation determines how they view Wiki. Kyle dislikes them because they threaten the established order, whereas his neighbor Bookman probably views them as heroes.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
5:19 pm

“Bookman probably views them as heroes”
———————

As long as they’re doing damage to U.S. interests, yes.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
5:22 pm

I kind of like our government having secrets, such as the name of informers inside of terrorist organizations.

I’m not sure why releasing such valuable information gives libtards a hard-on. Must have something to do with their desire to “fundamentally transform” our country from a strong one to a weak one.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
5:26 pm

Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa had some profane, combative words for Republicans while warming up the crowd for President Obama in Detroit, Michigan on Monday.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out”
—————————

Civility, Obama style.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
5:52 pm

Governments, by their very nature, must have some secrets. Especially in regards to certain foreign policy initiatives. But as with everything, government secrets must be limited in scope. Not everything needs to be classified.

But Wikileaks simply goes too far. The reason why secrets are kept is usually to protect assets being used. To disclose assets specifically, or to disclose certain secondary contacts or means can put those assets in jeopardy.

Sonts posts as someone who has obviously never seen firsthand the results and the people involved with covert actions.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
5:56 pm

Democrats: The real “bitter clingers”, clinging to their union cards and EBT cards.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 5th, 2011
6:09 pm

A defense official familiar with jihadist strategy said Islamists likely will emerge in power from the turmoil expected after the demise of the Gadhafi regime and the West will be partly to blame.

“We’re helping pave the way for them” through NATO airstrikes and other support, he said.

iman obozo, a lunatic terrorists BFF.

Mako

September 5th, 2011
6:14 pm

Enter your comments here

Sonts

September 5th, 2011
6:35 pm

If you read about this latest leak (or any of the others) you would know that Wikileaks completely agrees that the names of informants should not be released. The reason it happened this time was because of a complicated series of events involving several people including the Guardian journalist and Wikileaks basically not doing a good enough job of securing information. One of the reasons why it takes Wikileaks some time to release information typically is because they have to go through lots of documents to make sure nobody will get hurt who is cooperating with investigations.

Is it too much to ask people to actually read the articles and know what they’re talking about if they want to criticize Wikileaks, or is the reflex to jump on anyone who says something critical about the U.S. too strong?

Hypocrite Hunter

September 5th, 2011
6:38 pm

Pentagon Papers, Teapot Dome, Tammany Hall, Nathan Deal’s car lots, Sonny Perdue’s land deals…you betcha better not let these leakers loose. Heaven knows what would happen to that wonderful government of ours if you indiscriminately allow people to shine flashlights into shadowy corners. I think Nixon tried to treat Daniel Ellsberg as a terrorist,.too.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
6:51 pm

“The reason it happened this time was because of a complicated series of events involving several people including the Guardian journalist and Wikileaks basically not doing a good enough job of securing information.”

Sonts, if you can’t control the information properly, you shouldn’t be in the business of trying to obtain it. Their stated policy doesn’t matter one damned bit if they can’t DO what they say they will do.

And just because we aren’t giving them the pass that you are, doesn’t mean we haven’t read or understood the article.

Sonts

September 5th, 2011
7:17 pm

So far no one has been hurt by information Wikileaks has released. Checking coporate and governmental power is so important and so lacking today that when someone actually steps up to do it, they need to be supported. Careless mistakes are not okay, but to this point the good outweighs the bad. In other words if it weren’t for Wikileaks there would be a lot we wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t want to trade that because some mistakes we made by a well-meaning organization that will likely only make fewer mistakes as it gains experience.

“But Wikileaks simply goes too far. The reason why secrets are kept is usually to protect assets being used. To disclose assets specifically, or to disclose certain secondary contacts or means can put those assets in jeopardy.” – Tiberius – Your lightning rod of hate

“I kind of like our government having secrets, such as the name of informers inside of terrorist organizations. I’m not sure why releasing such valuable information gives libtards a hard-on. Must have something to do with their desire to “fundamentally transform” our country from a strong one to a weak one.” – Lil’ Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

Both of the above quotes seem to indicate some people actually think it’s Wikileaks goal to disclose the identification of informants or other assets and it’s not.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
7:43 pm

“So far no one has been hurt by information Wikileaks has released.”

Really? You keep up on the thousands of people “outed” by the release of these documents, do you? Have your fingers in the pulse of each country, Sonts?

“Careless mistakes are not okay, but to this point the good outweighs the bad.”

Bet you wouldn’t say that if your role as an informant / agent were known to everyone.

“In other words if it weren’t for Wikileaks there would be a lot we wouldn’t know.”

What, specifically, do you know now that you didn’t know or suspected before, Sonts?

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
7:47 pm

“Both of the above quotes seem to indicate some people actually think it’s Wikileaks goal to disclose the identification of informants or other assets and it’s not.”

Anybody can have a stated goal, Sonts, but just because you have stated it doesn’t mean you intend to follow it, nor guarantees that you will. Based on my knowledge of the dirt-bag known as Julian Assange, I think it is very likely he doesn’t care if he puts people in harms way, so long as he can get publicity for himself, and embarrass this country.

getalife

September 5th, 2011
8:02 pm

Yeah, outing CIA agents is bad.

Ask Joe Wilson and his wife.

Hypocrites.

Julian

September 5th, 2011
8:03 pm

It’s not your job to decide if wikileaks has become what it claims to oppose, or if they are evil or not. As a journalist you should just report stories, and let your audience come up with their own conclusions. Unless you are a “yellow” journalist…

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
8:09 pm

Valerie Plame was about as much of a CIA agent as you are, getaclue.

With much better – legs.

@@

September 5th, 2011
8:09 pm

Wiki’s intent was to keep their supporters enthralled while tyrants exact their revenge.

Their supporters, in my opinion, are complicit in any deaths or torture that may have occurred against the whistleblowers.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 5th, 2011
8:10 pm

Hey Julian, you need to educate yourself on the difference between news and opinion pieces.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
8:10 pm

Julian, Kyle is an opinion columnist, not a journalist in the strictest sense.

Therefore, he has latitude in providing his own conclusions.

You should learn the difference.

@@

September 5th, 2011
8:11 pm

I include the NYTimes as an accomplice. Not the first time they’ve aided and abetted.

Streetracer

September 5th, 2011
8:35 pm

Seems to me that anyone who “outs” an asset is, if that person gets killed, just as guilty of murder as whoeever actually pulled the trigger. If it were a relative of mine, that’s they way I would take it.

David

September 5th, 2011
9:08 pm

Wikileaks has always been what it claims to oppose; however, that does not negate the fact the government should be more careful about protecting classified and sensitive information.

Jefferson

September 5th, 2011
9:27 pm

You are flat wrong about Plame or are lying, one or the other. I think the latter.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
9:28 pm

David, there are a whole bunch of folks INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT who are more than happy to leak classified, damaging information. This happened all the time when our President Bush was engaging in the war on terror, and the America-hating left leaked details of our anti-terror programs in order to weaken them. These people are called “Democrats”.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 5th, 2011
9:29 pm

Plame was a desk jockey at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, VA. She “outed” herself every day when she drove through the main gate.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

September 5th, 2011
9:59 pm

Sorry, Jefferson, but when you’re married to a high-profile diplomat, and work at CIA headquarters for years every day of the week, you aren’t even close to being a covert agent.

Now with Ten Percent More Flavor

September 5th, 2011
10:05 pm

Can you just imagine what that head of FOX news, what’s his name, Murdoch, is that right, could have done with reams of leaked papers all to himself. It’s mind boggling.

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