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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Two Julian Assange and Wikileaks articles of note

There are plenty of stories doing the rounds on Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Following are two that I consider notable for their accessibility and precision.

The first is "The Shameful attacks on Julian Assange" by David Samuels in The Atlantic. He clearly states why the vast majority of traditional media can hang their snivelling little heads in shame for their spineless bandwagonning against Wikileaks.

"It is dispiriting and upsetting for anyone who cares about the American tradition of a free press to see Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gibbs turn into H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman and John Dean."

"Assange may or may not be grandiose, paranoid and delusional ... But the fact that so many prominent old school journalists are attacking him with such unbridled force is a symptom of the failure of traditional reporting methods to penetrate a culture of official secrecy that has grown by leaps and bounds since 9/11, and threatens the functioning of a free press as a cornerstone of democracy."

"It is a fact of the current media landscape that the chilling effect of threatened legal action routinely stops reporters and editors from pursuing stories that might serve the public interest - and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying."

The second story is by Julian Assange himself. "Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths" appears in The Australian. He talks of a new journalism called Scientific Journalism where you can click on the original document that spurned a story and make your own judgements.

A part of the story that I find particularly appealing is a summary of what the US diplomatic cables have revealed:

  • The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
  • King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.
  • Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.
  • Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".
  • Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
  • The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
 Personally, I'd rather have the truth than pollywaffle.

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