Sorting Out WikiLeaks & Julian Assange in a Swedish Television (English) Documentary of December 9.

(Out and proud. - promoted by Bob Neer)

 

Separating one’s nurtured nationalistic tendencies from one’s capacity for rational observation is difficult when those tendencies are viscerally invoked in  a global controversy, but sometimes all it takes is a perspective from a different nation to help us find our way.  Sweden has produced a television documentary that aired on the 9th of December dealing with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  One can hardly claim that, in the current environment regarding Assange’s legal status there, that Sweden is “pro” Assange, so the etiology, if not origins, of this production is difficult to assail.   As one who has read and watched virtually everything available on Assange and WikiLeaks, even going back to Assange’s youth, I think this presentation is accurate in large measure.  

Swedish television documentary of December 9 on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange WikiLeaks Rebels:  The Documentary

WARNING:  the graphic depictions in the war video are extremely difficult to watch and absolutely NOT for the faint of heart or children.   If you have only seen short videos of what happened in the Baghdad suburb, prepare yourself.   Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” too, from a Swedish perspective, makes a commentary, but I suspect that those in charge of editing this Swedish documentary are not likely to have been as aware of the visceral reaction many Americans would have to this piece of music post Viet Nam as one might be inclined to believe.  This is a Swedish Television production, though, after all.

Anyway, I’m interested–as I suspect Ryan will be–in hearing people’s reaction who have watched the entire hour.  If you find this link after the video is no longer available, you can find it on YouTube here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

The more Americans know about Julian Assange and the work of WikiLeaks in a global context, the better they will appreciate the arguments implicit in a context that makes Assange and WikiLeaks relevant and worthy or our support and unfailing respect.  

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  1. Huh

    Curious that Sweden focuses so much on Assange, whereas the government and people of Australia seem to have pretty much disowned their own citizen.  I'd expect Gilliard to try to duck out of protecting Assange, but the citizenry seems rather okay with it.

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • Actually, that's not accurate.

      Thousands turned out in Melbourne,, with little organizational effort,  to the surprise of even the media, to protest the treatment of Assange.  While Aussies are conservative by nature, there are elements that find the Gillard government nothing more than Bush redux and are unhappy about that.  Kevin Rudd is now (better late than never, I suppose) finding the courage as Foreign Minister to speak up on Assange's behalf and demanding that he be given access to a laptop in order to participate in his own defense, something he is entitled to under British law.  More protests are organized in the future, so watch for those who find Gillard's abandonment of Assange even too much for their conservative tastes.

      Indeed, the Australian organization Get Up has raised over $250,000 dollars in less than 2 weeks to place an ad in this Tuesday's New York Times to express their outrage at Assange's treatment.  That's not chump change.

      They're unhappy in Oz.  You just wouldn't know that if you didn't go looking to find out.  

      • Huh

        I based what I said on my consumption of Australia news.  I suppose it depends on your source -- Australian public tv estimates the crowd in the "hundreds" in this video.  This rally had a high profile in reports in The Age and ABC.  After all that, it was roughly the same size as today's crowd in Spain and tiny compared to protests over water management in NEw South Wales.

        As for Rudd, he's a wily one.  He's clearly expected Gilliard to blow up so he can re-enter the prime ministership.  Not at all an unlikely outcome.

        sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • Numbers can be debated, certainly.

          But I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that Oz citizens are "okay with" their government's treatment of Assange.  

          It's probably fair to say that the population is split, with more "okay" than not.  That said, however, one can still arrive at one's own opinion, irrespective of the media pablum fed to Western audiences by the bucketful.  Let's not forget that Daniel Ellsberg was crazy, after all.  

    • Here is a link to an Australian documentary

      filmed earlier this year.  It, too, is excellent, providing substantive insight into Assange and the work of WikiLeaks.  It's called The Whistleblower.

  2. Thank you for posting this

    I am appalled by our government's reaction to WikiLeaks. Appalled, disgusted, and concerned about what it portends for our future.

    I'd like to know how many of the DoS attacks against WikiLeaks originate in the US government, who controls that technology, and what constraints — if any — civilians exercise over it.

    Is this world-wide campaign against Julian Assange led by the US government? Who in the US government?

    What in blue blazes is going on here?

  3. Good & Bad

    Wikileaks is not all good and not all bad. I have been highly critical of Wikileaks and Assange for the release of the State Department cables, the extortionate threat to release the "thermonuclear device," i.e., the encrypted "insurance" archive, and the denial-of-service attacks mounted by its allies. Indeed, it was recently reported that Wikileaks allies have threatened to attack the Electronic Frontier Foundation! And of course, despite the fact that Wikileaks promotes a fairly absolutist "information wants to be free" ideology, Wikileaks and its allies are hardly transparent (e.g., Assange's refusal to disclose his address to a British court, the anonymous nature of the illegal denial-of-service attacks).

    But all that being said, I supported Wikileaks when it released the "Collateral Murder" video (though I didn't agree with the editorial slant). I think that in that case, Wikileaks was providing a tremendously important public service to the American public by showing us a part of what the war is really like. It's important for us to see that. And unlike diplomats, who need confidentiality in order to do their jobs just as lawyers do, I didn't see any significant legitimate interest in keeping the footage secret.

    TedF

    • Wikileaks is a new thing.

      Leaking is nothing new, but the scale and the dissemination of these leaks are unprecendented. (FACTOID: the leaks themselves were large and indiscriminate, but Wikileaks has only released a tiny fraction of what it received).

      Wikileaks has used the MSM to edit and limit what it has distributed and eventually posted, but the publication was not limited to the MSM; it's on Wikileaks site. There is filtering of the leaks, but it's much less decentralized than in Pentagon Paper days.

      Like TedF, I was somewhat pleased with the military leaks. I think there's a lot of propaganda in war and think more openness is a good thing. The diplomatic cables seemed sort of juvenile. A bit like reading someone's diary. I appreciated knowing some stuff, but I'm not sure the benefits outweighed the costs.

      The anarchist in me likes increased openness, but I'm not down with the extreme hacker ethos that all information should be free. Where to draw the line? Not with someone with CIA ties who seems to have departed for the Palestinian Territory.

      For good info and a civil libertarian perspective, see Glenn Greenwald's posts last week.  

      • Interpol Most Wanted?????

        A trumped-up charge from accusers like this ends up putting somebody (anybody!) at the top of the Interpol most wanted list? Arrest warrants in the UK? And this is supposed to be unrelated to his role in WikiLeaks?

        Why am I reminded of Paula Jones?

        Enough with the lies. I don't care who the President is, this is horse manure.

        Especially while George W. Bush and Dick Cheney face no charges on their many crimes against humanity, and while no prosecutions have emerged after the appalling politicization of the federal government, especially DoJ, during the prior administration.

        I'm getting seriously unhappy with the US government here. Seriously.

        • The Interpol thing is positively Orwellian.

          I guess Interpol has rounded up all the war criminals and international drug kingpins and have left to do but put up red notices for a guy wanted for questioning, not even arrest, on allegations of sexual misconduct with two adult women.  The world must be a safe place, indeed, if this is the sort of thing they can be bothered with.

        • Greenwald documents

          the lies the some in the MSM (Time, TNR) have been spreading the lie that Wikileaks doesn't vet stuff before it publishes it. (Greenwald)

          Greenwald quotes journalism prof Jay Rosen as saying seeing the government's treatment of Wikileaks as part of something that began at least as far back as the run up to Iraq. The MSM is now on the wrong side of secrecy.

          Aside from Assange's arrest, the collusion of PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa is at least as disturbing. Kind of like a mob of corporate bodies--governments, media outlets, and moneychangers--have decided to chase after one guy who challenged the hegemony.

        • I agree

          The involvement of interpol is highly irregular, the 'charges' aren't actually charges -- he's wanted for questioning -- and the nature of that questioning is highly dubious.

          I encourage people to google and read about the incident; I don't know about Swedish courts, but it's highly unlikely he'd be convicted of any of the charges inside the US. Indeed, it's highly unlikely charges would even be brought against him in the US, given the evidence and the odious nature of those who brought charges against him.  

    • I don't really understand this:

      Wikileaks is not all good and not all bad.

      Good or bad?  I'm not sure this binary is even applicable.  The organization receives information, vets it, and publishes it.  The New York Times received information from Daniel Ellsberg, vetted it, and published it.  Are you willing to apply the same sensibilities to the NYT as you are to WikiLeaks?  Publishing is publishing.  To the extent the NYT performs other ancillary publishing functions isn't relevant.  

      Given the media's unwillingness to seek out and report on disclosed documents, WikiLeaks' need to editorialize is understandable.  Assange is on record repeatedly expressing his frustration that when WikiLeaks first distributed  documents, no one bothered to do anything with them--hence the "wiki" of the name.  Even a brief summary wasn't adequte to pique the interest of the journalistic community.   Since 2006, WikiLeaks has released documents that have consistently exposed corruption and criminal culpability--is that, too, something we can qualify as good or bad?  

      The problem is not WikiLeaks; it's a bloated corporate media and press that can't summon the energy to do any real, investigative work.  Determining whether or not WikiLeaks is "good" or "bad" misses the larger point.  Seems to me the "good" or "bad" question is more appropriately directed to the people who leak documents to organizations like WikiLeaks, the New York Times, the Guardian, etc., and the lazy journalistic community that can't be bothered to actually investigate or report if it requires any effort.  

      • MSM

        If your point is that we should also criticize the NYT and others for failing to do really top-notch investigative journalism, then I'm with you. But I'm not sure what that has to do with my comment. Maybe if we substituted "responsible" and "irresponsible" for "good" and "bad" my point would be clearer.

        TedF

        • Strawman?

          I don't see anybody claiming that WikiLeaks is "all good" or "all bad". Feel free to substitute "responsible" if you like; nobody is making the claim. We aren't talking about "criticizing" WikiLeaks. Instead, we are objecting to the extraordinary handsprings that the US government is jumping in order to attack and prosecute them.

          I strongly suspect — nearly, but not quite, to the point of certainty — that the US government was behind the cyber attacks, the decisions by various providers to avoid doing business with WikiLeaks, the clearly spurious Swedish accusations, and all the rest.

          Yes, the MSM appears to be positively cowardly in all this. All the more reason to suspect pressure from high places. A government that attempted to pressure the Gray Lady of 1971 knew full well that those attempts themselves would be (and were) immediately published. Today's government is far better wired into the pressure-points of MSM decision making — the tragedy is that they seem to be getting away with it.

          America, who for generations was a world leader in promoting and protecting a vigorous and independent free press, has become the opposite. We see evidence of this in the coverage of America's military foibles of the past two decades ("embedded journalists"???? Yeah, right), in the way that political reporting has becoming press-release-printing, and in the MSM complicity in the right-wing lies of the past two years.

          In my view, the real issue here is not what happens to WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The real issue is the so-far secret efforts of the US government to interfere with internet access and electronic commerce of American citizens.

          It is not shocking to me that China takes such steps against Google. It is shocking to me that the US government appears to have done the same thing — and that American's don't seem to care.

          In the past five years, we've seen the American government ignore evidence that formal policies of abuse, kidnapping, and torture emanated from the Oval Office. We've seen the American government ignore evidence that the very mechanisms of the Department of Justice were subverted for purely political purposes by the sitting Attorney General. We now see evidence that the American government is actively working to harass foreign citizens, to attack the free exchange of information on the internet, and to block American citizens from conducting perfectly lawful commercial transactions from the privacy of their own homes.

          We are becoming the bad-guys, folks. What, if anything, are we going to do about it?

      • to be sure...

        Good or bad?  I'm not sure this binary is even applicable.  The organization receives information, vets it, and publishes it.  The New York Times received information from Daniel Ellsberg, vetted it, and published it.  Are you willing to apply the same sensibilities to the NYT as you are to WikiLeaks?  Publishing is publishing.  To the extent the NYT performs other ancillary publishing functions isn't relevant.  

        Well, I know from Daniel Ellsberg... but I don't (still) quite know from wikileaks.  That is to say, from the recent brouhaha, I remain quite uncertain what is/was leaked other than state department cables that, when squinted at in the right light, could be made to seem vaguely nefarious.  Ellsberg released details about specific crimes and clearly unconstitutional behavior by several presidents.  Wikileaks dumped stuff in the hopes, it appears, that others would do the work and find the crime. In short, if they did vet it, they did an awfully poor job of it...

        Wikileaks has published stuff that, in the past, reveal deliberate attempts to torture and other such crimes.  I'm on board with releasing that stuff.  But with this recent stuff... I'm not sure that wikileaks is doing themselves any favors.  

        I do think that 'information wants to be free'. I don't think that joe-random heap of facts is always 'information'.  I also think disinformation and misinformation, likewise, want to be free...

      • to be sure...

        Good or bad?  I'm not sure this binary is even applicable.  The organization receives information, vets it, and publishes it.  The New York Times received information from Daniel Ellsberg, vetted it, and published it.  Are you willing to apply the same sensibilities to the NYT as you are to WikiLeaks?  Publishing is publishing.  To the extent the NYT performs other ancillary publishing functions isn't relevant.  

        Well, I know from Daniel Ellsberg... but I don't (still) quite know from wikileaks.  That is to say, from the recent brouhaha, I remain quite uncertain what is/was leaked other than state department cables that, when squinted at in the right light, could be made to seem vaguely nefarious.  Ellsberg released details about specific crimes and clearly unconstitutional behavior by several presidents.  Wikileaks dumped stuff in the hopes, it appears, that others would do the work and find the crime. In short, if they did vet it, they did an awfully poor job of it...

        Wikileaks has published stuff that, in the past, reveal deliberate attempts to torture and other such crimes.  I'm on board with releasing that stuff.  But with this recent stuff... I'm not sure that wikileaks is doing themselves any favors.  

        I do think that 'information wants to be free'. I don't think that joe-random heap of facts is always 'information'.  I also think disinformation and misinformation, likewise, want to be free...

        • You seem to approve

          of the information Daniel Ellsberg  provided and see merit in that 30 years later.  Certainly people were not as charitable back then.  Indeed, he experienced the same sort of smears that Assange is experiencing regarding Ellsberg's mental health history.  We have the benefit of history to aid us if we must judge the messenger and not the message.  I'm not sure that says much.

           Wikileaks dumped stuff in the hopes, it appears, that others would do the work and find the crime. In short, if they did vet it, they did an awfully poor job of it...

          I don't even know what to say to this.  To "vet" a document is to verify its authenticity.  I don't know why you think they've done a poor job of that--what proof do you have that's the case?  I've not heard anyone claim the documents weren't authentic.

          As well,  WL is nothing but a repository, so I don't know, again, what laziness you can ascribe to that function.  They make  documents available after they have been vetted, redacted, and assessed in terms of their potential for good.    They whole point of WL was to merely make the documents available and have journalists mine the material, check the veracity, etc., much the way WikiPedia works.  To the extent that journalists are unwilling to do that has prompted the configuration of WL we have today.     They have not done a poor job of anything given their stated mission.  

          While you mention in passing that you think some of what they have done in the past is worthy of your support, it surprises me that you can judge any merit at all on a sampling of only 1344 of 251,287 documents as of today after less than a month.  Do you know something we don't?

          Time will tell.  WL doesn't care if the material ends up being useful or not particularly, they care that the information, to the extent that it is valuable, is made available to the public so that journalists can do their jobs and people can make informed decisions.  The public and history will ultimately decide the merits of the cables, not WL.  

          • your words...

            You seem to approve (6.00 / 1)

            'approve' is your word. Not mine.

            of the information Daniel Ellsberg  provided and see merit in that 30 years later.  Certainly people were not as charitable back then.  Indeed, he experienced the same sort of smears that Assange is experiencing regarding Ellsberg's mental health history.

            Wow. I totally didn't expect THAT from you...  Do I really have to explain that similar smears does not mean similar circumstances: both Jesus Christ and Charles Manson were accused of blasphemy...

             To "vet" a document is to verify its authenticity.

            "To vet" is to subject something to a rigorous and searching analysis to determine fitness for a particular purpose.  It is a term derived from the "sport of kings" and refers to the practice of bringing a veterinarian into determine the health and ability of particular horse for a particular race. Nobody wanted to know if the horse was an authentic horse (such attestation was left to the breeders...). They wanted to determine if the horse would contend in the race.

            I neither support nor oppose wikileaks.  I merely say that in this most recent action, as I stated before, they are doing themselves no favors.  And though I've been on board with (not, as you say, approved of) their release of torture memos in the past, this dump brings their batting average way down in my esteem.    I'm much less likely, should this leak turn out to be a whole ho full of hum, with a side of yawn, to take them seriously in the future.  I think leaks should be about, ya know, leaks.

             

            • We can disagree on the organic

              nature of words in specific contexts.  There is absolutely no question, whether one views the definition of vet as the distillation I offered or yours, which is slightly broader, that the documents are authentic, and thereby, by nature, useful and relevant for WL's stated purpose.

              You may view WL as doing "themselves" no favors, and certainly that's the case as their lives are in danger, but many of us actually do think they are providing a vital service necessary to ensure that the powerful be held accountable.  

              And as for you silly comparison of Jesus Christ and Charles Manson, I suspect you do realize that Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange have slightly more in common as the etiology of their respective smears than the two you offer.  

            • I count Shell actively placing staff in all corners of the Nigerian Gov't...

              ...and the US accepting forced labor in Uzbekistan in order to maintain supply chains for the continued war in Afghanistan as serious. I also count waging a secret war in Yemen and the Secretary of State violating international law by instructing diplomats to spy on diplomats as serious.  While the US press has maintained that there's nothing in these leaked cables but references to Quadafi's buxom nurse, it's clear that there's plenty of alarming details that rank far higher than ho-hum.

              It's up for debate, however, whether releasing both serious and less serious documents combats the culture of secrecy, or undermines Wikileaks' mission.  I tend to think it helps the cause of transparency.      

    • How do we get to decide what it can and can't release?

      Either they can release confidential documents, or they can't.

      And I'd argue that the recent cable 'leaked' that shows, for example, that US taxpayer dollars are going toward paying for the services of child sex slaves is in the public's best interest to know about. Don't you? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      There's no good way for Wikileaks to decide what to release and what not to release. They way they've done it is probably the best way I could think of: hand it off to the world's top newspapers.

      That means papers like the NTY and The Guardian are picking what to release and how to redact it, not Assange's group, and at the very least they have a record people can look at and have some sort of trust in. It also means that there's organizations with the resources to read and redact these documents, the size and scope of which is beyond WikiLeaks's capacity. They're more famous than they are large, but papers like the NYT, Der Speigel and Guardian are large enough to at least release these things over time in an appropriate manner.

      You're right that this isn't perfect, but I'd challenge you to come up with a better way if your criticism is going to be 'gee, I like some things that they're releasing, but not all of them.'  

  4. Bob,

    you raised what I see as the central point about the whole response, and did so succinctly, in a way that should be easy for anyone to understand. Kudos.  

  5. Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange: Michael Moore

    Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail. Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars. We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again. So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top.

    This statement is a portion of an e-mail sent out by Moore.  Here is the link from his website.

    Assange has been released on $320,000 bail with conditions but Swedish prosecutors may block his release.

  6. Best tweet of the day

    From Bruno Decock's profile:  

    Photo editor working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Setting up photo projects and photo editing for MSF publications.

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