Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

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Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:55 am UTC

I came across an article just now, as I was searching google for articles about Wikileaks and Assange. It is an analysis and explanation of an essay by Assange which talks about his motivations and the goal behind Wikileaks as well as the philosophy behind the mechanism with which one can effectively fight conspiracy. It talks about and analyses the nature of conspiracy, the mechanisms by which it works, and the responses towards such conspiracies.

I won't put any quotes here as reading quotes without reading the whole article itself would not really benefit any discourse in this thread.

The conclusion, however, is that the best method, and thus the goal behind wikileaks, by which to destroy conspiracy is to make information leakage an inherent part of the conspiratorial enviroments. While individual leaks themselves may not do much good or may even harm the cause of destroying the conspiracy, the net effect of creating an enviroment of leaks both removes the conspiratorial advantage and dissolves the links which allow information transfer within the conspiracy thus dissolving the conspiracy entirely.

I personally agree with the article, on everything. Which is why I've created this thread looking for inputs, analysis, and opinion from other point of views as I certainly do not expect I've thought of everything.

The main question I pose in this thread is;
  • Do you agree with the article and Assange's analysis of conspiracy theories and anti-conspiracy methodology?

However simply agreeing or disagring isn't a productive discussion, so... leading on from the main question (which is why it's the main question) are the important discussion questions;
  • If you agree, can you provide any further analysis that supports these arguments? Additionally do you believe Wikileaks has or can make any progress towards what the article describes?
  • If you disagree, can you explain your opinions/analysis on these matters? Do you think Wikileaks has or can make any progress towards what you describe as the way to fight against conspiracy?
Additionally if you just have any questions regarding the article, essay, or analysis this thread should be the place to ask them.

What this thread is absolutely not for;
  • Moral or ethical discussions about Assange, Wikileaks, leaking in general, and governments. Please leave your love or hate outside the thread.

Of course these aren't rules or anything and I certainly have no ability to enforce anything in this thread, but as far as goals go those are it.

Finally, you can find the original essay(s) by Assange here (just scroll down, don't bother with the links up top).
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:25 pm UTC

So let me get this right. Eliminating conspiracies by making information impossible to contain is the goal? Complete transparency. However Wikileaks itself is a conspiracy. Neither transparent nor open. Waaaaaaaaaah The thing is this. While I like openness and transparency, I recognize that complete transparency in itself is an illusion. You would not accept it for yourself, unless I am mistaken. Have you told no lies, ever? Do you operate in the open, completely? I don't. I guard information about myself closely. From SS number, to credit card numbers to details of my personal life that might give advantage to someone who might choose to try and harm myself or my family. And have taught my family the same. Governments are no different to any great degree. This is the way of it. If you would demand transparency then you should be prepared to offer it. The interesting thing here is that when the issue has risen in the past, at least in the US, it has driven law to look at the behavior of Government and to restrict it. The New York Times was permitted to publish the Pentagon Papers. But the process was driven by Law.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:26 pm UTC

I don't think that is the point. The point is not to make information impossible to contain, but just to make it suffuciently difficult to contain that the conspiracy ruins itself in paranoia. When leaks happen the conspiracy ties a tourniquet around its own limb to stop the bleeding and it loses that limb in the process. One expects there to be a critical point where paranoia and preventative measures against the leak inherent enviroment stifle the conspiracy in it's entirety.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Yakk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

My government exists to serve me. I do not exist to serve my government.

As such, the government being transparent to me is important in evaluating if the government is doing its job or not.

This may be limited by various practicalities. More likely, it is limited by government not being interested in serving the people (as most governments in history have been about serving elites rather than the people as a whole).
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Роберт » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:34 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Complete transparency.

I don't think you need complete transparency. There need to be enough partially transparent windows to make the conspirators paranoid enough that the conspiracy loses power.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:40 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I don't think that is the point. The point is not to make information impossible to contain, but just to make it suffuciently difficult to contain that the conspiracy ruins itself in paranoia. When leaks happen the conspiracy ties a tourniquet around its own limb to stop the bleeding and it loses that limb in the process. One expects there to be a critical point where paranoia and preventative measures against the leak inherent enviroment stifle the conspiracy in it's entirety.


Ok, I read it again an it is no clearer than it was the first time. However I'll try again. The way he speaks about conspiracy implies that all Governments are composed of them. The definition depends on whether the policies are evil or designed to do harm. Define evil to me. That's an Eye Of The Beholder problem.

To put it in a more personal way. You operate a business. Your goal is to be more successful than me. However the market is limited, there are only so many customers. To get customers for yourself you must take them from me. Your business plan is a conspiracy against me. From my perspective.

This model is not something new. Insurgencies have been using a variation on it for years. Make it impossible for someone to govern. There tactics have been more bloody than Assange's, they like assassination and murder, but the goal is the same. Reduce the ability to govern.
Assange

Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.


Note the way he redefines conspiracy. Interesting, is it not. Any government he considers authoritarian is also conspiratorial. Who makes that call?

Assange

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption. Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.


And this perhaps is the most interesting. Let us look at the US. The documents in question are being printed in major newspapers across the country. Leaking for any number of purposes is a National Pastime here. There is and there has been data all along. Even the contents of the cables have been known at least generally. So what country does he define as a just system? Where can I go that he would be happier with? Or do I just have to depend on his judgment and hope he doesn't have an agenda of his own?

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby ++$_ » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:35 pm UTC

morriswalters, I think you're misreading the article badly.

A conspiracy, according to Assange, is a set of actions concealed by a government or other organization because they know that they would lose the support of their constituency if it were common knowledge (i.e. once discovered, they "induce resistance"). Nothing to do with "evil."

If it's out in the open, it's not a conspiracy. If your business is trying to build a customer base, I and my business know that you're trying to do that. It's all out in the open. It's therefore not a conspiracy.

This model is not something new. Insurgencies have been using a variation on it for years. Make it impossible for someone to govern. There tactics have been more bloody than Assange's, they like assassination and murder, but the goal is the same. Reduce the ability to govern.
Association fallacy.
Note the way he redefines conspiracy. Interesting, is it not. Any government he considers authoritarian is also conspiratorial. Who makes that call?
You're misreading it again. He's saying that when authoritarian governments conceal information to reduce resistance, they are being conspiratorial, and he's also noting that most authoritarian governments do that. He's not making a redefinition; he's making an observation.
And this perhaps is the most interesting. Let us look at the US. The documents in question are being printed in major newspapers across the country. Leaking for any number of purposes is a National Pastime here. There is and there has been data all along. Even the contents of the cables have been known at least generally.
There's a difference between Wild Mass Guessing where some people happen to be right, and having evidence that makes it common knowledge who is right.
So what country does he define as a just system? Where can I go that he would be happier with? Or do I just have to depend on his judgment and hope he doesn't have an agenda of his own?
He defines an unjust system as one where the people disagree with what the government is doing. If you want to live in an authoritarian nation with an unpopular government that rules through secrecy and fear, then you should probably oppose Assange's actions. Otherwise, I don't see why his judgment matters. He's suggesting that when people oppose their government's conspiratorial behavior, then they should leak things. He is one of the people who is doing this, but not the only one. It's not about him in particular; he's talking in general about the purpose of leaks and how they help to destroy conspiracies.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:12 am UTC

++$_ wrote:There's a difference between Wild Mass Guessing where some people happen to be right, and having evidence that makes it common knowledge who is right.


To take this further: There is a difference between the conspiracy realising that the people know that there is a conspiracy going on (ie "Everyone knows that the government keeps secrets and does shady stuff, and the government knows that we know") and the conspiracy realising that people with access to the conspiracy information network are working to induce resistance towards the conspiracy. The former conspiracy doesn't give a shit about. The latter forces the conspiracy to wound itself in order to cut out the necrotic flesh that is leaking toxins into the bodily enviroment.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby HungryHobo » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:08 pm UTC

So let me get this right. Eliminating conspiracies by making information impossible to contain is the goal? Complete transparency. However Wikileaks itself is a conspiracy. Neither transparent nor open. Waaaaaaaaaah


I feel I should point out that wikileaks is actually consistent on this point, wikileaks is willing to and has in the past released leaks about the conspiracy that is wikileaks.

An email was sent to a number of wikileaks donors but was CCed instead of BCCed.
One of those donors then sumbitted the list of donor contacts to wikileaks who published it.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby MEGAMANTROTSKY » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:10 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:So let me get this right. Eliminating conspiracies by making information impossible to contain is the goal? Complete transparency. However Wikileaks itself is a conspiracy. Neither transparent nor open. Waaaaaaaaaah The thing is this. While I like openness and transparency, I recognize that complete transparency in itself is an illusion. You would not accept it for yourself, unless I am mistaken. Have you told no lies, ever? Do you operate in the open, completely? I don't. I guard information about myself closely. From SS number, to credit card numbers to details of my personal life that might give advantage to someone who might choose to try and harm myself or my family. And have taught my family the same. Governments are no different to any great degree. This is the way of it. If you would demand transparency then you should be prepared to offer it. The interesting thing here is that when the issue has risen in the past, at least in the US, it has driven law to look at the behavior of Government and to restrict it. The New York Times was permitted to publish the Pentagon Papers. But the process was driven by Law.


I don't understand what you're driving at. Is it not illogical to equate the secrecy of the individual with the secrecy of a governing body? And even if it could be, why must jurisprudence govern the morality of dissemination?

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:41 pm UTC

It's hard to answer your question, but I'll try. A government in it's best and worse sense is like a man. And no two men with competing goals and ambitions ever are completely transparent with each other. At least part of this is related to hiding weakness and inflating strength. Governments are no different. Information is used to manipulate, and manipulation requires me to have more information than you and that implies secrets. Assange states this, more or less, in his treatise about conspiracies. In a perfect world this would not be required, but the world is not perfect. For instance the US is out to protect the interests of the US, not Europe or China, or anyone else. And nothing will change that.

The thing about Wikileaks per se is that you have no way of knowing if the data you get from them is good. I'm not saying that they are lying, adding or subtracting. But if they were would you know? Leaks in the United States happen all the time, both classified and unclassified. All are agenda driven. I see Wikileaks as no different. The only thing is because of the way they operate I find it hard to identify the agenda of the principles. In addition leaks of large volumes of data which has no revelations simply numbs people. It also hardens the opinions of those who do care, both pro and con. To what point? Law provides a shield. The Espionage Act in the US apparently makes it a crime to publish the data. However the press has never has never been pursued. When the courts have spoken in most cases they have favored openness. That balance of Law and Free Press has brought down Governments and Politicians in the US. For Wikileaks there is no such balance. They are the arbiters, good or bad, of what they publish. Governments are left with no recourse. Closed societies will not be affected in any great way, only open ones.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:22 pm UTC

which would be an argument if wikileaks were an american organisation run by americans.

The other 95% of the human race counts too.
If america has been screwing us over in negotiation or putting pressure on our governments do we have no right to know?

If a government is like a man then he doesn't always get to keep his secret secret.
sometimes it comes out who's wife he's been sleeping with and who he's been talking shit about behind their back.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby ++$_ » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The thing about Wikileaks per se is that you have no way of knowing if the data you get from them is good. I'm not saying that they are lying, adding or subtracting. But if they were would you know? Leaks in the United States happen all the time, both classified and unclassified. All are agenda driven. I see Wikileaks as no different. The only thing is because of the way they operate I find it hard to identify the agenda of the principles.
First, you never know whether any data you get is good. It doesn't matter whether it's the census data published by the government, the Pentagon Papers published by a reputable newspaper, or the diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. Any of them could be lying, adding, or subtracting. So what is the difference between Wikileaks (whose leaks you oppose) and the Pentagon Papers (whose leaking you support)?

Second, Wikileaks has actually told you what their agenda is. You'll find it in the article linked at the top of the thread. And they could, of course, be lying, but so could the New York Times. Again, why is this different?
That balance of Law and Free Press has brought down Governments and Politicians in the US. For Wikileaks there is no such balance. They are the arbiters, good or bad, of what they publish. Governments are left with no recourse. Closed societies will not be affected in any great way, only open ones.
In what way is there a difference between Wikileaks and the New York Times? The New York Times is the arbiter of what they publish. As you point out, the government cannot do anything about them because of the 1st Amendment. This is exactly the same situation as Wikileaks. Your argument, if sound, has just as much force against freedom of the press in general as it does against Wikileaks.

EDIT: Also, a government is not at all like a "man". A government is a group of people. That is what it is like -- a big group of people, not one person.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:12 am UTC

I'm speaking as a US citizen. Your mileage may vary. If your country of residence chooses to shelter Wikileaks, then more power to them. It's a matter of interest. The difference between the New York Times and Wikileaks in the US is a matter of law and trust. For major US news organizations I know their visible agenda and their publishing history. The law has provided safe harbor to them and in return they have agreed to the arbitration of the courts. The system is neither foolproof or perfect, but it works. But I can't speak as an Englishman, or a German, or anyone else, I am who I am.

In terms of information, deciding the worth of information is noting new. It is a dilemma faced by anyone who needs or uses information. Again for sources inside the US I can evaluate by their previous activity. And I don't claim this is the only way but it is the only way for me. I balance the competing sources and filter. Wikileaks is problematic in this way. They have no history for me to evaluate and except no check on their activities.

Let us look at the data they have released and are about to release. Afghan war documents, US diplomatic cables, and the upcoming major bank data. The video is probably the most important thing released up to this point. The diplomatic cables have have been mostly embarrassing. And almost anybody in the US who cares probably knew the data in broad form before the release. The bank data may be interesting, we'll see. But I have to tell you if there are no smoking guns to come I'm not sure of the point.

++$_ wrote:In what way is there a difference between Wikileaks and the New York Times? The New York Times is the arbiter of what they publish. As you point out, the government cannot do anything about them because of the 1st Amendment. This is exactly the same situation as Wikileaks. Your argument, if sound, has just as much force against freedom of the press in general as it does against Wikileaks.


That turn's out not to be the truth. The New York Times or any other outlet is technically violating the Espionage Act. What happens is a very delicate balancing act. The government chooses not to punish the Times or any other outlet because of the reaction that they would face from the public. In return for that the media accepts the rule of law and accepts that it will have to defend it's position in court. Britain uses this. Follow the link on D Notices. I would expect that almost any government has something similar.

Governments are like men because they are run by men. The share the traits of the men who guide them. And for clarification it's not the leaks that I dislike it's the manner in which they have been done.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:32 am UTC

I would just like to mention that wikileaks has actually released a whole lot more than what you listed and actually does have quite a history.

From wikipedia:
Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.[8]

[...]

WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award.[10] In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International's UK Media Award (in the category "New Media") for the 2008 publication of "Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances",[11] a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya

Here are some of the leaks Wikipedia has done, there are thousands upon thousands more leaks than are listed here though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informatio ... _WikiLeaks

In fact, I just found that the a mirror of the wiki itself is up right now: http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ You can see "Latest Leaks" for a list of the most recent ones. The mirror does not seem complete though, as I cannot access the countries page, however there are many many leaks from many many countries all throughout their databases.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby MEGAMANTROTSKY » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:50 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Governments are like men because they are run by men. The share the traits of the men who guide them. And for clarification it's not the leaks that I dislike it's the manner in which they have been done.


I can't help but disagree with this. The social position of these men in government must also be taken into account along with the interests that they choose to serve. Depending on the circumstances, they may turn out to be far removed from the stance of their citizens. In other words: I don't think it follows that corrupt men in government reflects the general state of man.

A further question: if you disagree with the manner in which Wikileaks has released information, can you say how you would have preferred it? I don't see any reason why the leaks have to follow state-enacted jurisprudence {or the letter of the law].

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby ++$_ » Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:08 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:That turn's out not to be the truth. The New York Times or any other outlet is technically violating the Espionage Act.
You are right that the New York Times is capable of violating the Espionage Act by publishing documents. However, the Supreme Court found in New York Times Co. v. United States that the government cannot impose a prior restraint on the publication of the documents. In other words, they can't stop the documents from being published. All they can do is punish people afterwards, if they want to. And that would be difficult, because they would have to prove to a jury that the publishers intended to interfere with the United States armed forces or to promote the success of its enemies, which is a pretty tough standard.
morriswalters wrote:The difference between the New York Times and Wikileaks in the US is a matter of law and trust. For major US news organizations I know their visible agenda and their publishing history. The law has provided safe harbor to them and in return they have agreed to the arbitration of the courts.
As I pointed out above, the founder of Wikileaks has actually gone to the trouble to tell you his "visible agenda." Wikileaks also has a significant publishing history (c.f. Gelsamel above), and you shouldn't blame them if you aren't aware of it.

I don't understand why the law has anything to do with whether Wikileaks is right or wrong to publish their information, nor why it has anything to do with its trustworthiness.
morriswalters wrote:Let us look at the data they have released and are about to release. Afghan war documents, US diplomatic cables, and the upcoming major bank data. The video is probably the most important thing released up to this point. The diplomatic cables have have been mostly embarrassing. And almost anybody in the US who cares probably knew the data in broad form before the release. The bank data may be interesting, we'll see. But I have to tell you if there are no smoking guns to come I'm not sure of the point.
Above, you were complaining that you can't trust Wikileaks not to censor the information. But now you are complaining because they aren't censoring their leaks; rather, they are releasing everything. If they had decided that they didn't need to release certain cables because the information in them wasn't (in their opinion) important, then you'd be complaining about that too. So what does Wikileaks have to do in order to get it right?

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:25 am UTC

MEGAMANTROTSKY wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Governments are like men because they are run by men. The share the traits of the men who guide them. And for clarification it's not the leaks that I dislike it's the manner in which they have been done.


I can't help but disagree with this. The social position of these men in government must also be taken into account along with the interests that they choose to serve. Depending on the circumstances, they may turn out to be far removed from the stance of their citizens. In other words: I don't think it follows that corrupt men in government reflects the general state of man.

A further question: if you disagree with the manner in which Wikileaks has released information, can you say how you would have preferred it? I don't see any reason why the leaks have to follow state-enacted jurisprudence {or the letter of the law].


What I said was that they act as any man would, of any class. Vain, paranoid, brilliant, pick you adjective. And any man in their position will, in the long term, end up corrupted. I have a much lower opinion of men then you do. I also believe that individuals can rise above that, but they are rare.

I have no idea of how to work it, but if you institutionalize it then the people running it will end up no better then the people they expose. That's the nature of power. Wikileaks is already self censoring. The encrypted file that they believe is so powerful, is an example of this. They have made decisions not to post some things to protect themselves.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby janusx » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:58 am UTC

Not all information belongs in the public domain. This is coming from a bigger libertarian/anarchist than nearly everyone on this planet.

The whole Assuage fanboyism makes my skin cringe and while I realize this thread has managed to mostly side step that so far, the deafening cheers of the internet will cause my post to be brief.

The government should have classified documents. There are many cases where such documents are classified for a reason and not just a part of authoritarian conspiracies. For example a number of months back one of the leaks by wikileaks included a classified document with the names of hundreds of Afghanis informants were working undercover with the US military. These people and their families were put in horrible peril.

Additionally while I can agree that the contents of some (maybe even many) of the documents reveal information that should not have been kept from the tax payers; many of the conflicts and situations that arise are far more complex than the media, Assuage, or anyone without full knowledge and study of the situations could understand. So the leaks exposes both issues that people should be upset about and those which they will be upset about but which have sound underlying reasoning that would be too complex to track down and report.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:56 am UTC

janusx wrote:one of the leaks by wikileaks included a classified document with the names of hundreds of Afghanis informants were working undercover with the US military

One document with hundreds of names?
link please.

There were lots of sensationalist claims in the right wing media after the leak but the governments own report found that nobody had actually been killed ,nobody had needed to be relocated and no sensitive intelligence sources were actually compromised.

morriswalters wrote:That turn's out not to be the truth. The New York Times or any other outlet is technically violating the Espionage Act. What happens is a very delicate balancing act.


you mean the balancing act where the government tries to avoid taking newspapers to court with the Espionage Act because they know damn well that it has only a snowballs chance in hell of not being struck down as unconstitutional?

morriswalters wrote: In return for that the media accepts the rule of law and accepts that it will have to defend it's position in court.


and the problem is that many organisations game the system.
Both reports about what the general had for lunch and reports about genocide can be marked with the same classified stamp and newspapers threatened with the same laws for publishing them no matter how worthy of publication.

you don't seem to have bothered to actually look at any of the other leaks but for a nice example of why we need wikileaks:

someone gaming the legal system:
http://mirror.wikileaks.info/wiki/Guard ... waste_gag/

Although the Minton report is a merely a short engineering and legal assessment of the Ivory Coast disaster, no-doubt one among many, instead of commissioning it directly, the company "laundered" the report through its lawyers, Waterson & Hicks. This permitted Trafigura to claim legal privilege on the document should it leak; which is precisely what the company did, when it did.

An undisclosed UK High Court judge, who we can reveal to be Justice Maddison, accepted this parlour trick, and on September 11, issued a broad gag order with secrecy provisions that prevented even the existence of the gag order from being reported.


basically the press got hold of a report about the company dumping toxic waste off the coast of third world countries but the company had made sure to launder everything through their lawyers so that it was protected should it leak.
it's a scam/hack but it works.
thus the press couldn't talk about it, or even talk about the fact that they couldn't talk about it.

if wikileaks had to accept the rule of law, particularly in this case UK law, and defend it's position in court then simply put they couldn't report on this at all.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:13 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:you mean the balancing act where the government tries to avoid taking newspapers to court with the Espionage Act because they know damn well that it has only a snowballs chance in hell of not being struck down as unconstitutional?


The current court may not be so ready to give the Espionage Act the old heave ho.
HungryHobo wrote:and the problem is that many organisations game the system.
Both reports about what the general had for lunch and reports about genocide can be marked with the same classified stamp and newspapers threatened with the same laws for publishing them no matter how worthy of publication.

you don't seem to have bothered to actually look at any of the other leaks but for a nice example of why we need wikileaks:


A British problem. Look up the concept of prior restraint in the US. The publication of the Pentagon papers revolved around the concept. Would you care to look at the number of documents leaked to the papers and printed in the US. Wikileaks themselves used the self same publishers that your ragging on to publish the documents. They had them before anyone else. Openleaks proposes to do exactly that rather then release the documents directly(if I understand that correctly).

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Rainsborough » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:44 pm UTC

I know this is rather turning into a dogpile on morriswalters but if I may weigh in.

morriswalters wrote:That turn's out not to be the truth. The New York Times or any other outlet is technically violating the Espionage Act. What happens is a very delicate balancing act. The government chooses not to punish the Times or any other outlet because of the reaction that they would face from the public. In return for that the media accepts the rule of law and accepts that it will have to defend it's position in court. Britain uses this. Follow the link on D Notices. I would expect that almost any government has something similar.


In regard to this point: Irrelevant conclusion. argumentum ad populum and also I think argumentum ad verecundiam. Just because everyone does it, or because all governments do it, does not mean it is right, moral or justified.

If I might examine the legal points you make as regards to D notices and also those you made in regards to the Trafigura case. I know a little bit about the English Legal System, and I would first contend that it is not
A British problem
almost every jurisdiction on Earth hands down injunction in a variety of circumstances, the United States included.

Secondly, while the United Kingdom has no written constitution (unlike the US), this does not mean that the UK does not have a constitution. It most certainly does, and one that has been formed over almost 1000 years of legal history. I could, if you wish, point out the dozens of cases where laws enacted by government have been deemed unconstitutional and hence illegal.

You may ask what my point is. My point is, that the law more often than not exists not to constrain individuals from harming Governments but to prevent Governments from harming individuals. There is a very fine book by the recently retired Law Lord Tom Bingham on the subject.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:15 pm UTC

Governments do what Governments do. We can't get rid of them, therefore we participate and do what we can. As a practical matter I'm all for a better world, as soon as you give me a definition that I can agree with. Just so that you understand, when I say this is a British problem, I mean it's a problem for British citizens, one that I cannot participate in. At least in no meaningful way.

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby HungryHobo » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

if you live in a country with less restrictive laws on what can be published you can simply publish the material yourself.
Which is what wikileaks did.
They participated in a meaningful way by allowing citizens of the UK to access the information and more importantly allowed them to learn that such secret gag orders exist.

Everyone knows papers can have injunctions put on them.
many people I've talked to were surprised about the existence of these secret gag orders though where they can't even talk about being unable to talk which is damned creepy and more than a little 1984
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Rainsborough » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

I'd say that at their very best Governments are a necessary evil. But even that is not certain cause we've never really tried living without them. As HungryHobo points out it is really the responsibility of all people to attempt to advance the causes of liberty, freedom and justice throughout the world, one can't just rely on the tribalism of past centuries when we today live in a global world.

In regards to Wikileaks, I don't see how it can possibly be wrong for a people to know what their government is doing. "Of the people, for the people, by the people" remember.

Oh and as for the injunctions, the reason the Trafigura thing blew up was that a second injunction granted by the Judge prevented the Guardian from reporting a question in Parliament. This was in direct breach of the Bill of Rights 1689. So that all rather resolved itself.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:07 am UTC

But even that is not certain cause we've never really tried living without them.


Your forgetting that vast time period before civilizations became large cities.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Rainsborough » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:54 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Your forgetting that vast time period before civilizations became large cities.


No, I'm not. Both Archaeological and Anthropological evidence shows almost as far back as the fossil record goes, that humanity, and our close ancestors had tribal power structures that could, at a push, be analogised to Governments.

However even if you disagree on the substantive point, I don't accept that prehistory is strictly relevant, as it is by definition very hard to understand or quantify. The general lack of data makes conclusion as to whether they had government, wanted it, liked it or needed it.

Even if we ignore all this, I'd argue that humanity is in a fundamentally different place. I wonder whether you are making a distinction between Government and society in your head. One does not neccesitate the other.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Sharlos » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:17 pm UTC

Rainsborough wrote: I wonder whether you are making a distinction between Government and society in your head. One does not neccesitate the other.


I don't see how, humans require a set of rules and dispute resolution in order to be able to live together in large numbers. What else do you think a government is?

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:34 pm UTC

What else do you think a government is?

the government isn't the laws.
You can have an autocratic government with no laws where an individual simply decides everything based on their own opinion or you have have an effectively governmentless systems where the laws have been decided upon long ago and the majority simply enforce the traditions/laws without any specific group being in charge.
The latter is of course extremely unstable.

as for the topic:

there was a wonderful analogy posted on slashdot I feel deserves to be quoted here.

Slashdot: IgnoramusMaximus (692000) writes: wrote:Governments are like nuclear power. If left unchecked they will kill a lot of people, screw up the neighborhood for generations and cause loss of standard of living for a lot other people. In the extreme, they can be used as a weapon and cause far more damage yet.

On the other hand, given enough containment and backup control systems, they can be the most powerful source of help in everyday life to a lot of people.

So where the challenge truly lies is in engineering such containment and control (see for example: the US Constitution) and then maintaining it. But when citizens willing to fight for their rights to the death are replaced with the likes of lardy American Idol fans, there is simply no one left to look after rusty, sieve-like containment vessels.

And so, unfortunately, most governments on the planet today are in various stages of performing their Chernobyl thing.


I think this story and it's account of how the government abuses the classified stamp is a perfect example of why wikileaks and organizations like it are required.
The secrecy has just gotten too bad.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/featu ... in_lawsuit

And that's not even the worst case, there's some mind boggling stuff been going on.
People being tried in court with evidence neither they nor their defense are allowed see.
People being unable to speak about material in court to defend themselves because it's been classified.
etc
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Rainsborough » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:30 pm UTC

I agree with HungryHobo as far as he goes. Government is not the law and Government is not society. And I also agree with the quotation. It's a prescient analogy, but there is no reason that the world cannot live without nuclear power.

As regards to your point Sharbos: I see no reason that people cannot be trusted to live their own lives in their own communities. Etc.

If you have more specific queries, please. Don't hesitate to ask.
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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby musicalChairs » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:35 am UTC

I see no reason that people cannot be trusted to live their own lives in their own communities. Etc.


There would likely be lots of problems arising when the communities try to interact and barely anyone in this day and age lives solely in their "own community."

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Re: Assange, Wikileaks, and the Philsophy of Anti-Conspiracy

Postby Rainsborough » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:03 pm UTC

musicalChairs wrote:[...]barely anyone in this day and age lives solely in their "own community."


Communities are defined by relationships between people not simply geographic location.

We've got a bit off topic generally and I feel like I should apologise to Gelshamel for turning a rather tired debate on anarchist theory. I believe that governments (and prescriptive power structures and hierarchies of which governments are an example) generally speaking are harmful to liberty, freedom and "the good". This opinion has been formed based both on personal experience and philosophical and theoretical musings and readings. I don't claim to have all the answers, and there are many philosophers, theorists and writers out there who express my opinions more succinctly and eloquently than I can. It is of course anyone's prerogative to disagree with my views, but they are not ill-considered, ill-informed or foolish.

If anyone wants to have a debate on Anarchism vs Statism I am more than happy to.
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