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Wikileaks and the Diplomatic Cables of Doom


Cap'n Refsmmat
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The Congressional Research Service on the legality of publishing classified information:

 

https://www.eff.org/...aks-law-and-you

 

(PDF available at link)

 

Thus, although unlawful acquisition of information might be subject to criminal prosecution with few First Amendment implications, the publication of that information remains protected. Whether the publication of national security information can be punished likely turns on the value of the information to the public weighed against the likelihood of identifiable harm to the national security, arguably a more difficult case for prosecutors to make.

 

It's an interesting read if you're interested in law, and it's not as certain as the quote makes it out to be -- essentially, this kind of prosecution has never been tried before, and it's unclear if it'd work, though it'd undoubtedly be difficult.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if the EFF springs to Wikileaks' aid if the government tries to prosecute it.

 

(Ironically, Wikileaks leaked several thousand CRS reports in early 2009)

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http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/pro-wikileaks-vigilantes-down-visa-com/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Index+3+%28Top+Stories+2%29%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

 

 

 

Apparently there is now anon support/hacking retaliation for wikileaks. So this just went from wikileaks being illegal but more like a nuisance fly, to something very freaking illegal that could affect billions.

 

This quite obviously shows the lack of infrastructure and security on the web. sure anyone can connect to it, but there needs to be some better controls and infrastructure within the Internets Architecture. Also it shows a need for a government agency to do some net patrolling/policing. sure you will still have hackers, but just like society and the physical world we live in, without police you have anarchy. i see the same should be applied to the incorporeal internet.

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As pointed out in my above post, it's hard to establish that Wikileaks is actually illegal.

 

What kind of agency would patrol the Internet when it is global, mostly corporate-owned, and exceedingly decentralized? Take the example of China: despite complete central control over Internet service providers, it is still possible to evade the Great Firewall and smuggle information in and out. And China can't get the cooperation of other governments in stamping out illegal content.

 

Attempting to censor the Internet is just giving a bunch of highly motivated nerds a new challenge. It cannot work without substantially restructuring the entire Internet.

 

See, for example:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freenet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_%28anonymity_network%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I2P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_(protocol)

 

Censorship-resistant encryption is easy:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueCrypt

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True, you will have such issues to contend with, but imo policing the internet does not mean enforcing censorship, but rather enforcing a set of agreed upon common rules that help to nourish and grow the internet into something. kinda like you have laws and regulations that help small businesses establish themselves.

 

I can see how a sort of internet police could help the internet thrive as a community by enforcing agreed upon regulations. If you want the regulations to change, couldn't you just have the community agree upon a change, just like regular government. So far the internet has survived/evolved as an anarchic community based system. where one person has complete authority over his/her own content, and can do damn near whatever to anyone's content. But as you see here, due to the communal nature of humans, the internet also evolved to be a communal system. Therefore you are going to eventually need a police of sorts to stop such cybercrime, just like you have police to stop physical crime.

 

I see no real difference between the internet, and the physical world. Both are operating in nearly the same way, both follow the same set of parameters that force it to evolve along a specific path. So both should be policed in a similar manner.

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Yes. And forcing rules on the Internet is issuing a challenge to nerds to find ways around those rules.

 

The Internet is already policed by various parts of the FBI and local police agencies, but it is exceedingly difficult to track down someone who does not want to be tracked down. Systems like Tor make it nearly impossible to pin a crime on a single perpetrator, since there is no way to track a connection down to its source.

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Yes. And forcing rules on the Internet is issuing a challenge to nerds to find ways around those rules.

 

The Internet is already policed by various parts of the FBI and local police agencies, but it is exceedingly difficult to track down someone who does not want to be tracked down. Systems like Tor make it nearly impossible to pin a crime on a single perpetrator, since there is no way to track a connection down to its source.

 

 

Don't we have the same sort of "challenge" posted now in the physical world? You have people doing illegal things, they have their anonymity chains. Lets look at illegal drug trafficking, they have similar anonymity chains, they have their business authentication programs, they have everything that a hacker has. its one and the same.

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Don't we have the same sort of "challenge" posted now in the physical world? You have people doing illegal things, they have their anonymity chains. Lets look at illegal drug trafficking, they have similar anonymity chains, they have their business authentication programs, they have everything that a hacker has. its one and the same.

 

No, it isn't. Anonymity chains in the real world can be broken by convincing the individuals to fess up, and through surveillance. Electronic chains are cryptographically guaranteed to remain anonymous, and each operator in the chain cannot tell who the user is or where they're going. Freenet is similar.

 

Essentially, instead of relying on fellow crooks to keep you safe, you rely on very difficult mathematics. You cannot bribe mathematics.

 

Check this out too:

 

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/28/brazil_banker_crypto_lock_out/

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This quite obviously shows the lack of infrastructure and security on the web. sure anyone can connect to it, but there needs to be some better controls and infrastructure within the Internets Architecture. Also it shows a need for a government agency to do some net patrolling/policing. sure you will still have hackers, but just like society and the physical world we live in, without police you have anarchy. i see the same should be applied to the incorporeal internet.

 

No, see, the current issue is a demonstration of why the government shouldn't be trusted with censorship, because this is the kind of thing they will try to censor so that we can't judge them properly.

 

I'd prefer an anarchy: i'd sooner TRUST everyone in general not to shaft me too much, than TRUST a government that won't even allow me enough information to make an informed decision about their trustworthiness.

 

Electronic chains are cryptographically guaranteed to remain anonymous, and each operator in the chain cannot tell who the user is or where they're going.

 

You know that Tor is known to be insecure, and Freenet is suspected to be insecure as-currently-is? (iirc, Freenet's model is believed to be secure, but it isn't fully implimented yet).

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You know that Tor is known to be insecure, and Freenet is suspected to be insecure as-currently-is? (iirc, Freenet's model is believed to be secure, but it isn't fully implimented yet).

Tor has some specific attacks against it, yes, but not necessarily anonymity-busting ones. You can sniff traffic coming out of an exit node, but that won't give you the identity of the user, just whatever sites they're visiting. You can do various sniffing attacks on the rest of the network and narrow down the possibilities, but AFAIK there's no way to listen and break the anonymity totally. As for Freenet, careful use of darknets can mitigate the problem, I think. I don't know much about I2P.

 

My point is that the nature of the Internet makes it very difficult to police. You can only catch people using Tor if you're watching at exactly the right time -- if you begin investigating after the fact, you won't be able to mount the surveillance required to narrow down the users. Systems like BitTorrent make it very difficult to stop the distribution of files once it has started: you can try to shut down the central server, but once a few people have the file, they can share it with everyone else. The widespread availability of high-grade encryption makes it easy to hide secrets from the government.

 

Your only option would be to completely remake the Internet with security and identity features built-in.

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AFAIK there's no way to listen and break the anonymity totally.

 

IIRC:

 

1/ end-to-end correlation, even of part of the network, can confirm that you're using tor to access site X, but only if site X is monitorable; due to UK's logging laws, i think this can be done after-the-fact from the logs

 

2/ interrupt a website, and see who's connection to Tor suddenly gets interupted (requires you can arbitrarily affect the site's bandwidth)

 

3/ fingerprint: the connection to a site will first download the HTML, then make some more requests for the images; the size and number of these requests form a 'fingerprint' for a site, even tho the data's encrypted. (site can be set up to avoid this?)

 

IANAH, but as i understand it these three break tor pretty easily; note that setting up your own, e.g., wikileaks mirror/hidden service would satisfy all 3 conditions, and allow you to identify some of the people who're accessing wikileaks. Fine them or something, and you've got some 'censorship by fear' going on...

 

As for Freenet, careful use of darknets can mitigate the problem, I think

 

I think that's the case...

 

not disagreeing with you tho: for all the above, i had a good read of teh gub'ments sekritz over HTML/web and am currently d/l'ing the archive via torrent, and have yet to be arrested or disconnected.

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IIRC:

 

1/ end-to-end correlation, even of part of the network, can confirm that you're using tor to access site X, but only if site X is monitorable; due to UK's logging laws, i think this can be done after-the-fact from the logs

 

2/ interrupt a website, and see who's connection to Tor suddenly gets interupted (requires you can arbitrarily affect the site's bandwidth)

 

3/ fingerprint: the connection to a site will first download the HTML, then make some more requests for the images; the size and number of these requests form a 'fingerprint' for a site, even tho the data's encrypted. (site can be set up to avoid this?)

 

IANAH, but as i understand it these three break tor pretty easily; note that setting up your own, e.g., wikileaks mirror/hidden service would satisfy all 3 conditions, and allow you to identify some of the people who're accessing wikileaks. Fine them or something, and you've got some 'censorship by fear' going on...

This'd require that your ISP log your traffic in the same detail as the target site, or that someone be watching your connection in real time.

 

Furthermore... I could just use an encrypted VPN over Tor, so attacks would be traced back to the VPN server, and the VPN couldn't be traced back to me. You couldn't correlate the VPN connection to Internet activity since the connection would be continuous, so the ISP would record one connection and you'd do numerous things through that connection. You could also add random scrambling activity (visiting random websites, sending random data, etc.) to mess up correlations.

 

So... the government can do things to catch you, but you can do things in response. The nerds always have one more trick.

 

I think that's the case...

 

not disagreeing with you tho: for all the above, i had a good read of teh gub'ments sekritz over HTML/web and am currently d/l'ing the archive via torrent, and have yet to be arrested or disconnected.

Indeed.

 

I'm sure these events will spur further development of Tor/Freenet-like systems. We'll just have to find out...

 


Ah, something interesting from the latest cables:

 

The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/09/wikileaks-cables-pfizer-nigeria

 

From the cable itself:

 

According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to Federal Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. He said Pfizer's investigators were passing this information to local media, XXXXXXXXXXXX. A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa's "alleged" corruption ties were published in February and March. Liggeri contended that Pfizer had much more damaging information on Aondoakaa and that Aondoakaa's cronies were pressuring him to drop the suit for fear of further negative articles.

 

Pfizer says:

 

Although Pfizer has not seen any documents from the US embassy in Nigeria regarding the federal government cases, the statements purportedly contained in such documents are completely false.
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To the extent that what WL is doing bothers me (overreaching the "Pentagon Papers" flag Assange drapes himself in), I think what the US government is doing in response is even more disturbing. I think of this less as the cyberwar of 2010 as much as I think it's an act in the reincarnation of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, with terrorism being the item used to cause fear, and an excuse by the government to do unconstitutional things "for our own good," and the attempt to stamp out WL is one part of the play.

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To the extent that what WL is doing bothers me (overreaching the "Pentagon Papers" flag Assange drapes himself in), I think what the US government is doing in response is even more disturbing. I think of this less as the cyberwar of 2010 as much as I think it's an act in the reincarnation of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, with terrorism being the item used to cause fear, and an excuse by the government to do unconstitutional things "for our own good," and the attempt to stamp out WL is one part of the play.

 

I think it's a point very much worth considering. I'm sure we'd all agree that it needs to be shown that the US was behind all that, but assuming it's true I think we have to take a serious look at that and decide whether we want the government participating in that sort of reaction to this kind of event.

 

I'm actually fine with having cyber war capabilities at the government level. It's a simple matter of realpolitik -- other countries are going to have them, so if we don't have them then we're vulnerable. I think we should pursue it in joint fashion with our allies and with a certain degree of transparency and clear rules, but I think we should pursue it.

 

But this is more like a reaction to "just looking bad". Some aspects of this I could see. Cyber-attacking an organization to stop the release of data that immediately endangers lives -- I would support that. Cyber-attacking an organization to stop the release of a document showing the president having a tryst with Lady Gaga, not so much.

 

The problem is there's a lot of gray area in between.

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I think it's a point very much worth considering. I'm sure we'd all agree that it needs to be shown that the US was behind all that, but assuming it's true I think we have to take a serious look at that and decide whether we want the government participating in that sort of reaction to this kind of event.

We don't have to limit ourselves to conspiratorial allegations of CIA involvement in the rape charges. The fact that prominent politicians demanded Assange's execution, abduction or assassination is alarming by itself. Then there are the claims that Wikileaks is a "terrorist organisation" or a "transnational threat" that needs to be hunted down and stopped.

 

In a country like ours, we should not be advocating that the government freely break its own laws to hunt down someone who possibly didn't even break the law at all. If only we had some sort of mechanism to have a group of people decide if the charges against a person are valid, and an appropriate punishment then be handed out to the perpetrator...

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To the extent that what WL is doing bothers me (overreaching the "Pentagon Papers" flag Assange drapes himself in), I think what the US government is doing in response is even more disturbing.[/Quote]

 

swansont; Assange has said his mentor is Rupert Murdock, a fellow Australian and one who moved to the UK, practiced, advocated Free Press and built his little empire. I do agree the primary disturbing aspect of this entire issue is the US Government, the lack of then followed up by an aggressive dominating attitude apparently being used. I might suggest many of the released documents suggest the same attitude toward other Nations or individuals....

 

I think of this less as the cyber war of 2010 as much as I think it's an act in the reincarnation of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, with terrorism being the item used to cause fear, and an excuse by the government to do unconstitutional things "for our own good," and the attempt to stamp out WL is one part of the play. [/Quote]

 

I don't have time tonight to get into "Red Scare & McCarthyism", however I don't think there's a remote comparison. Basically, Eugene McCarthy was a forerunner for Conservatism based on the Communism that had been influential in American Political/Business affairs for many years. As for taking a problem and using that problem to increase control over the people, is a basic principal of Socialism and yes, might be being currently implemented indirectly through the FCC, in an effort to control media, more importantly the Internet.

 

Yes, IMO this is a forerunner for what a real "Cyber War" would look like, making Wikileaks look like a trivial advocate. Assange however, to this point and IMO is operating legally. North Korea, Venezuela, Iran or maybe China, might not be as concerned with legality....

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The fact that prominent politicians demanded Assange's execution, abduction or assassination is alarming by itself.

 

Which politicians do you mean? I was under the impression that this was in the domain of screaming pundits rather than elected officials. What have I missed?

 

I saw a quote from Newt Gingrich on Jon Stewart last night, but he wasn't advocating execution, abduction or assassination. He seemed to be advocating arrest and prosecution as an "enemy combatant". Which is in my opinion a highly dubious idea, but I don't think it helps to conflate that idea with murder. But maybe there are some politicians that have crossed the line here that I just haven't heard about.

 

 

Then there are the claims that Wikileaks is a "terrorist organisation" or a "transnational threat" that needs to be hunted down and stopped.

 

In a country like ours, we should not be advocating that the government freely break its own laws to hunt down someone who possibly didn't even break the law at all. If only we had some sort of mechanism to have a group of people decide if the charges against a person are valid, and an appropriate punishment then be handed out to the perpetrator...

 

I agree.

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Tor has some specific attacks against it, yes, but not necessarily anonymity-busting ones. You can sniff traffic coming out of an exit node, but that won't give you the identity of the user, just whatever sites they're visiting. You can do various sniffing attacks on the rest of the network and narrow down the possibilities, but AFAIK there's no way to listen and break the anonymity totally. As for Freenet, careful use of darknets can mitigate the problem, I think. I don't know much about I2P.

 

My point is that the nature of the Internet makes it very difficult to police. You can only catch people using Tor if you're watching at exactly the right time -- if you begin investigating after the fact, you won't be able to mount the surveillance required to narrow down the users. Systems like BitTorrent make it very difficult to stop the distribution of files once it has started: you can try to shut down the central server, but once a few people have the file, they can share it with everyone else. The widespread availability of high-grade encryption makes it easy to hide secrets from the government.

 

Your only option would be to completely remake the Internet with security and identity features built-in.

 

There is always be the undernet or the darknet.

 

Something I find surprising about the Wikileaks stuff is that they didn't have a darknet prepared in the case their Wikileaks website was to be taken down. At least, darknets are created by people who've got an agenda. But maybe having no darknet says something about Assange's agenda: He doesn't really have one except telling the truth without too much resistance.

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Apparently there is now anon support/hacking retaliation for wikileaks. So this just went from wikileaks being illegal but more like a nuisance fly, to something very freaking illegal that could affect billions.

 

This quite obviously shows the lack of infrastructure and security on the web. sure anyone can connect to it, but there needs to be some better controls and infrastructure within the Internets Architecture. Also it shows a need for a government agency to do some net patrolling/policing. sure you will still have hackers, but just like society and the physical world we live in, without police you have anarchy. i see the same should be applied to the incorporeal internet.

I see no real difference between the internet, and the physical world. Both are operating in nearly the same way, both follow the same set of parameters that force it to evolve along a specific path. So both should be policed in a similar manner.

I certainly am not an anon apologist, but what is the difference between DDoSing a business online, and protesting en mass at their corporate headquarters? Unless security is breached (ie, trespassing is involved) or damage is done that requires repair (broken windows or damaged data) it's a protest that is announced, carried out, and dispersed. How is clogging up a public area online to hamper business any different than clogging up a public street in front of an abortion clinic to hamper business?

 

It's very different in a practical sense, as ensuring a protesters engaging in illegal actions are singled out and arrested is much more difficult and the impact on the target's business can be far higher - but it's not in the same category as the hacking of Palin's email password. I have no idea what the legal letter of the law is in the US, but I think "cyberprotest" and "cyberwarfare" (and cyberterrorism) shouldn't be too readily conflated. As long as no third party hardware is hijacked, the target site is entirely public, and no false credentials are used to access any non-public subsystems, and the activity occurs as a publicly stated protest beforehand, the characteristics of the "attack" fall far more along the lines of a peaceful protest when compared to physical real-world activities.

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but assuming it's true I think we have to take a serious look at that and decide whether we want the government participating in that sort of reaction to this kind of event.

 

wouldn't "tak[ing] a serious look at [what the gov' is doing]" require that the gov' don't have the ability to arbitrarily suppress information about what they're doing?

 

Given that the entire point of censorship is that you can't see what's being censored, isn't it the case that you can't differentiate between arbitrary and non-arbitrary censorship, thus limiting your choices to some, unknown amount of censorship or none?

 

How much of what's blocked as child porn is child porn? how much is political criticizm? is the fact that you've never heard allegations of political suppression by the Department of Stopping Child Porn actually meaningful, as this allegation would be political criticizm and thus logically just be censored if that's what they do? Hell, how do you know anything about child porn given that your perception of it is literally blocked? Where do your perceptions of child porn come from? Is it from the only people allowed to admit to having Knowledge of Child Porn? how much crap could they make you swallow about child porn because it doesn't conflict with anything you know about child porn, given that knowledge of child porn is forbidden so you don't actually know anything about it, except what the government tells you? Could you be persuaded there's an Aweful Lot of It, certainly Enough to Justify Suspension of the First Amendment? as opposed to Hardly Any?

 

Can you apply these concepts to Necessary Censorship of Certain Legitimate Government Actions For Your Own Good?

 

This is why free speech is part of your constitution, and why you're constitutionally allowed to shoot a government that breaks the constitution (e.g., who censor you), and why I'm suprized to see Patriotic Americuns tolerate any censorship let alone demand it.

 

Ah, but a lack of censorship would allow Child Porn, which -- as we all 'know' -- there is an Aweful Lot Of. certainly Enough to Justify Suspension of the First Amendment. We know this because the government tell us so. Plus some crap about Terrorism, which we Also Know Justifies Suspension of the First Amendment. We know this because the government have checked on our behalves, and they say it's both prolific and horrific enough that they need to censor the internets. they've also checked and confirm that's all they're censoring, so don't worry. Or check, or you'll go to jail. But double-don't-worry, other people are allowed to check, and if they find out we're censoring the media in any other way, they can tell you via our uncensored media. Apart from wikileaks. Who will become terrorists just as soon as it's the case that you can't check what they're actually doing.

 

I think it's the case that if 'wikileaks' win, the gov's response to this situation will be perceived as either a bad or a justified thing; if the gov' win, the gov's response will mostly just not be perceived.

 

Which leaves you in the position whereby if you actually want to be able to "take a serious look at that and decide whether we want the government participating in that sort of reaction to this kind of event", you need the government to not take that sort of reaction to this kind of event.

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Which politicians do you mean? I was under the impression that this was in the domain of screaming pundits rather than elected officials. What have I missed?

 

I saw a quote from Newt Gingrich on Jon Stewart last night, but he wasn't advocating execution, abduction or assassination. He seemed to be advocating arrest and prosecution as an "enemy combatant". Which is in my opinion a highly dubious idea, but I don't think it helps to conflate that idea with murder. But maybe there are some politicians that have crossed the line here that I just haven't heard about.

Fair 'nuff. Palin says he should be "hunted down", and there was that Canadian former government advisor who openly called for assassination. The politicians have merely screamed for prosecution, though Huckabee called for the execution of whoever leaked the documents.

 

There is always be the undernet or the darknet.

 

Something I find surprising about the Wikileaks stuff is that they didn't have a darknet prepared in the case their Wikileaks website was to be taken down. At least, darknets are created by people who've got an agenda. But maybe having no darknet says something about Assange's agenda: He doesn't really have one except telling the truth without too much resistance.

You neglected to mention the insurance file, which purportedly has all the unreleased cables. Also, the five newspaper partners have copies of all the unredacted cables, so an attack would have to take out the news sources as well -- which would be far more dangerous than attacking Wikileaks. (Newspapers enjoy better PR and more lawyers.)

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wouldn't "tak[ing] a serious look at [what the gov' is doing]" require that the gov' don't have the ability to arbitrarily suppress information about what they're doing?

 

But it's not arbitrary. It's quite purposeful. And it's not purposeful as an abuse of power or corruption, either. Security is an important purpose -- it's what we put them in charge specifically for, and I like to think that most of those involved take it very seriously.

 

I don't mean to suggest that you don't comprehend this personally, just if we in society are going to have this particular public policy debate, then we should consider the very real importance of security and not dismiss it as arbitrary. These debates aren't just undermined by security weenies screaming about terrorists, they're also undermined by freedom weenies whining about invasion of privacy. The workable reality is somewhere in between.

 

 

Given that the entire point of censorship is that you can't see what's being censored, isn't it the case that you can't differentiate between arbitrary and non-arbitrary censorship, thus limiting your choices to some, unknown amount of censorship or none?

 

Yes, but I don't think even you support total transparency. What about revealing the names of undercover agents and informants? And it goes a lot deeper than that -- there's a whole laundry list of stuff I don't need to know, and am better off not knowing.

 

Which brings me to a bigger point: You're absolutely right, there's no way to know what was censored and why, and all too often we hear about stuff down the road that was censored for reasons that were more political in nature than they were about security.

 

Which is why two things are so critical in a successful democracy:

1) Voting at least partially on character.

2) Not assaulting people's character because of an ideological preference that the candidate doesn't meet (e.g. "George Bush doesn't care about black people.").

 

----------------

 

Fair 'nuff. Palin says he should be "hunted down", and there was that Canadian former government advisor who openly called for assassination. The politicians have merely screamed for prosecution, though Huckabee called for the execution of whoever leaked the documents.

 

Oh geez. Well I didn't need any more reasons to dislike Palin, but I didn't know that about Huckabee and he was on my list of Republicans whom I wanted to look at for a 2012 vote. That's disappointing, but maybe it shouldn't be surprising given that it's not the first semi-twisted thing I've heard from him since he got his own show on FNC. (sigh)

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I don't have time tonight to get into "Red Scare & McCarthyism", however I don't think there's a remote comparison. Basically, Eugene McCarthy was a forerunner for Conservatism based on the Communism that had been influential in American Political/Business affairs for many years. As for taking a problem and using that problem to increase control over the people, is a basic principal of Socialism and yes, might be being currently implemented indirectly through the FCC, in an effort to control media, more importantly the Internet.

 

 

So McCarthy was a Socialist?

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But it's not arbitrary. It's quite purposeful. And it's not purposeful as an abuse of power or corruption, either. Security is an important purpose -- it's what we put them in charge specifically for, and I like to think that most of those involved take it very seriously.

 

I don't mean to suggest that you don't comprehend this personally, just if we in society are going to have this particular public policy debate, then we should consider the very real importance of security and not dismiss it as arbitrary.

 

Usually, I guess i'd be saying 'how do you know censorship isn't arbitrarily applied?'. Due to the wikileaks breach in security, i can instead say 'you can see that it is being arbitrarily used to censor non-security stuff'... at least for now. That's what i meant by needing wikileaks to 'win' if you want a meaningful national discussion about this.

 

 

Yes, but I don't think even you support total transparency. What about revealing the names of undercover agents and informants? And it goes a lot deeper than that -- there's a whole laundry list of stuff I don't need to know, and am better off not knowing.

 

I'm happy differentiating between 'censorship' and 'redaction', where i'd define supressing 'we used informants' as censorship, and 'his name was john smith' as redaction -- ways and means are ok to suppress.

 

Also, 'not censoring everything' != transparency: if it's necessary to keep the fact you used informants secret, just don't tell anyone. But if anyone finds out, i guess "don't censor them" is what i'm saying.

 

Anyway, i think most the security arguments are red herrings. You think Russia couldn't access this data before? If the info was important to someone from a security pov, they'd already have it if we managed to get it. They'd especially have it now, so taking WL down is clearly an attempt to censor information from US, not THEM.

 

Which brings me to a bigger point: You're absolutely right, there's no way to know what was censored and why, and all too often we hear about stuff down the road that was censored for reasons that were more political in nature than they were about security.

 

Which is why two things are so critical in a successful democracy:

1) Voting at least partially on character.

2) Not assaulting people's character because of an ideological preference that the candidate doesn't meet (e.g. "George Bush doesn't care about black people.").

 

Yeah, that's my point. you're being forced to trust people to make your decisions on your behalf, and judging their worthiness (and whether they're doing an ok job) based on censored information.

 

That's why free speech is part of your constitution. why isn't your pres' impeached for breaking the 1st amendment?

 

----

 

perhaps this is a cultural thing? Having seen the portrail by the british media of the IRA during the Troubles and then after... we went from 'irish people blow shit up for no reason' to 'oh, that's why they did it'; from 'nothing to see here' to 'oh, the british didn't behave perfectly in ireland'. from blind support of 'our side' to thinking maybe it'd only have been fare if we had gone on strike to try to control 'our' own government. Maybe, had we known, the stance on the Troubles would have been a bigger election issue within the UK?

 

note: i'm not saying the IRA were perfect. just that the good aspects of the IRA (sinn fein persuing peace, for example) were hidden from us, whilst the bad aspects of our side (extralegal executions, for example) were hidden from us. Obviously we couldn't see this being done at the time.

 

So... perhaps i'm more inclined than you to believe censorship would actually be abused by a 'civilized' western 'democracy' to manipulate public opinion, so they can get away with being the Baddies.

 

I believe you're currently engaged in a terrorist war yourself. Is it the case that they blow shit up for no good reason, whilst you do nothing bad to them?

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I'm not sure I really follow your point anymore, Dak.

 

And I really don't understand any "censorship" or "transparency" argument along the lines of "people aren't aware of X", where X is some knowledge that intelligent people who are paying attention to know about, but the typical man on the street does not. That's not a transparency or censorship issue, that's a matter of education and motivation.

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