Sunday, December 05, 2010

And it's still trying to be

Even in the face of all the attacks on WikiLeaks, there has been pushback.

First, although the main site, resolved by EveryDNS, is gone, has been taken down, there are numerous mirror sites. In fact, there are now hundreds of them, specifically as a result of the attempt to kill WikiLeaks. And the site itself is still up via servers in other countries, where some companies are not as spineless as some US ones.

For example, in response to the demand from the French minister for industry, energy and digital economy that WikiLeaks not be hosted in France, the company that does host it, OVH, refused, saying:
It is not up to politicians or OVH to demand or decide the closure of a site, but to the justice system.
In Sweden, WikiLeaks is hosted by a company called Bahnhof. In response to an inquiry from The Daily Beast, CEO Jon Karlung wrote:
"The service is provided in Sweden—where Swedish law applies... We are not subject to American law, Chinese laws or Iranian laws either, for that matter. WikiLeaks is just a normal business client. We do not treat them any different than any other client."

Has the United States government reached out to ask you to deny hosting for WikiLeaks? "No."

Would you revoke hosting capabilities if so? "Of course not."

What's more, WikiLeaks' new Swiss registrar, Switch, said there was "no reason" why it should be forced offline.

There also was pushback from organizations of reporters and journalists. For one example, the International Federation of Journalists

condemned the political backlash being mounted against the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks and accused the United States of attacking free speech after it put pressure on the website's host server to shut down the site yesterday.
And Reporters Without Borders said it

can only condemn this determination to hound Assange and reiterates its conviction that WikiLeaks has a right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to publish these documents and is even playing a useful role by making them available to journalists and the greater public.
There was also some support from within the media itself - usually involving, no big surprise, non-US outlets. For example, Der Spiegel (Germany), while acknowledging it had consulted with the US before publishing the cables and accepted some objections, still said that
[i]t is now possible to view many political developments around the world through the lens of those who participated in those events. As such, our understanding of those events is deeply enriched. That alone is often enough to place transparency ahead of national regulations regarding confidentiality.
And The Economist (UK), a generally politically conservative magazine, published a piece titled "In defense of WikiLeaks" which declared:
If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents. ... Organisations such as WikiLeaks, which are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy.
(Those last two links via the very useful Pruning Shears.)

As for politicians and other public figures, while some were screaming "enemy noncombatant" and "terrorist" and "traitor" and "kill him," at least one - Ron Paul - expressed some sanity:
“In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”
(I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Personal privacy and civil liberties are areas where the left and the right can overlap and combine in unusual ways.)

There is one other absolutely essential point to be made here: The government's claims that the release of the cables is a devastating attack on the US which will get innocent people killed is at best significantly exaggerated. In fact, at a defense briefing last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates positively played down the importance of the release, labeling claims that the impact on US foreign policy amounts to a "meltdown" or a "game-changer" as "fairly significantly overwrought." He even referred to a quote wondering "how can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations," that being "dangerous and pernicious." The speaker was John Adams.

Two days before that, the McClatchy news service had reported that "officials may be overstating" the effect of the release and could not name anyone who had been harmed or threatened as a result of WikiLeaks' actions.

This is the same thing that happened with the summertime release of the documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: They were going to "get people killed," was the cry. "Assange has blood on his hands" screeched more than one. But months later, there was "no evidence" that anyone named in the documents had been harmed in retaliation.

So WikiLeaks has survived, at least so far, and that despite the best efforts of several governments, lead by the US. That effort has not even succeeded more than partly in shifting the focus from what's in the cables to the government's preferred focus, the fact of their release. WikiLeaks has been bruised, and it could use some help. But despite, again, the efforts of the US government and others, it is not isolated, it is not cut off, and it is not without support.

That is a good thing.

Footnote: A number of the links above (and in the previous post) were originally found at WL Central, which describes itself as "an unofficial WikiLeaks information resource." It looks like a good place to keep up on relevant events.

2 comments:

JM said...

There's suspicion of government conspiracy too:
http://anglachelg.blogspot.com/2010/11/wikileaks-cuo-bono.html

But then why would the government be after the guy if they participated in the leaking? Granted, she's got a sobering analysis of the publicity here:
http://anglachelg.blogspot.com/2010/12/foreign-and-domestic.html

I don't really care of Amazon doesn't host him, it's their choice.

LarryE said...

See here for my response/comment.

 
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