The internet revolution is upon us, whether the old fuddy duddies like it or no, writes
John Naughton, a columnist for the Guardian.
'"Never waste a good crisis" used to be the catchphrase of the Obama team in the runup to the presidential election. In that spirit, let us see what we can learn from official reactions to the WikiLeaks revelations.
'The most obvious lesson is that it represents the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the internet. There have been skirmishes before, but this is the real thing.
'And as the backlash unfolds – first with deniable attacks on internet service providers hosting WikiLeaks, later with companies like Amazon and eBay and PayPal suddenly "discovering" that their terms and conditions preclude them from offering services to WikiLeaks, and then with the US government attempting to intimidate Columbia students posting updates about WikiLeaks on Facebook – the intolerance of the old order is emerging from the rosy mist in which it has hitherto been obscured. The response has been vicious, co-ordinated and potentially comprehensive, and it contains hard lessons for everyone who cares about democracy and about the future of the net.
'There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down.'
More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/06/western-democracies-must-live-with-leaks
A ringing endorsement of Wikileaks by Evan Hansen is found at Threat Level http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/wikileaks-editorial/#more-21432
A group of Internet activists calling themselves Operation Payback have taken credit for shutting down the website of a bank that earlier Monday froze funds belonging to WikiLeaks.
Announcing its successful hack on a Twitter account, the group declared, "We will fire at anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks."
Earlier in the day, Swiss bank PostFinance issued a statement announcing that it had frozen 31,000 euro ($41,000 US) in an account set up as a legal defense fund for Assange.
Of the account closure, Wikileaks said in a statement, "One of the most fascinating aspects of the Cablegate exposure is how it is throwing into relief the power dynamics between supposedly independent states like Switzerland, Sweden and Australia."
True, the entire system is rigged to "get" a journalist who has been branded not legitimate.
What is amazing is that, on balance, the cache of secret and confidential cables is good for Obama and Clinton. Much of the stuff is tame, and that which is a bit eyebrow raising does little to harm America's image -- at least among Americans.
What the control freaks are freaking about is not the content but the fact that their control of information has been challenged and their fear that they may lose control of their precious system of falsehoods and deceptions used to justify venal, criminal abuse of power.
An example of a tame cable is one by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instructing diplomats on how to respond to press inquiries concerning NATO contingency plans for protecting the Baltic states. Yes, the Russians can use the cable to make some noise, but its contents just aren't all that unsettling.
On the other hand, it is true that by having a large cache of cables, it is possible to recognize patterns that point to major trouble points, as the New York Times has been demonstrating.
Most of those cables haven't been release and Assange has warned that the U.S. campaign against him and his press organization will not prevent more bombshell disclosures.
American ugliness is spotlighted by the Guardian which interprets secret cables to show that Americans, irked at the decision to release the Libyan accused as the Lockerbie bomber, paid back the British by refusing a deal to permit an Asperger's syndrome patient to serve his sentence in Britain after he hacked into U.S. defense computers looking for UFO information.
At any rate, here is the Clinton cable on the Baltics:
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 007810
EO 12958 DECL: 01/22/2020
TAGS MARR, MCAP, NATO, PREL, EN, LG, LH, PL
SUBJECT: EXPANSION OF EAGLE GUARDIAN TO INCLUDE BALTIC
REF: A. USNATO 35 B. 09 STATE 127892
Classified By: EUR PDAS Nancy McEldowney for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (U) This is an action cable. Please see paragraphs 3-4.
¶2. (S) Summary and Action Request. On January 22 NATO Allies agreed in the Military Committee to expand the NATO Contingency Plan for Poland, EAGLE GUARDIAN, to include the defense and reinforcement of the Baltic States. Posts in Allied capitals should be prepared to explain, as necessary, U.S. support for this approach and how it fits within our broader vision for NATO contingency planning, as well as how to respond to media inquiries on the matter. Posts are asked to draw on the points below, as necessary, in discussions on this issue. End Summary and Action Request.
¶3. (C) Posts need not engage host government officials proactively on NATO contingency planning at this time, but are encouraged to use the points below as the basis for discussions on the matter as needed.
(S/REL NATO) CONTINGENCY POINTS (FOR USE AT POST,S DISCRETION)
-- The United States believes that NATO - as a matter of course - should conduct appropriate contingency planning for the possible defense of Allied territory and populations.
-- As President Obama said in Prague: “We must work together as NATO members so that we have contingency plans in place to deal with new threats, wherever they may come from.”
-- The U.S. welcomes the decision to expand EAGLE GUARDIAN to include the defense of the Baltic states, and sees it as a logical military extension of the existing contingency plan that fits well within the existing scenario.
-- We see the expansion of EAGLE GUARDIAN as a step toward the possible expansion of NATO’s other existing country-specific contingency plans into regional plans. This is the first step in a multi-stage process to develop a complete set of appropriate contingency plans for the full range of possible threats - both regional and functional - as soon as possible. At the same time, we believe contingency planning is only one element of NATO’s Article 5 preparedness.
(S/REL NATO) POINTS ABOUT PUBLIC DISCUSSION OF PLANS (FOR USE AT POST’S DISCRETION)
-- The United States believes strongly that such planning should not be discussed publicly. These military plans are classified at the NATO SECRET level.
-- The Alliance has many public diplomacy tools at its disposal. Contingency planning is not one of them. What we should do is explore other public steps for demonstrating the vitality of Article 5, such as exercises, defense investment, and partnerships.
-- Public discussion of contingency plans undermines their military value, giving insight into NATO’s planning processes. This weakens the security of all Allies.
-- A public discussion of contingency planning would also likely lead to an unnecessary increase in NATO-Russia tensions, something we should try to avoid as we work to improve practical cooperation in areas of common NATO-Russia interest.
-- We hope that we can count on your support in keeping discussions on NATO contingency planning out of the public domain.
-- We should work together to develop strategies - to include activities such as exercises, defense investment, and partnerships - for demonstrating to our publics that Article 5’s value ultimately lies in NATO’s capabilities and deterrence, rather than specific planning.
¶4. (C) Washington strongly believes that the details of NATO,s contingency plans should remain in confidential channels. However, recent press coverage of NATO decisions regarding possible contingency planning options for the Baltic region may lead to additional media inquiries. If necessary, posts may use the points below in responding to
STATE 00007810 002 OF 002
(U) PUBLIC/PRESS INQUIRIES -- IF ASKED:
-- NATO does not discuss specific plans.
-- As a matter of course, however, NATO engages in planning in order to be as prepared as possible for whatever situations might arise, particularly as relates to its ability to carrying out its Article 5 commitments.
-- Plans are not static. NATO is constantly reviewing and revising its plans.
-- NATO planning is an internal process designed to make the Alliance as prepared as possible for future contingencies. It is not “aimed” at any other country.
-- President Obama acknowledged this when he said at Prague that “We must work together as NATO members so that we have contingency plans in place to deal with new threats, wherever they may come from.” CLINTON