Wikileaks and the Business of America

We care more about copyright "pirates" than national security.

The rules governing the operation of the Internet are still in a state of flux.  Reuters reports that the US government has shut down a number of web sites which offered pirated goods:

Law enforcement officials said on Monday they had shut down 82 websites selling thousands of counterfeit and pirated goods in a move timed with the start of the online holiday shopping season.

"As of today -- what is known as 'Cyber Monday' and billed as the busiest online shopping day of the year -- anyone attempting to access one of these websites using its domain name will no longer be able to make a purchase," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters.

This move is welcomed by merchants and manufacturers who claim that traffic in counterfeit goods has cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and put consumer safety at risk.  The New York Times reported that the web site crackdown also included web sites that gave away pirated music and movies:

In what appears to be the latest phase of a far-reaching federal crackdown on online piracy of music and movies, the Web addresses of a number of sites that facilitate illegal file-sharing were seized this week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

It seems that the government has taken an interest in suppressing illicit use of copyrighted material.  Cynics assume that the government is merely testing its power to shut down chunks of the Internet if and when it ever starts to become too threatening to the ruling elites but business leaders thought that the government's support of business-oriented web sites was a step in the right direction.

No Breakfast for Tiffany

Things haven't always gone the way of copyright holders of late, however, as the Supreme Court recently rejected Tiffany's appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of eBay.

Tiffany had sued eBay because counterfeit "Tiffany" goods are often available on the auction site.  Tiffany claimed that sales sites such as Amazon, Google, or eBay should be held liable when counterfeit goods are sold, even if they have no way to know which goods are counterfeit.  The First Sale Doctrine, of course, protects the right of owners of genuine Tiffany goods to resell them and to truthfully describe them as being Tiffany, and since no eBay employee ever lays eyes on the goods being auctioned, there's no way for them to know which is which.

The lower courts had ruled that eBay was not listing the counterfeit goods itself and so they were not liable.  The fact that eBay had spent a great deal of effort trying to keep counterfeit goods off its site might have weighed in the decision.

Take care of Assange, already!

What about Wikileaks?

Given that the government can shut down commercial web sites with or without a court order, what about Wikileaks?  News reports of all political persuasions are filling the air with juicy tidbits from the 250,000 diplomatic cables which were posted on the Wikileaks site.  These cables reveal background chatter between our diplomats and government officials all over the world which were supposed to be kept strictly private for at least a quarter-century.  These "private" observations about the personality and ethics of world leaders and their global minions are causing red faces in chancelleries everywhere.  For everyone in the diplomatic community to know that Ambassador So-and-so's wife is a drunk and Minister Somebody-else gossips like a mad fiend is one thing; to see it on TV screens everywhere is quite another.

Hillary Clinton is portraying the leak as an attack on the international community itself and Attorney General Eric holder assures us that those responsible will be brought to account.  This is hard to believe - Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, have been slapping the face of the international community with rotting fishes for a long time, and nothing whatsoever has been done about it.

Ironically, the leaks are alleged to come from a data sharing network that was set up in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.  It was pretty clear that the various intelligence agencies were not sharing data.  Although the data which might have caught the panty-bomber before he got on the plane were not shared, the State Department network integrates data from a great many government databases.  With over 500,000 authorized users, it would appear that data were made more accessible than security considerations would have suggested.

Assange, the International Outlaw

By publicly revealing classified information, Mr. Assange has placed himself outside the protection of any law.  Under international law and protocol, he is not merely a spy, he is a stateless independent spy with no protecting power.

Thus, as happened frequently during the cold war, he could be expected to have an unfortunate car accident or even turn up knifed in a dark alley.  According to protocol, the world's police would traditionally frown solemnly and say "How sad!"  Serious powers protect their secrets by whatever means necessary, as the Washington Post points out:

Is the United States of America really powerless to stop a nomadic cyber-hacker - who sleeps on people's couches and changes his hair color to avoid surveillance - from causing enormous damage to our national security?  Apparently, in the age of Obama, we are.

Which nations don't protect their secrets?  Those who are so weak as to be unable to do so.  By the mere fact that Julian Assange is breathing oxygen, he is a living rebuke to the idea of America as, not merely a superpower, but as a power of any sort at all.

Even the French take drastic action when their military secrets are threatened: their secret agents sank Greenpeace's flagship in a neutral port rather than tolerate interference with or observation of their nuclear tests.  Being French, they botched their mission and got caught - but the ship still got sunk and the tests went ahead, though they were significantly delayed.  Despite international condemnation, the French had demonstrated that they did have national interests, knew what they were, and would at least attempt to defend them.

Does Barack Obama know that America has national interests and national secrets?  Does he consider them worth defending, or does he not?  Is he afraid that our secret agencies lack the competence to adequately yet privately take care of Wikileaks?  If the latter, we sympathize with his problem - but that's all the more reason to concentrate on fixing it rather than wasting government efforts on financially-irritating but otherwise harmless copyright violators.

There was a time when our government seemed so caught up in great-power international diplomacy that they forgot about protecting our business interests.  Their work to suppress piracy might be a step towards settling on pro-business policies that would actually create jobs, but we shouldn't do that at the cost of forgetting about great power matters.  Or is the business of America's government once again only business, and not national security at all?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

The Times agrees that Wikileaks is not a good thing.

For someone with his mind-set, the decision to expose secrets is easy. If the hidden world is suspect, then everything should be revealed. As The New Yorker reported, WikiLeaks has published technical details about an Army device designed to prevent roadside bombs from detonating. It posted soldiers’ Social Security numbers. This week, the group celebrated the release of internal State Department documents with a triumphalist statement claiming that the documents expose the corruption, hypocrisy and venality of U.S. diplomats.

As journalists, they have a professional obligation to share information that might help people make informed decisions. That means asking questions like: How does the U.S. government lobby allies? What is the real nature of our relationship with Pakistani intelligence? At the same time, as humans and citizens, my colleagues know they have a moral obligation not to endanger lives or national security.

The Times has thus erected a series of filters between the 250,000 raw documents that WikiLeaks obtained and complete public exposure. The paper has released only a tiny percentage of the cables. Information that might endanger informants has been redacted. Specific cables have been put into context with broader reporting.

Yet it might be useful to consider one more filter. Consider it the World Order filter. The fact that we live our lives amid order and not chaos is the great achievement of civilization. This order should not be taken for granted.

This order is tenuously maintained by brave soldiers but also by talkative leaders and diplomats. Every second of every day, leaders and diplomats are engaged in a never-ending conversation. The leaked cables reveal this conversation. They show diplomats seeking information, cajoling each other and engaging in faux-friendships and petty hypocrisies as they seek to avoid global disasters.

Despite the imaginings of people like Assange, the conversation revealed in the cables is not devious and nefarious. The private conversation is similar to the public conversation, except maybe more admirable. Israeli and Arab diplomats can be seen reacting sympathetically and realistically toward one another. The Americans in the cables are generally savvy and honest. Iran’s neighbors are properly alarmed and reaching out.

Some people argue that this diplomatic conversation is based on mechanical calculations about national self-interest, and it won’t be affected by public exposure. But this conversation, like all conversations, is built on relationships. The quality of the conversation is determined by the level of trust. Its direction is influenced by persuasion and by feelings about friends and enemies.

The quality of the conversation is damaged by exposure, just as our relationships with our neighbors would be damaged if every private assessment were brought to the light of day. We’ve seen what happens when conversations deteriorate (look at the U.S. Congress), and it’s ugly.

The WikiLeaks dump will probably damage the global conversation. Nations will be less likely to share with the United States. Agencies will be tempted to return to the pre-9/11 silos. World leaders will get their back up when they read what is said about them. Cooperation against Iran may be harder to maintain because Arab leaders feel exposed and boxed in. This fragile international conversation is under threat. It’s under threat from WikiLeaks. It’s under threat from a Gresham’s Law effect, in which the level of public exposure is determined by the biggest leaker and the biggest traitor.

November 30, 2010 11:29 AM

Mr Assange is hardly an international outlaw if no one has charged him with anything. The real criminal— begging the Q that there is one, other than the State Dept ppl who, like Nixon, cover up crimes they know about— is the source of the material who allegedly used a flash drive & CDs to export the material.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones; ppl who are employed in sensitive areas should not compromise their trust.
Some of us call that morality.
Others think the ends, however vague or unsubstantiated, justify the means.
The latter eschew any sense of good and would make excellent politicians.

November 30, 2010 7:29 PM

I have not read all 250,000 or so documents recently released by Wikileaks, but from a variety of press accounts the big document dump appears to be little more than a sort of People magazine for diplomats. Hardly an "attack on the international community itself."

"By publicly revealing classified information, Mr. Assange has placed himself outside the protection of any law."

Oh honkey, please. Protecting the American Empire's "secrets" is Uncle Sam's business, not Assange's.

November 30, 2010 11:01 PM

"Protecting the American Empire's "secrets" is Uncle Sam's business, not Assange's."

Yep - which is why it's Uncle Sam's business to shut him up. Continually tweak the tiger's tail and you have to expect to get bitten. Why hasn't this happened?

December 1, 2010 11:29 AM

Reuters says prosecuting Wikileaks would be hard

(Reuters) - U.S. authorities could face insurmountable legal hurdles if they try to bring criminal charges against elusive WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange, even if he sets foot on U.S. soil.

The Justice Department is investigating a series of leaks of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents that the whistleblower website has provided to news media and made public on its own website.

But three specialists in espionage law said prosecuting someone like Assange on those charges would require evidence the defendant was not only in contact with representatives of a foreign power but also intended to provide them with secrets.

No such evidence has surfaced, or has even been alleged, in the case of WikiLeaks or Assange, an Australian-born former computer hacker who has become an international celebrity.

December 1, 2010 5:35 PM

The Times has several articles about WikiLeaks:

American Diplomacy Revealed - as Good
The State Department cables released by WikiLeaks will undermine America's diplomats, but they emerge with high honors.

Dangerous Liaisons
The trove of cables released by WikiLeaks reveal many of the underhanded dealings of American Diplomats. But they are nothing compared to what ambassadors did in the past.

The Secret Lives of Nations

December 3, 2010 11:10 AM

It's reported that the White House has come with the appropriate response - a Security Policy review which will start by hiring yet another bureaucrat! What a STIFF response! WikiLeaks must be trembling in its server farm - which no doubt is why they've moved to a "James-Bond villain-like" facility as described in

This describes our White House's preferred response for darn near anything - appoint a committee and stall until the scandal blows over:

The U.S. government plans to take steps to address glaring holes in its security policy and cyber infrastructure in a comprehensive effort to prevent a recurrence of the recent WikiLeaks breach.

The multiagency effort includes the appointment of a new National Security Advisor as well as a thorough examination of how the Executive Branch shares and protects classified information.

"Our national security requires that sensitive information be maintained in confidence to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland and our partners. Protecting information critical to our national security is the responsibility of each individual and agency granted access to classified information," a White House statement said Thursday.

Thus far, the focus on security includes the Dec. 1 hiring of Russell Travers, a deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center, who will serve as the national security staff's senior advisor for information access and security policy.

In his position, Travers will lead the charge to identify and implement the structural reforms following of the WikiLeaks breach, including advising national security staff on corrective actions, mitigation and policy recommendations related to the breach.

Also in a move directly related to the WikiLeaks breach, the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) will take an independent look at the means by which the Executive branch of government shares and protects classified information.

The PIAB plans to conduct a thorough examination of the government's security posture, focusing specifically on classified data leaks, while weighing the balance between the need to share and protect information.

The PIAB also plans to work with departments to raise awareness about the severity of the breach and insider threats in general and examine how prepared the government is to address the challenges of impending security threats, information sharing and transparency.

Meanwhile, security experts contend that in light of the size and scope of the WikiLeaks breach, it likely will be a matter of time before the insider is tracked down.

"I think that with the size of the leak it is going to be relatively simple to track down the source. There are some logs somewhere and this kind of access must have left evidence in some of them," said Amichai Shulman, chief security officer with Redwood Shores, Calif.-based security vendor Imperva. "Basically I think that this is an easy one that should have been detected a priori. Harder to investigate are incidents where a small number of very sensitive documents are leaking."

December 3, 2010 1:26 PM

I was wondering which side of the fence Scragged would come down on. I suspect true conservatives might have a hard time coming down on either side. I read this article and I'm seeing advocacy of a secret police assassinating people who, while not technically breaking any laws, are acting against what the State sees as its best interests. Sam suggests a filter on information designed to protect the "World Order". There is an implied assertion that sometimes, the State knows best what the people should and should not be aware of. This sounds suspiciously like the same sort of rhetoric conservatives warn us lies at the true core of socialism.

I have no knowledge of any specific piece of information revealed on wikileaks that threatens "national security", but we all know that the State could find some way or other to argue that virtually anything threatens "national security" -- the same way it can "prove" that virtually anything concerns "interstate trade" enough that the Fed can justify regulating it. My assertion is that any legal prosecution of Assange on the part of the Federal government will result in a broadening of Federal power -- which I would expect true conservatives to oppose.

Of course, that's not what is being advocated here. What I see is the advocation of murder. That is also interesting.

December 3, 2010 2:57 PM

Werebat, you are mistaken on both counts. But you've raised good points that deserve an answer.

First, this has nothing in particular to do with expansion of Federal power. National defense has ALWAYS been a Federal power; nothing new there.

Not technically breaking any laws? Revealing classified information and committing espionage IS breaking the law. What's more, American citizens have rights to due process - but Assange is NOT an American citizen nor is he in the United States. As Scragged has extensively discussed in relation to illegal immigrants, he thus has no right to Constitutional protections under principles of international reciprocity.

What he is, is a spy, by definition - one who obtains and disseminates the military and governmental secrets of a nation. Under international law for five hundred years, and general custom for thousands of years before that, the penalty for espionage is DEATH.

What is more, again under international law and custom, no due-process trial is required for a noncitizen spy of an enemy power - a simple finding of fact and summary execution will suffice. As recently as WWII, Nazi spies infiltrating American lines in American uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge were summarily shot when captured.

Assange is a citizen of a neutral power, involving himself in an ongoing war under false cover of civilian clothing, perpetrating espionage. All international law and precedent permits, not his murder, but his execution, by whatever means are most convenient.

Were he a U.S. citizen or legally in the United States, his arrest, trial, and THEN execution would be appropriate. But he's not.

He's a fighter on the enemy side just like any other; why should he receive special protections?

Start meddling in espionage, and you deserve whatever you get. Spies know this which is why they generally get paid very well.

December 3, 2010 3:16 PM


Understood that Assange is not a US citizen, and is therefore not protected by our Constitution. That is a fair point.

If he were a US citizen, you claim that his arrest, trial, and THEN execution (I'm assuming you mean "provided he were found guilty") would be appropriate. However, as has already been pointed out, legal experts are saying that it would be difficult to actually charge Assange with a crime here (presumably including the crime of espionage). Advocating that the government casually whack him for doing something that wouldn't actually be a crime for a US citizen to commit and would have the same effect if it were done by a US citizen is advocating the broadening of Federal power, any way you slice it. Where does that end? Conservatives should understand the dangers of granting the State overbroad powers of authority over something as nebulous as "national security".

Whoever handed the information over to Assange is undoubtedly guilty of something and it would be fair to prosecute that person to the full extent of the law (unless -- and I am thinking morally rather than legally here -- they did what they did in order to expose or prevent a crime, although that does not appear to have been the case).

December 3, 2010 5:30 PM

The upshot that if one is not a "Conservative" then revealing the idiocy & immorality of the State Dept, whether citizen or not, is a crime?
Since when is reporting a crime so wrong?
It is interesting how kidnapping, torture and incarceration w/o a trial is second nature to those of a statist bent, for whom the State can do no wrong, and anyone who disagrees is a threat.
You're right, I am too.. come get me.
And this is how Obama got elected— the voters thought nothing was worse then the Bush/Cheney axis of evil.

December 3, 2010 9:47 PM


Make no mistake -- there IS such a thing as national security, and those who threaten it must be stopped by any state desirous of self-preservation. This may sometimes lead states down a path that most of us would consider immoral or at least amoral, but states are not moral institutions (a fact that some of the more religiously motivated supporters of Israel may have to come to terms with sooner or later).

The thing that troubles me is the potential for the term "national security" to be used like a blanket by the Fed in the same way that it uses "interstate trade" -- a tool to enable it to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants. It could be argued that those who act to oppose the TSA, even by peaceful protest such as appearing in a bikini or stripping down in line without having been asked, threaten "national security" by distracting TSA agents from performing their jobs.

Of course he who makes the definitions wins the argument, but to my thinking "national security" should be limited to state integrity, and not expanded to include the self-perceived interests of the state. Someone collecting and distributing classified information about US troop movement during an invasion by a foreign power, for example, is CLEARLY a threat to national security. Someone doing the same with information concerning officials' opinions about China's role in the Koreas, not so much. Expanding "national security" to include interference with self-perceived state INTERESTS is, in my opinion, a big mistake with far-reaching consequences that those who call themselves conservatives should think twice about.

By what definition of "national security" would the state be justified in assassinating Assange, that would not also open the door to state abuse of US citizenry?

December 4, 2010 4:09 AM

This is where the all-but-forgotten distinction between American citizens, noncitizens legally present in America, and everyone else is so vitally important. If Americans and our leaders were properly aware of the implications of this status, correctly dealing with these sort of problems would be far easier and much safer, particularly in these days of war-without-a-proper-declaration.

As far as keeping a rein on our secret police, there is a Congressional committee consisting of Congressmen with top security clearances who are supposed to be told about cloak-and-dagger operations, so they can say "No!" if need be. This is right and proper as they are the people's representatives and it's a lot easier to keep a secret among a few dozen than among the entire nation as a whole. This system isn't working too well because too many Congressmen are (in our opinion) somewhat treasonous, but that's not the problem of the system, it's the problem of bad men being put into office which nothing can fix other than improved replacements.

December 4, 2010 9:13 AM

Your answer amounts to, "We need to trust our government officials, even though we know that we can't."

This from the mouth of a "conservative".

Strange days indeed.

December 4, 2010 9:35 AM

In response to that, I can only quote Winston Churchill:

"Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Do you have a better suggestion? Getting rid of the very concept of state secrets, or the ability to defend them by whatever means are necessary, is, I think, not helpful.

December 4, 2010 11:34 AM

Petrarch's last comment - and thanks for responding to readers! - is more or less exactly what I was going to say.

It's the best we've got.

No one feels happy about Black Ops teams shooting spies in the middle of the night. But what else is there?

A leading superpower with 300 million people inherently MUST have state secrets just to operate every day.

Those secrets have to be guarded. Someone has to oversee it. It's hard to oversee the overseers without exposing the secrets.


We unfortunately need a few Jack Bauer's now and then.

We try to keep the programs small and their power limited, but secret programs have to exist. Best thing I can suggest is that we have short terms limits so no one person on the secret Congressional committees has that power for more than few years.

December 4, 2010 11:48 AM

As I said, it is understood that there IS such a thing as national security. The state must defend itself or it will eventually cease to exist. While this can sometimes lead to morally questionable actions on the part of the state (and there are some Christians, such as the Christadelphians, who eschew all possible connections to the state partly because of this), it is a reality of statehood.

As a citizen of the US, however, I am concerned with limiting the power of what the state may do in the name of "national security", knowing that the term can be made to apply to almost anything. I do not see Assange's actions as being a significant threat to the existence of the state. In granting power to the state, we must be careful not to grant it any power that may one day be used against its citizens.

Again -- by what definition of "national security" may we justify the assassination of Assange that would not open the door to the abuse of American citizens?

If we accept the notion that a certain amount of government abuse on the citizenry is OK, then we have already lost.

Petrarch asks for a better suggestion. I suggest the US government focus its efforts on identifying and punishing the person who actually stole the information in the first place, to the full extent of the law.

December 4, 2010 12:46 PM

"In granting power to the state, we must be careful not to grant it any power that may one day be used against its citizens."

The above should be, "In granting power to the state, we must be careful not to grant it any power that may one day be abused." Citizens who really do threaten national security must of course be dealt with.

December 4, 2010 12:49 PM

We are in full agreement with you that the U.S. citizen who originally leaked the information should indeed be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in open court by a jury of his peers. If the government does its job, this should lead to conviction, and the death penalty is appropriate in major espionage cases.

That's for a U.S. citizen. Assange is not a U.S. citizen and thus is not entitled to the same level of protection and due process. To us, the difference between being a U.S. citizen and not being one is a very clear, bright, stark, unmistakable dividing line that serves precisely as the protection you're looking for.

"If we accept the notion that a certain amount of government abuse on the citizenry is OK, then we have already lost."

True. Assange is not a citizen; thus, your fear is entirely irrelevant to that particular question.

December 4, 2010 2:01 PM

It is interesting that you have again chosen to focus on Assange's lack of citizenship, and ignored for a second time my question about the definition of "national security".

It is not really Assange's citizenship that concerns me here. I get it -- he isn't a citizen, and we do not need to afford him the same rights as a citizen of the US.

However, the rationale for ordering his assassination would be of concern to US citizens if the words "national security" were used. Not because of his citizenship or lack thereof, but because we should all be interested in what limits our government has in defining and acting against what it defines as threats to "national security".

Assange today -- maybe a US citizen who wears a bikini into an airport tomorrow.

Again -- what is the definition of "national security" that would justify the US ordering the assassination of Assange, but would not leave the door open to the abuse of US citizens?

December 4, 2010 5:48 PM

>No one feels happy about Black Ops teams shooting spies in the middle of the night. But what else is there?

This one is easy to answer.

We can be an empire or we can be a constitutional republic. The former means an archipelago of some 800 military bases in 120 countries around the world, sponsorship of torture, kidnapping, "secret" undeclared wars, massive government secrecy and habitual lies as a way of life, zero privacy for the citizenry, "freedom fondles" at transportation check points, black ops teams to shoot "spies," and warrantless arrest and wiretapping of US citizens - in essence, pretty much either what we have now, or what is coming down the pike.

The latter means a return to the rule of law, true national defense, and the dismantling the national security state.

December 4, 2010 6:31 PM

Apparently not only is Mr Assange not a citizen he may not qualify for the Jeffersonian principles of "right to life liberty & pursuit of happiness"— of course some claim rights do not to apply to women & children either, nor to anyone who is not white, male and of age.
A more serious question is— like using vague terrorism as justification for maltreatment of prisoners— how far will politicians see any who disagrees as a threat to their interests? Being a citizen may no longer be a requirement for protection their insecurity and fears.
In which case their actions are immoral anyway, to say nothing of criminal.
I think it is best we halt this pernicious & inarguable notion that only citizens have rights– our own security is not worth using fear as a weapon, nor letting paranoid mountebanks act like thugs.

December 4, 2010 6:35 PM

"Our own security is not worth using fear as a weapon."

I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree with you more. Fear is a much more preferable weapon to using actual weapons - because nobody (or very few) die of fright. It's called deterrence and over the years it has saved countless lives.

"Nor letting paranoid mountebanks act like thugs."

Obviously not - but who is a thug and who a staunch defender of your nation? As George Orwell said, "Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."

December 4, 2010 8:09 PM

Interesting... I just watched the TED interview with Assange. He seems to be interested in exposing corruption and abuse of power more than anything else. It grows more difficult not to support him, at least in theory.

Here's another idea -- Assange could be easily foiled by simply not engaging in behavior that would draw the attention of whistleblowers.

December 4, 2010 9:19 PM

@werebat - you are COMPLETELY CORRECT that not doing what whistleblowers whistle about would work, but not doing those things is not conducive to gaining power. The people who do these things like power, and the only way to get power is to stomp on other people who want it as much as you do and and who are just as tricky.

Nice guys end up powerless. Don't you think these cables will be picked over by politics types who want to throw rocks at the next election?

December 4, 2010 9:48 PM

"Fear is a much more preferable weapon to using actual weapons - because nobody (or very few) die of fright. It's called deterrence and over the years it has saved countless lives."


Absolutely correct.

December 5, 2010 8:41 AM


You reinforce the Christadelphian - what they would call the CHRISTIAN - position that TRUE Christians would never touch politics because of its corrupting influence.

If things like honesty, honor, and concern for others (not just fellow citizens) must go out the window in order for one to survive in the political arena, what other conclusions are left to come to?

As for "nice guys" ending up powerless, again, he who makes the definitions wins the argument. Are you seriously suggesting that those who do not lie, wheedle, and cheat end up powerless? Do you think this is the official position of the religious right?

December 5, 2010 9:03 AM

One of the Times' columnists has a realistic red on the leaks:

The Big American Leak
There is a sobering message somewhere between the lines of those WikiLeaks cables: America is leaking power.

December 5, 2010 12:26 PM

There will not be another such time as present to call for a full investigation of Wikileaks and it's owner into the most serious security breech conducted by the Attorney Generals Office, the CIA, the FBI, the IRS and Scotland Yard. I mean serious prison time or in the event of treason, death.

This matter must be conducted by agencies that know what they are doing because it is unknown what an investigation will reveal. I would not care to see a committee of our current elected officials attempt such an undertaking. They do not have the foresight, experience or know how to get the job done. An investigation would be in the realm of kick a__ and off to jail we go.

Such an investigation would go a very long way in re-establishing our credibility as leader of the free world, or, be a vehicle for our continuing down hill slide.

We need some of the other large Activists office to join us in such matters so as to show the voters and Washington we will not be pushed around or denied our purpose. Our government is not going to do it, we must.

Please let me know what you think.

Respectfully submitted,

Fred Strickland
Fayetteville, GA 30214

December 5, 2010 7:40 PM

The security breach as it were is caused by a federal employee.. you expect another fed to be impartial?
And considering the exposure of the fraud and violent methods already inherent in the government agencies, to say nothing of the dissembling done by politicians, why would you expect anything close to the truth to emanate: we citizens, of course, would never know the results anyway:— we're too dangerous, and must be kept ignorant.. for our own security of course.
And that truth is evident in those who would apologise for the criminal nature of government agents, and who would wish their subterfuges remain in the black hole: the State is never wrong, and must be protected at all costs.

December 5, 2010 10:58 PM

@ Moxy

If you realy think that we should take the teeth out of our intel. agencys overseas because of some sickly soft ideological fantasy of yours, you can go ahed and think that. I on the other hand, dont live in an imaginary utopian land where everybody loves eachother and you better beleive that if our defences were this soft durring the cold war, you and I wouldnt be here.

December 8, 2010 8:08 AM

Anytime the State security is more important than that of any individual, we have tyranny: because the "State" is nothing less than several individuals who will force their will upon us:
I don't expect anyone to love me dysfunctionally; I don't care unless they share my values.
And you do not: East Germany was an example of the State being numero uno; so is any dictatorship: enjoy your privacy there, if you will, for you would indeed be one the the Party.
And yes I served in the Cold War, and I speak Russian better than you do English.

December 8, 2010 4:16 PM

Do you remember just a short time ago, people (and a certain pundit) saying that Barak Obama "isn't MY president"? A corollary to this position might be "a government that tortures, lies, assassinates - in short, which is antithetical to MY Constitution,is not MY government". Damn the torpedoes,the infection must be sterilized.

December 8, 2010 8:33 PM

@Mr Lutz.. you must not be a Republican.. careful: justifying torture in the name of state security, to say nothing of deception to us citizens is paramount to their bankrupt moral code

December 8, 2010 11:10 PM

@ Moxy

Moxy, you dont even know what tourture is. If it was to protect my country, I would torture any enemy combatant under the sun. And dont even give me that "it will come home, they will torture US citizens" B.S. This is why we need to start electing canidates that we can trust, so that we can use every tool available to fight our enemys without suspect of those tools being used against us. Tourture is for OUTSIDE the US, and it should be used responsably and effectively. If we had gone into Iraq/Afghanistan without our hands tied behind our back, we would have been out by now (not that I even supported Iraq in the first place). That goes for rules of engagement too, you can not hesitate to kill in a life or death situation. It sounds ugly and callus but it is what it is.

December 9, 2010 7:55 AM

I agree w/ you about "rules of engagement" .. Amerika used to be a country where we defended ourselves using a clean death, and brought to trial those who used torture and sadistic methods of treatment, like Nüremberg. Now we're the ones who enjoy the effects of a pained & panic riddled mouth uttering delusions, and calling that enhanced interrogation.
Oh well: the fantasies politicians and their statist advocates enjoy— look at the last crop of "progressives", or neo-cons before them— not only lack a moral premise known as respect for life & liberty, but feed upon themselves so that any semblance to sanity is forgotten. Try reading the "health care bill", page 1632 for example.
That Mr Assange has found informers on the arrogance in our government is to be applauded: that the leakers are technically guilty is irrelevant: yes, we do need to know this, and "need to know" is the basis for a rational system of secrecy.
If you don't want to know, avert your eyes. But be happy you can—
The thought police are here; they don't need a warrant anymore, for the State is threatened...

December 9, 2010 9:29 AM

@ Moxy

You are absolutely right (glad we agree on something) untill it comes to "Assange has found informers on the arrogance in our government is to be applauded". While I do agree we have an arogant govenment, you are completely missing the point that it is comepletely irrelevant weather he is a hero or a traitor. The real forces at work here are for "net neutrality", better known as the next step toward a state controlled media. The ones in power right now have been waiting for the moment the internet would become a threat so that they could swoop in and look like the heros. Its a long con. They are playing a chess game, and checkmate is acheived when our freedom is gone.

December 10, 2010 11:52 AM

So the party on the right has found an ally in the party on the left-- we who are off the spectrum, valuing our liberty as our lives, are omitted in their struggle..
Thus it is: since my youth I never saw much difference between Conservatives & Liberals, especially in their desire to control, using a mystic revelation or amoral reductionism as their "logic", both totally inconsistent with their actions, both totally devastating in our freedoms.

December 10, 2010 11:44 PM
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