13 July, 2010


A correspondent has sent me the following interesting story on Wikileaks, Julian Assange, IMMI and The TCI Journal:

A real free press for the first time in history

July 12th, 2010 Posted by Joel Gunter
Julian Assange, editor of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, has criticised mainstream media for not making proper use of “primary resources” and claimed that the site has created “a real free press (…) for the first time in history”.
Speaking at the Centre for Investigative Journalism Summer School at City University London on Friday, Assange accused the media of failing to consult important evidence in its reporting of a 2007 US Air Force strike that killed two Reuters news service employees and several Iraqi civilians
Julian Assange

The attack became infamous after a video of the event was leaked through Wikileaks, entitled Collateral Murder. The footage was recorded by one of two Apache helicopters involved in the attack.
Showing an alleged copy of the US Military’s 2007 rules of engagement hosted on Wikileaks, Assange said: “We had the raw ingredients you needed to decide right there. Why didn’t they use them?
“No one can be bothered to look up the term ‘positive identification’ to see what it actually is.”
Assange argues that it is clear from the document that the Apache pilot broke the rules of engagement. He said journalism needed to work towards making more primary source material such as this available online, arguing that this was the standard process for scientific investigations and that it should be the same for journalism.
You can’t publish a paper on physics without the full experimental data and results, that should be the standard in journalism.
You can’t do it in newspapers because there isn’t enough space, but now with the internet there is.
Last week, Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, who is accused of leaking the video along with tens of thousands of classified State Department cables, was charged by the U.S. Army with mishandling and transferring classified information. Assange will not attempt to enter the US for fear he might be subject to a subpoena.
Citing another of the site’s leaks, concerning Carribean tax haven the Turks and Caicos islands, Assange praised the anti-corruption reporting of online-only, local news outlet the Turks and Caicos Journal, which he said was hounded out of several countries after law firms threatened its internet service providers (ISPs).
Warning of a new “privatised censorship”, he said that the Journal’s Googlemail account had been subpoened under US law and that Google agreed to surrender details of the news outlet’s account, at which point Wikileaks stepped in to provide a defence attorney.
He heavily criticised the search engine company for its behaviour in the TCI Journal case, and challenged the actions of ISPs in India, Japan and the US for allegedly agreeing to cut the Journal’s internet access rather than risk incurring legal costs. According to Assange, Googlemail is a completely insecure way of storing information. He claimed that the Guardian had recently transferred all of its internal email over to the Google service.
Alongside the TCI Journal there was praise reserved for Time magazine for publishing an extensive investigation into the Church of Scientology and defending its investigation at a cost of millions dollars, but with potential costs so high, Assange asked, “what are the incentives for publishers?” Wikileaks were themselves threatened with legal action by the Church after publishing secret documents relating to its “Operating Thetan Level” practices. The whistleblowing site responded by saying “in response to the attempted suppression, Wikileaks will release several thousand additional pages of Scientology material next week.”
Asked about Wikileaks’ funding, he said the site has so far raised $1 million dollars in donations but revealed it had had an application for a $650,000 grant rejected by the 2009 Knight News Foundation, despite being “the highest-rated applicant out of 3,000″, and heavily implied it was a politically-motivated decision.
Earlier this year, Wikileaks put forward a proposal in conjunction with Icelandic MPs to create a safe-haven for publishers – and their servers – in the country. Last month the proposal, known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), was passed by parliament and will change Icelandic law, aiming to increase the protection afforded journalists, sources and leakers.
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  1. Note that Blogspot/Blogger/etc. is owned by Google. All your IP addresses are belong to U.S., in a manner of speaking.

    BTW, I'm not sure, but I think Mr. Assange was here on Anguilla once for the International Conference on Financial Cryptography, held in the now-denuded InterIsland Hotel, for four years at the height of the late 1990's dot-com bomb. If not, certainly lots of his cypherpunk friends were.

    Apropos of nothing, most of my old cypherpunk friends hate me now -- okay, hate me more -- because when I watched the video mostly I saw a breach of security for which someone should go to the the stockade instead of a breach of some crypto-commie's strange-loop rules of engagement, for which somebody else should go to The Hague.

    I saw a guy with a long tube, pointing it at at the good guys, with a request from same on the ground for the chopper in the sky to take him out, which was done. Result: Dead bad-guys, Game over, thanks for playing. Woops, it was a long telephoto. Drag, that.

    Since "journalists" these days *are* creatures of the state, including Wikipedia, who just got their own *law* passed in Iceland remember, and especially the "good" ones from Reuters who were killed in this incident, life is, as always, hard, and then you die sometimes. Especially if you go around looking like a bad guy in a free-fire zone.

    There. Instead of being cypherpunks apostate of the month, I'll be cypherpunks apostate of the year. Or maybe the decade.

    It's amazing how many formerly right-thinking libertarians and anarchocapitalists (see Mr. Assange, above) turn into mouth-breathing "transnational progressives" the minute a conservative is elected to the US Presidency, or, worse, when a now-demonstrably-mouth-breathing "transnational progressive" is elected to the US Presidency, for that matter.

    Good thing I have a hammock, a good breeze. and a nice veranda to hang it on, I suppose. Even better, it's a hammock in Anguilla, conveniently situated at the apex of the trans-Atlantic ballistic nuclear flyway, for all you bird-watchers out there. Or at least upwind of of any container-nuke in somebody's harbor somewhere. Or whatever.

    I figure I'm going to die (in my hammock of very old age, thank you very much) holding a Texas passport -- if any future Reconstituted Republic of Texas ends up doing birthright citizenship -- instead of the one I currently have from the US, a country which is currently trying very hard at the moment to go the way of the USSR.

    It's going to be a long century, y'all. Now where'd I put down that cold Lone-Star longneck, and would someone crank up the Toby Keith song about Willie Nelson?

  2. Read Afua Hirsch’s post on the topic in The Guardian newspaper by clicking here.

  3. Apparently the men in black are looking for Julian Assange: http://twitter.com/WeldPond/status/18769767048

    See also: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20010861-83.html by cypherpunk Declan McCullough, who was on Anguilla for Financial Cryptography in 2000.


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