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Campus Media Response: WikiLeaks and the New Face of Nihilism

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cmrwikileaks.jpgIn an incisive piece in MIT’s The Tech, Keith Yost writes the following regarding the recent WikiLeaks scandal, in which tens of thousands of stolen classified American military and diplomatic documents were released on the Internet by the website’s operator, Julian Assange:

As he hides behind this reasoning, Assange has released the Social Security numbers of U.S. military personnel, opening them up to identity theft. He has revealed the names of Afghan civilians who collaborate with U.S. forces, a move that was greeted with joy by Taliban commanders, who quickly promised to hunt down and execute those named. He has betrayed the identities of human rights activists and journalists who, at great risk to themselves, passed information on their conditions to U.S. diplomats. In discussing one source, a diplomat pleads: “Please Protect,” and for good reason — with the informant’s identity now known, there is a serious risk that this the poor woman who trusted the United States will be whisked off to prison or worse.

Mr. Assange and his conspirators tell us they are part of a “New Journalism,” unmotivated by profit or partisanship (never mind their past attempts to auction off their finds or the unabashed ideological spin that accompanies their leaks). But the truth is that their motivation is as old as time itself; like small children playing with fires, fascinated with their own power to destroy, Assange and company are setting the world aflame merely to watch it burn. They are not crusaders for a better society. They are nihilists. They are anarchists. And they are enemies of the United States.

Yost is right. Some young people today are celebrating Julian Assange as a rebel who is bravely crusading against authoritarian institutions. In the past, WikiLeaks may have uncovered corrupt government practices worthy of public scrutiny. But Yost makes clear that the most recent revelations serve no positive purpose. Assange’s blasé indifference to the safety and lives of American servicemen and the Iraqi and Afghan citizens who support them gives the lie to the claim that he is motivated by a passion for peace and freedom.

Read the rest of Yost’s article for more about why we should condemn this act as destruction for the sake of destruction and what the Obama administration should do about this dangerous violation of American security interests.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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Cross-posted from the multi-author UnderCurrent feed

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So when the government commits criminal and immoral acts, its the fact that they are revealed which is “destruction” and “purposeless,” and not the fact that they are being committed?

1. Revealing lies and crimes committed by the government and held as secret is not “no purpose” and

2. revealing them is not “destruction for the sake of destruction.” Committing them is destruction for the sake of power-lust.

3. Revealing crimes committed by the US government or its agents (under the euphemism of “State secrets”) does not hurt American interests, or endanger American lives, rather committing those crimes in the first place does.

4. Assange does not reveal anyone's names, as has been refuted already. The newspapers are the ones who take responsibility for publishing the information and redacting the names mentioned therein or not. The US should not send its soldiers to war for non-objective reasons, thereby putting the soldiers on the altar of sacrifice in the first place.

5. Destroying Wikileaks will not reduce the danger to which Americans and American interests are exposed. Silencing the whistleblowers does not make the crimes disappear from anywhere except public knowledge. The fact remains that these crimes still happened and will continue. Burying your head in the sand will not make America safer, it will not end statism or help the cause of liberty, and it is treason to the values of the Founders. Blindly supporting the US military or lashing out at every opponent of war simply because they oppose the particular war the US is engaged in is not what the Founders would have wanted and it is not the way to give justice to the philosophy of reason and individual rights.

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This thing is full of so much disinformation it is not even funny. Further, I cannot successfully google search these details about social security numbers etc. If someone could help me find these (on a reputable website) I would appreciate it as I would like to know if this is true. If you want a half way decent argument against wikileaks (that is factual and easily verifiable in its content) they are out there. This is not one of them, and anyone that has been keeping a close eye on the information coming out about wikileaks is aware of that.

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The biggest revelation to date is this: When pushed, the US government will behave no differently from any tin-pot dictatorship in the lengths to which it will go to cover up its wrongdoings from the people it ostensibly exists to serve. The illusion that US citizens enjoy freedom of speech or anything resembling government transparency, indeed the very notion that we live under a "government of the people", has been busted wide open.

Assange: "We have clearly stated motives, but they are not antiwar motives. We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. And that is our sort of modus operandi... to get out suppressed information into the public"

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1245

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I see. The Tech is not a credible source, but Assange is? Hmmm...

Source is irrelevant unless the source has a history of putting out bullshit (Faux News for instance, is one where I will often doublecheck for the same story somewhere else). What should matter is 1. Is the content verifiable 2. Does the person have an agenda 3. Are their versions of the facts in line with the versions in other places. Tech does not get automatic credibility, nor should any source. I could be more sympathetic to the overall point of Yost's article if I could not only verify some of these serious claims, and if he wasn't, what I can only assume was done purposely (either way, if he wasn't aware of the actuality on this specific issue he probably shouldn't be writing about Wikileaks at all because he obviously has not kept close enough attention to whats going on with the organization), misrepresent what happened with the Afghanistan leaks. Like I said, there are other, better articles, for those that want to push a similar point as the author here. Every writer has an agenda: to persuade. That is often forgotten. I don't take anyones word on anything.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Yost is right. Some young people today are celebrating Julian Assange as a rebel who is bravely crusading against authoritarian institutions. In the past, WikiLeaks may have uncovered corrupt government practices worthy of public scrutiny. But Yost makes clear that the most recent revelations serve no positive purpose. Assange’s blasé indifference to the safety and lives of American servicemen and the Iraqi and Afghan citizens who support them gives the lie to the claim that he is motivated by a passion for peace and freedom.

Read the rest of Yost’s article for more about why we should condemn this act as destruction for the sake of destruction and what the Obama administration should do about this dangerous violation of American security interests.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted from the multi-author UnderCurrent feed

Not a bad article. And yes, Yost is right. Besides the overall destructive nature of Wikileaks, the whole goal of releasing documents for the sake of releasing documents, without any value judgment involved, smacks of nihilism. For Assange and his nihilistic stance, it must all boil down to 'perspective,' hence the governments of the world are lumped into one category of enemy, and the "US administration" is as equal a target to "bring down" as "those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia."

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Not a bad article. And yes, Yost is right. Besides the overall destructive nature of Wikileaks, the whole goal of releasing documents for the sake of releasing documents, without any value judgment involved, smacks of nihilism.

That statement is ridiculous to the point of being laughable. The end of releasing documents serves as the means for the wider end of transparency, which serves as the means for a wider end of accountability, which serves as the means for a wider end of helping to stay free, and so forth.

It has become quite clear that this line of argumentation and others that have been raised is nothing but plain dogmatic devotion to the US military qua US State and has nothing to do with patriotic devotion the values of the Founders.

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Um, really? And who refuted this? Whoever it is, they are reporting false information.

Let us get the facts straight. Julian Assange does not personally release anyone's names. The documents are uploaded to the Wikileaks website anonymously, Wikileaks gives them to newspapers, the newspapers redact them and publish them, then Wikileaks publishes what the newspapers publish. WikiLeaks has done very little other than publish the specific cables that have been first released by newspapers around the world, including with the redactions applied by those papers.

Wikileaks had originally appealed to the US ambassador in London, asking the US government to confidentially help him determine what needed to be redacted from the cables before they were publicly released, and the US government refused to give such guidance. Wikileaks then published only that information which the major world newspapers already released with their redactions to ensure innocent people's names would be withheld.

So if any name appears in these news reports (and by the way no, it is not a crime for the news media to reveal intelligence informants' names), it's not Julian Assange who is doing it and this person is not the “cause” of the “problem.” If the CIA assassinated him today and shut down his website, absolutely nothing would change except more of our freedom would be destroyed along with our ability to know what the government is doing and check its power.

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Let us get the facts straight.

Yes, lets do: Wikileaks, in their numerous mass releases of illegally acquired documents, have released the names of foreign local nationals working with US personnel and other information that could be damaging to an individual, foreign or not. Many major news outlets have, on their own, been routinely redacting information contained in these reports, while what is released by Wikileaks is simply the raw data, as is. So, whoever you say has refuted the fact that Assange has released such information, is, quite simply, full of shit. One can easily open up some of the data files that Assange has released and figure that out. However, I wouldn't recommend downloading or reading the documents.

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Yes, lets do: Wikileaks, in their numerous mass releases of illegally acquired documents, have released the names of foreign local nationals working with US personnel and other information that could be damaging to an individual, foreign or not. Many major news outlets have, on their own, been routinely redacting information contained in these reports, while what is released by Wikileaks is simply the raw data, as is. So, whoever you say has refuted the fact that Assange has released such information, is, quite simply, full of shit. One can easily open up some of the data files that Assange has released and figure that out. However, I wouldn't recommend downloading or reading the documents.

No, that is false and a lie. You and anyone else can easily find out that they have not engaged in "mass releases of illegally acquired documents" by simply going to the Wikileaks site to see that is not so, and anyone reading this can do so and will know that what you are posting isn't true. Anyone can log on right this second and casually see this. Right now on Wikileaks website, there are 1,824 cables released so far (out of about 250,000, less than 1% of them) and almost every one of them has first been published by a major newspaper including the redactions made by those newspapers, not "raw" or "as is."

You are uninformed because you have not bothered to do any cursory investigation of the facts, you are simply robotically repeating nonsense without question, and/or you are being purposely misleading. It is clear your criticism is motivated by dogmatism and not by any fact-oriented concerns, which reveals more about your state of mind than it does this Julian Assange guy and his supposed "nihilism."

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while what is released by Wikileaks is simply the raw data, as is

This is completely false. Every news source with a spoonful of reputation has in fact said the exact opposite, and it is also clear if you look at the information on the website ITSELF. This thread is going to go absolutely nowhere if you people are just going to keep spilling out fountains of crap because you don't feel like doing your job and researching it yourself. I am getting so tired of the fact that so many of these threads that could actually have some good discussion (and perhaps even change some peoples minds, on either side) are derailed by you people because everyone has to play Mr. http://lmgtfy.com/ because people are either too incompetent or too lazy to look things up themselves.

If you do not want to do your due diligence on the subject the discussion is based on then DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION. Because you are wasting the time of the people that know what is going on and want to have a real discussion about it to see what peoples thoughts on the different particulars of it are. This is the reason why so many people I know from this site no longer use or even read the forums. Because people keep pulling this kind of crap.

People just keep repeating blatantly untrue things (and, to no surprise, not provided evidence for any of their claims) and all that the forum thread ever turns into is 1. People arguing instead of real discussion and 2. Correcting the bs people just want to spew out with actual evidence, citations, sources, proving the opposite is in fact true so that , maybe, hopefully, the conversation can get back to something that actually isn't just a circle-jerk.

(Mods, if this post breaks the forum rules I apologize and please delete the post, it has not done this by my interpretation of the rules, and if this is the case please inform me of the correct interpretation so I do not make this mistake in the future)

As far as I myself am concerned anything in here after this without a link with PROOF of the claim (and, obviously, I mean other than this article, of which I still have not been able to find any more reports on this social security thing etc. and no one else has submitted it themselves after my request for others to do so) I will take it as false. I hope everyone else does the same. My god, how the hell is this a problem on an Objectivist forum of all places. I have seen better intellectual conduct on sites full of 12 year olds.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Here is something with some intellectual integrity for those that want to have a real discussion about this. They know their history regarding the relevant information on security, secrecy, classification etc. and have actually been keeping tabs on news regarding Wikileaks:

VIDEO: Gareth Porter, Investigative Journalist and Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst discuss Wikileaks. Very Informative. Especially with the backgrounds both of them had. Knew a lot of relevant information.

http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=5968

Here is a story by Time Magazine about the legal troubles of nailing Assange for the United States government:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2035994,00.html

Here is Julian Assange's last article, which was posted in the Australian news, before he handed himself over to police in the UK. This is so that you can see what his last main publication to people in general was, and his own arguments:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/dont-shoot-messenger-for-revealing-uncomfortable-truths/story-fn775xjq-1225967241332

For anyone that cares, here is a rundown, step by step, of what happened regarding the arrest of Assange, by the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-us-embassy-cables-live-updates

Here is the best interview I have seen thus far for Julian Assange (unless somoene finds a better one for us), its a TED Talk so its a quality interview, and good questions are asked:

Finally, here is a working mirror of the wikileaks website, so there can be no more misinformation about what the website has published and what it has not:

http://wikileaks.info/

I have only skipped through parts of that first video to get an idea of the content, so I don't know if they are taking opposing positions or if they agree on certain things or what, but it certainly is a discussion of higher caliber than what has gone on in here, so I personally think we should start over, starting with this video and the Time's link. I will be watching it tonight. This time with claims being supported by evidence, and with links to decent discussions/what have you on this subject.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Both of you are being truly ignorant, especially the one calling me a liar for stating the truth and the other for calling me lazy for not fulfilling my part of due diligence on this thread. For that, I didn't even bother to read the last post, as any semblance of 'due diligence' on the behalf of you two is seriously lacking. To question the fact of mass release of raw information on the part of Wikileaks is ridiculous and disturbing. As an example, they have released CVS files near 70mb in size, with over 65,000 entries--so don't try using 2003 excel if you want to see all of them--with many entries containing information that I have outlined in this and other threads. So, I'd suggest you two go ahead an fix yourselves, apply the allegations you've launched against me and others to yourselves, and then figure out why you are "robotically repeating nonsense" to defend Assange, due to whatever sort of love affair you have with the nihilist.

As for recommendations that people of the forum visit wikileaks, I suggest that people on the forum do not visit the site. Certain universities and departments have already warned their students and employees not to visit the sites; the DoD has warned their employees as well and blocked sites from access on their different networks. The warning shouldn't be taken too lightly: it is easy to understand how the ability of someone to handle official or classified documents could be called into question if they are speaking about the contents of wikileaks in any significant matter or even if they are simply reading the information, of which they have no right of access to.

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