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Some WikiLeaks Contributions To Public Discourse 299

Posted by kdawson
from the greatest-hits-of-cablegate dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The EFF argues that regardless of the heated debate over the propriety of the actions of WikiLeaks, some of the cables have contributed significantly to public and political conversations around the world. The Guardian reported on a cable describing an incident in Afghanistan in which employees of DynCorp, a US military contractor, hired a 'dancing boy,' an under-aged boy dressed as a woman, who dances for a gathering of men and is then prostituted — an incident that contributed important information to the debate over the use of private military contractors. A cable released by WikiLeaks showed that Pfizer allegedly sought to blackmail a Nigerian regulator to stop a lawsuit against drug trials on children. A WikiLeaks revelation that the United States used bullying tactics to attempt to push Spain into adopting copyright laws even more stringent than those in the US came just in time to save Spain from the kind of misguided copyright laws that cripple innovation and facilitate online censorship. An article by the NY Times analyzed cables released which indicated the US is having difficulties in fulfilling Obama's promise to close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and is now considering incentives in return for other countries accepting detainees, including a one-on-one meeting with Obama or assistance with the IMF. 'These examples make clear that WikiLeaks has brought much-needed light to government operations and private actions,' writes Rainey Reitman, 'which, while veiled in secrecy, profoundly affect the lives of people around the world and can play an important role in a democracy that chooses its leaders.'"
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Some WikiLeaks Contributions To Public Discourse

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  • 'Cause leaking is always double-plus good.

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:14PM (#34825530)

      You mean where a politician that we like was privately urging other countries to keep sanctions in place to the detriment of his countries poor in the hope of putting pressure on his political rival while publicly denouncing those same sanctions?

      It is absolutely a double edged sword since 2-faced people we like can be exposed lying just like people we don't like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jeff4747 (256583)

        Just keep conveniently forgetting that his "political rival" happens to be a dictator that exemplifies all the bad connotations of that word.

        But now that reformers have been handed a big setback, I'm sure the reincarnation of Jefferson will magically appear in Zimbabwe, and you'll have a politician there who measures up to your standards.

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:43PM (#34825924)

          Just keep conveniently forgetting that his "political rival" happens to be a dictator that exemplifies all the bad connotations of that word.

          What makes you think the other guy isn't? The West has a long history of supporting the 'other guy' because they can't be worse than what they have... only to discover that actually, they are.

          Mao, for example, would have been wiped out by the Chinese Nationalists if the US government hadn't prevented them from doing so because they felt the Nationalists were corrupt.

          • by Restil (31903) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:40PM (#34828602) Homepage

            Of course, history is full of perfectly good examples where we teamed up with one bad guy to help defeat a worse (or sometimes not) bad guy. Stalin was more of a sadistic mass murderer than Hitler was, by some accounts, and political fallout from that arrangement led to 40 years of itchy fingers on big red buttons and bouncing all over the world getting our troops (involuntarily) involved in one war after another, which led to us giving aid and support to the same people and groups that we're fighting an all-out war with today. The hindsight is obvious of course. We can see everywhere we went wrong. But then again, what if we ventured another way. What if we just re-armed after Pearl Harbor and kept an eye out for future Japanese attacks? What if we just wished England the best of luck and closed our borders. We might have avoided all of the cold war and all of the fallout from it. Maybe Hitler and Stalin would have just wiped each other out and left the rest of the world in Peace. Maybe... but I doubt it.

            But just think.. the whole Israel vs the rest of the middle east thing could have been avoided. All the jews would be dead. Europe would still have a single currency and government run healthcare, that nobody would ever complain about. No Vietnam, no hippies, no cheap TV sets and cars, ALL of our oil would be drilled domestically, because the rest of the world would hate us, for entirely different reasons than they claim to hate us today. The world would never know nuclear war... at least not until someone else discovered it and decided to use our country as a testing ground. Probably no space program, no gps, no satellite TV, no google maps... probably no Internet at all, since most of these things came about as a fringe benefit of the various military engagements we were involved in.

            In the end, history is just that. History. You can't change it, and even if you could, you might not want to. You're better off just learning from it, and attempting to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

            -Restil

          • by Peeteriz (821290)

            The current Iran regime is in place only because USA had issues with previous one. If they don't like this Iran - well, if they still have the receipts, they can go back to the store and ask for a refund.

        • by Chyeld (713439)

          People like to pretend that using others is justifiable if the people being used are at least marginally better than where they started. Unfortunately, that's simply not true, especially since if the people being used weren't being manipulated to support another crappy situation that is only 'better' in respect to looking at the rock bottom, they might just have been willing to fight longer and harder for a solution more beneficial to themselves.

      • by aeoo (568706)

        It is absolutely a double edged sword since 2-faced people we like can be exposed lying just like people we don't like.

        I don't get it. How is this a double-edged sword again? Seems like a win-win. I want to know that I like those people who truly deserve it. If someone exposes objectionable yet factual information to me about the people I like, I welcome it. Not to mention that I also have some capacity for forgiveness too, as I am sure do the others as well.

    • you mean (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unity100 (970058) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:14PM (#34825550) Homepage Journal
      the case of 'movement for democratic change', which is so very well named (just like the poisonous bills that come to u.s. congress, hint hint) that was trying to topple a ruthless dictator who did not cooperate with united states, and instead place someone else who would be amiable to angloamerican corporations' moves in zimbabwe ? the very thing that caused all american news channels to dedicate their entire fucking daytime broadcasts to zimbabwe, over the course of six months while it was being pushed ? showing randomly running zimbabweans and putting up 8 talking heads to discuss the 'situation' (what situation ? running around of zimbabweans) at this particular day, when they werent able to find anything worthy of reporting ? and in the meantime, doing that while all kinds of shit, from koreas to piracy in high seas to afghanistan and iraq was way too heated to not be reported, but, conveniently not reported, because the fucking 'lets put an american friendly puppet' play was in session in zimbwabwe ?

      yeah. THAT case. that zimbabwe. and on the other hand, uniformed, ignorant gullible fools like you. too easy to manipulate.
      • by jeff4747 (256583)

        Given the choice between a brutal dictator and a corrupt politician, I'll take the corrupt politician every time.

        • Re:you mean (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nagnamer (1046654) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:34PM (#34825816) Homepage

          I've seen both in my country. Not an easy choice, I'm afraid. Both fail you. With the first, it's at least obvious. The latter tend to last longer with potentially more degrading effect.

        • Re:you mean (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chyeld (713439) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dleyhc.> on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:46PM (#34825956)

          Given the choice between a brutal dictator or a corrupt politician who could just as easily become a brutal dictator were he in power, frankly I would choose to keep looking for the third option and stop creating a false dilemma [wikimedia.org].

        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          What's the difference?

          Both should leave the gene pool.

        • I would take neither at any time.

    • mugabe would be acting like mugabe no matter what. that he uses wikileaks as an excuse to abuse the opposition is just that: a convenient excuse

      it's as if you believe mugabe would be a nice decent fellow if wikileaks never came along. do you believe that?

      if no, don't blame wikileaks for what assholes do. blame the assholes!

  • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:12PM (#34825504)
    Is there a similar site [whatthefuc...esofar.com] for WikiLeaks?
  • I can point to some good stuff that has occurred as a result of wars. So let's keep having them.

    • by Abstrackt (609015) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:25PM (#34825700)

      That's the whole issue, isn't it? How can you objectively prove Wikileaks whether is good or bad for the average person? What's too much or too little transparency?

      One interesting side effect I've noticed is that regular news coverage appears to be better. I think Wikileaks has motivated a lot of investigative journalists to step up their game.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:19PM (#34825614)

    And such incidents are certainly despicable. But the powers that are probably do not think that this is a good idea. Does the US government want discussions about whether "private armies" are a good idea? Do they want Pfizer outed as a company that pressures third world countries into complying? Or that they bullied Spain into passing insane copyright laws?

    Sadly, the interests of the people and their governments are not the same. Which makes me wonder, wasn't there something about "by the people for the people"? If a government does not serve its alleged masters, as a democracy (or republic, for you nitpickers) claims to do, what good is it then?

    • by servognome (738846) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:02PM (#34826224)

      Sadly, the interests of the people and their governments are not the same.

      Sadly, the interests of the people are represented by government more than we want to admit. That's why many would prefer some things remain secret, so they can live fat and happy while convincing themselves nothing is wrong.

    • Does the US government want discussions about whether "private armies" are a good idea?

      If there were private armies, you'd have a point. But the forces in question aren't private armies (that is armies that answer to an authority other than the government), they're contracted security forces. The problem isn't their existence, it's inadequate training, supervision, and accountability.

      Sadly, the interests of the people and their governments are not the same.

      Sadly? Hell, I'd be frightened out of my

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:20PM (#34825620) Homepage

    Somebody actually reading the leaks before forming an opinion about them? Blasphemy!

    What's next, a slashdotter reading an article before posting? A Christian reading the bible...?

  • Re: Spain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kikito (971480) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:22PM (#34825652) Homepage

    The law wasn't approved in Spain because the opposing parties didn't support it, true, but that had little to do with wikileaks.

    Most Spanish politicians simply ignore the whole wikileaks deal; they don't mention it, publicly, at all. I think many of them don't even understand what wikileaks is (besides the most obvious effects of exposing some of their dirty clothes to the public)

    The lack of support happened because the opposing parties didn't get the benefits they wanted in other negotiations. It was a reprisal to the governing party, which proposed the law. It would have happened just the same without wikileaks.

    It was one of those occasions in which the egoistical interests of a few benefited the many. Which is funny and sad at the same time.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:25PM (#34825704) Homepage

    Is why Peter King, who has used [wikipedia.org] his position as a NY Congressman to aid the IRA, has not been denounced for his rank hypocrisy in calling for Assange to be prosecuted.

    If Assange can be extradited to the US, I say we should arrest King and offer him up for prosecution by an all-Protestant jury in Northern Ireland...

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:43PM (#34825926) Homepage

      The call for Assange to be prosecuted for something, anything, is the bipartisan consensus position in Washington. The conservative position is for Assange to be summarily executed. So poking fun at Peter King for hypocrisy may be fun and all, but it's not a great argument.

      Really, the reaction to Wikileaks has been so dramatic that I have to think that they have something really really damaging on somebody that they haven't released yet. And it has to be more damaging than evidence of war crimes, because when Dick Cheney proudly stated that he ordered waterboarding (which was a war crime when the US accused the Japanese of doing it) on national TV, not much happened.

      • Really, the reaction to Wikileaks has been so dramatic that I have to think that they have something really really damaging on somebody that they haven't released yet.

        Dramatic? Really? Apart from some tempests-in-a-teapot drummed up by attention whores (of which the summary above is a prime example), the reaction has mostly been non-existent. No governments have fallen. No politician has resigned. Nobody has been arrested, let alone arraigned. Etc... etc... Don't confuse internet karma whoring with r

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        A quote from a good (cynical and realistic) friend:

        "When all the politicians agree on something, be afraid. Be very afraid."

    • by migla (1099771)

      Is why Peter King, who has used [wikipedia.org] his position as a NY Congressman to aid the IRA, has not been denounced for his rank hypocrisy in calling for Assange to be prosecuted.

      If Assange can be extradited to the US, I say we should arrest King and offer him up for prosecution by an all-Protestant jury in Northern Ireland...

      No need for that. Just dump the terrorist in Guantanamo or some secret prison somewhere and throw away the key.

  • Should be a Murphy law regarding Wikileaks... no matter how bad the leaks looks so far, there will be always something worse about to be disclosed. And that without even touching banks, that was supposed to be the next target.

    With a bit of luck the illusion of "but we are the good ones" will become more evident with this.

  • "and can play an important role in a democracy that chooses its leaders." ...as opposed to a democracy which chooses out of a 2-party system the lesser of two evils.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:43PM (#34825914) Journal

    There are ways in democratic countries to change the law so that your goals are met. Meeting your goals by breaking the law is imposing your rule on the people. That makes you the dictator.

    • Ah yes, you see children when people who are unhappy with the government beak the law by doing things like spraying illegal protest graffiti on the walls they're actually being dictators because they're breaking the law. ... oh wait.
      that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.
      merely breaking the law in some way shape or form doesn't automatically make you the dictator.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:58PM (#34827184)
      Citation sorely needed. Wikileaks has not broken any laws. Pfc Manning did break some laws if he did what he's alleged to have done. But Wikileaks hasn't violated any laws and the case law on that is quite clear. Spreading the leaked information is protected by our 1st amendment. Despite Bush era beliefs to the contrary, the constitution applies to the US government no matter where it's operating.
  • I sure hope they're talking about a random soldier rank pv2 E1 whom happens to be named "Obama" not the much more famous guy at the tippy top peak of the military chain of command of the worlds largest most powerful military. You'd think the C-in-C might have enough power to take care of this without begging other countries for help?

    I'm not trying to debate right or wrong here, trying to focus on an utter lack of efficiency and competence. We're not talking about rewriting the worlds biggest most corrupt

  • by thue (121682) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:03PM (#34826240) Homepage

    Here in Denmark, the newspaper Politiken recently got access to all the documents. They found that which the (right-wing) government had publicly said that they would firm ask the US whether the US used Danish airspace for extraordinary rendition [wikipedia.org], the government privately told the US that they did not really want any answers.

    A good example of how WikiLeaks can expose governments acting against their citizens interest. It might not be in the US's interest to expose this, but it is certainly in my interest as a citizen.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:15PM (#34826442)

    The most serious of torture cases involve placing prisoners in the hands of other nations where the most radical tortures and deaths are applied with great frequency. We urgently need laws that forbid our government from transferring prisoners to other nations.
                For those that think it doesn't matter we already allow corporations to run prisons in the US and it isn't much of a reach to think that they might export a burgler from Brooklyn to Egypt for fun and games knowing that that convict will surely perish in custody.

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