Wiki-Irony at the State Dept. -

Wiki-Irony at the State Dept.


PJ Crowley, State Department spokesman:

“…the United States is pleased to announce that we’ll host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day in 2011 from May 1 to May 3 here in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with a mandate to promote freedom of expression, and its corollary, freedom of the press. The theme for this commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. Obviously, we decided upon this before the latest round of news.

“The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. There certainly is an irony here. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to the exercise of freedom of – for the right of freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor or silence individuals and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.”

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Wiki-Irony at the State Dept.

  1. And they did it with a straight face too.

    Course when they got to the back room…..

    • Yeah, you can donate to the KKK or an anti-gay group, buy porn and gamble online with a credit card….but you can't send money to Wikileaks.

  2. There have been no charges filed against Assange regarding the leaked documents (yet), so I do not really see the irony. There is no contradiction in supporting press freedom around the world and publicly saying you condemn the release of the documents.

    Now, if he's ever charged under the US Espionage Act, that might be a different story. But even then, it would be the Department of Justice that charges him, not the State Department.

    Jailing a journalist is a violation of press freedom. Saying that you do not like what a journalist does is not a violation of press freedom.

    • What about the denial of service attacks on their sites? is that a violation of press freedom? Seems to me it is when China does it. Or are we pretending the US has nothing to do with that?

      • I'm sure the government's not totally innocent in the DOS attacks, but the internet (as a community) did turn against Wikileaks something fierce recently, so to my mind it's at least conceivable that the DOS attacks are largely hackers doing what hackers do, as opposed to some government initiated attack.

        If we can show that, say, the CIA is responsible for the DOS attacks then yes, that would arguably be an example of a violation of press freedom. If it's just a bunch of private citizens though, not so much. To my mind, frankly, Wikileaks is being hounded off the internet every time they turn around with an efficiency that the U.S. government could just never achieve.

        • The internet community is mainly on wikileaks side. A few large businesses were leaned on to make it harder to function, but the community realizes that information wants to be free.

          • I'd say the internet has actually gone back and forth on this one. Hackers were attacking Wikileaks before they started attacking MasterCard (and while I'm sure some governments might be trying some attacks, I'm pretty sure it's mostly hackers being hackers that causing most of their problems in terms of DDOS attacks). There are definitely varied opinions in the online community, and I do agree that the tide has recently turned very much in favour of Wikileaks again, but in the early days of the story plenty of people were attacking Wikileaks for what they did, and it was WikiLeaks, not her opponents who were being DDOS'd off the internet. Amazon didn't pull them because of POLITICAL pressure so much as TECHNOLOGICAL pressure, and their inability to deal with all of the attacks (plus, the bad press of it all of course). Right around the time Jimmy Wales slammed WikiLeaks the tide of the community was pretty much anti-WikiLeaks. Then, governments around the world arguably grossly overreacted, and the pendulum swung back again.

            Anyway, I do agree that the internet is largely on WL's side now, but it was not ever thus, and the tide could turn again if they actually do a total dump as they've threatened to do in the past. I'm not even sure the tide of opinion would be so favourable for WL right now if the media outlets that they leaked the docs to weren't taking it upon themselves to censor what they release in order to help to keep people safe.

      • Do you have evidence that the State Department was the source of the DoS attacks?

        • No one said they were. Are you volunteering the information?

        • Evidence. Let's make that call at both ends of the court then, okay?

    • 'Now, if he's ever charged under the US Espionage Act, that might be a different story. But even then, it would be the Department of Justice that charges him, not the State Department'

      Why would Assange be charged under this act, he's not a US citizen?

      • Nor has he broken any laws.

      • You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to be charged with espionage. In fact, aren't most people who are spying on the U.S. not U.S. citizen? Assange can't be charged with TREASON because he's not a U.S. citizen, but it seems to me that the Espionage Act is probably used more often against non-citizens than it is against citizens.

        • US laws are only valid in the US. They don't apply elsewhere in the world.

          • In one sense that is of course true, but if you steal U.S. government property for example, you're probably going to be extradited back to the U.S. to face trial from most countries you could find yourself in.

            If the U.S. actually charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act I'm not certain there are a lot of countries out there that would refuse to extradite him.

          • There was an American commentator somewhere today who said most countries make an exception to extradition for political reasons, so it was unlikely that Assange could be extradited to the US from Britain. However, he did not mention whether Sweden has such an exception, and I wonder if the Swedish charges were trumped up so the US could extradite Assange from Sweden.

          • What if the "political reasons" behind, say, the U.K.'s consideration of a hypothetical extradition request is "the British want him thrown in jail too"? As I said, my assumption is that most countries would be THRILLED to hand Assange over to the Americans at this point, if the Americans requested it.

            I don't think the Swedish charges were trumped up to allow the U.S. to extradite him from Sweden, since the U.S. can't, to my knowledge, extradite him from ANYWHERE until they charge him with something. If anything, the rape charges presumably make extradition from Sweden MORE complicated, as Sweden will no doubt hold off on any extradition requests until the Swedish case is dealt with.

            If one is going to assume that the Swedish charges are a tactic towards some larger gambit (as opposed to just being legitimate charges) I would have presumed that said gambit would have been to simply flush Assange out of hiding. Up until his recent arrest he was only giving interviews online, and I'm not sure anyone actually knew where he was.

  3. Of course the notion of a corresponding responsibility, that comes with every right and freedom, utterly escapes today's left.

    I am free to speak my mind in a crowded theater, but yelling "fire" would be deplorable.

    We are free to discuss and disseminate information on the internet, but to knowingly give out information that endangers lives, is equally deplorable.

    Kahdre, the convicted terrorist,
    Taliban prisoners,

    That's quite the list of deplorable figures the "progressives" around here have championed over the past year.

    • I'm going to "champion" Khadr by suggesting that after all of this time you ought to know how to spell his name.

    • How about yelling "fire" when the theater is actually burning? Is that deplorable or should we just keep our mouths shut and watch the fiction shown on the screen?

    • Don't the governments of countries generally support domestic companies who do business abroad like this all the time?

      • There's a preferred way of doing "business" in Russia. But you'd have to read
        the Wiki cables on Russia to parse that.

        • Sure, but isn't that even MORE of a reason why it's appropriate for the U.S. to lobby Russian officials to make sure that U.S. companies aren't screwed over by the "Russian way" of doing business?

          • Only if we accept as appropriate that the US foreign policy (and that of others) is
            consistently in support of corporate interests. Given the history of Central and
            South America, Africa, anywhere really, that support has taken different forms.

  4. Here is an article explaining the real mission of the Department of State:

    Apparently, many of the cables released by WikiLeaks show that State should be in the business of tabloid journalism rather than diplomacy.