Monday, 29 November 2010

Quote of the Day

"Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint."

Daniel Webster

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should."


"Restraint is a measure of intellectual acuity and self-control.
The ability to place thought before action."

Wes Fessler

"Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they
are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture,
bringing it down. It's happened many times in the past.
It could happen to us."

David Brin

"Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you
hurt someone - and hurt them to the bone - you can feel
self-righteous about it at the same time."

Dave Van Ronk

Taking the Wikileak

It is becoming difficult to decide if Wikileaks is, on balance, a force for the betterment of mankind - or the reverse.

I must admit that I was initially inclined to the former view, but of late I am somewhat reluctantly coming round to the latter.

Now I am naturally inclined to see something like Wikileaks as on the side of the angels, so that is really saying something. I have no doubt that if people discover incompetence wrongdoing or cover-up in the organisation they work for they should be able raise the matter and get it addressed internally - and if not to blow the whistle on it.

What has really pushed me into mentally classifying the Wikileaks site as a net disbenefit is the release of the US diplomatic communications.

There seems to be something irresponsibly, parochially naive about the mentality behind these releases the site have made, something self-congratulatory and it is an interesting choice of news organisations Julian Assange has chosen to share the greater details with.

One suspects it says something about his politics. Being suspicious, one wonders if any cash or quid-pro-quo is involved.

I find it difficult to imagine these releases of diplomatic information will not ultimately cost actual lives.

It may be Wikileaks is of the view you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs. There are a disturbing number of people who seem to take that view. I can’t help feeling It a bankrupt, lazy, way of thinking, from a site who’s’ only real justification is taking the moral high ground.

Apologists have argued that US Diplomats should be more careful about their cables.

This is disingenuous. Diplomats are there to smooth situations and argue a countries part... well diplomatically with foreign powers. They are also there to give their own government a warts and all accurate clear eyed view of things. To do less would be a disservice to their nation and make for improperly informed faulty decision making.

They must be brutally honest in their assessments with their own government – not ‘diplomatic’.

It is not even as if we don't all know such frank assesments are made in private, or as if we don't all know the value of tempering our public utterances, unless we are so socially inept for it to be classed as a 'condition'. The mere fact that such communications exist can hardly be cause to lay them bare. They may on the face of it seem two faced, but there needs to be some greater over-riding need.

To argue they should be more careful suggests either a flippant, possibly deliberate misunderstanding, or the sort of thinking that can justify stealing someone’s TV if they forget to lock their door when they go out.

To me it all seems uncomfortably like someone overhearing a husband and wife privately discussing a used car salesman, his merchandise and their available cash in the middle of making a deal – and then shouting it out to all and sundry including the staff in the car dealership. Basically a pretty scummy thing to do in those circumstances.

Politicians have denounced the site, some suggesting it be classed as a terrorist organisation. Intriguingly one of those particularly incensed is Representative Peter King (New York), possibly suffering from a serious case of double standards, is calling for Wikileaks to be designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization" and outlawed in the US.

A long supporter of the political wing of the IRA he might know a thing or two about “foreign terrorist organizations”...

On balance it is probably not a terrorist organisation. Although one fears there can be little doubt that some of the information they release will be of succour and assistance to terrorist organisations and powers unfriendly to the US.These latest releases seem more akin to spying than to terrorism. The documents were clearly stolen. Wikileaks will argue what they are doing is justified in the greater public interest.

It may have been true in the past. In this and in recent instances that is surely questionable. One wonders why no one has attempted to legally gag the site as might be a newspaper. One wonders if that is largely to avoid inflaming conspiracists imaginations.

Interestingly Wikileaks claimed to be under ‘cyber attack’ just prior to their releasing the information. A denial of service attack they claimed. This is where multiple botnet controlled computers are made to access a site in huge numbers. Assange seemed to imply the US might be behind the ‘attack’ attempting to ‘silence’ the site.

It all sounds most ‘conspiracy theory’ish until, if you have even half a brain, you realise there would have been massive worldwide interest in the site after they touted the so-called release. This would have resulted in huge numbers of people attempting to access the site, especially just before the information was published as they kept checking back – Still it helps pump Assange’s ego and publicity machine some more.

No deliberate ‘denial of service’ just overwhelming interest. Weirdly many media outlets uncritically pass the denial of service clams on unchallenged, don’t reporters have any understanding of the net?