I was doing some house-cleaning on my computer and various online accounts, and I found a little gem which I’d like to share. This is a message which I sent off to the State of Washington Attorney General on 14.12.2010. No, not this Rob McKenna, the other one.
Dear Mr McKenna,
As you are probably aware, WikiLeaks — the not-for-profit whistleblower media organisation — and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange have together created an enormous degree of turmoil in the world, and the United States.
What is your stance on this matter?
Thank you for your time,
My tone was purposefully neutral, because I wanted to see how the AG would react. It is a well-established trait, that people will ‘read’ their own opinions into a suitably receptive text. The plan worked swimmingly. Mr McKenna bit, hook line and sinker.
Dear Mr. McInnes,
I received your email of December 14 regarding the WikiLeaks release of thousands of sensitive United States diplomatic documents. This release poses a serious threat to our country’s foreign policy interests and could significantly impact our alliances and collaborative relationships in the international community. I am pleased that President Obama has ordered a complete criminal investigation of this matter, as well as a broad review of the guidelines for handling classified information. I understand that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also ordered new security measures to protect against this type of security breach in the future.
I would also encourage you to contact your Congressional representatives to let your concerns be known, since this is a federal issue outside of the State Attorney General’s jurisdiction. You can find contact information at [redacted because I don't care]. Simply enter your address and click the button for “Congressional” for “District Type.”
Thank you for contacting the Attorney General’s Office.
Now, in backhanded fairness, this is before the news broke that Pfc Bradley Manning is being tortured. Still, it’s an insight into an unsubtle mind. Mr McKenna is in the “WikiLeaks is illegal, let’s find out how!” camp, in line with Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and my delightful Senators, amongst others. His opinion is representative of the majority of state and federal officials, although his frankness assures him of never rising above the level of state politics.
Compare Mr McKenna’s relatively straight-forward language to the slimy non-committal blather of these other government officials, when asked the same question, via emails sent on the same day.
Senator Maria Cantwell, 21.01.2011:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the publication of classified Afghanistan war documents by the website WikiLeaks. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.
As you may know, the website WikiLeaks published over 70,000 classified documents relating to the ongoing war in Afghanistan on July 25th and are currently reviewing an additional 15,000 that they are expected to release soon. I am a strong defender of the First Amendment and the freedom of the press; however, we must ensure that the release of these documents does not in any way pose a threat to our brave men and women currently fighting in Afghanistan. Please know that I am monitoring this situation and will keep your thoughts in mind should any legislation come before the United States Senate.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at [redacted for my sense of self-worth]. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
Senator Patty Murray, 07.02.2011:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent activities by the WikiLeaks Website. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
As you may know, WikiLeaks is an online organization that characterizes itself as a whistle blower and disclosure Website. WikiLeaks has released numerous documents, most recently publishing classified documents and diplomatic cables.
As a U.S. Senator, I am supportive of efforts to responsibly cast light on inappropriate and illegal behavior by government or corporate entities. Our democracy is made stronger by having individuals report improper behavior or practices that they see to the proper authorities. I am, however, troubled by the indiscriminate release of certain sensitive and classified documents by WikiLeaks. For example, despite pleas and warnings to withhold the names of Afghan translators and assistants, WikiLeaks chose to release that information and put the lives of service members of the United States and our allies at risk. Instead of helping our democracy by casting light on improper behavior, this action puts our country more at risk for threats and violence in the future.
Please know that as the Senate considers issues related to WikiLeaks, I will keep your concerns in mind. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly updates at [redacted for my sanity].
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
I don’t know about you, but they don’t have my vote just based upon mealy-mouthed non-opinions. WikiLeaks is the biggest revelations in the history of diplomacy; the least ‘my’ very slimy senators could do is actually take a stand. History treats winners with grandiose worship , losers with bemused condescension, and waffling wannabe populists with a footnote of contempt.
To paraphrase Martin Luthor, if you are to come down on the wrong side of history, do so boldly.
Moving on from those two, I’d like to pass along the responses of two Representatives, the last one being ‘my’ Representative, the embalmed toad himself.
Representative Jay Inslee, 07.02.2011:
Thank you for contacting me regarding leaks of classified information. I appreciate hearing from you.
Like you, I am concerned whenever sensitive or classified information that may compromise our national security is leaked to the public. Regarding the information published by the Wikileaks organization, the Obama Administration is prosecuting multiple parties involved in the leak of over 70,000 pages of information related to U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Pfc. Bradley Manning has been arrested and charged with unauthorized disclosure of classified information and the Wikileaks organization is being charged with encouraging Pfc. Manning to break the law. I will keep your thoughts in mind as the judicial process moves forward.
Please continue to contact me about the issues that concern you, as I both need and welcome your thoughts and ideas. Because security measures in the House cause delays in receiving postal mail, I encourage you to contact me by telephone, by fax, or through my website at [redacted to preserve my immortal soul]. For more information on my activities in Congress, and for information on services that my office can provide, please visit my website at [why god why did he have to give it twice?].
Representative Norm Dicks, 14.12.2010:
Thank you for providing your views on the recently released diplomatic cables of the U.S. State Department from the website Wikileaks. I appreciate hearing from you.
During more than 30 years in Congress I have had the opportunity to hear from my constituents on matters that concern them. It is because my constituents share these concerns that I am able to carry out the duties for which I am elected. I am very proud to be your Representative from the Sixth District of Washington State.
I understand the concerns you mentioned. I value the Freedom of Speech that is enabled and protected by our Constitution and will do my utmost to ensure that the ability of individual citizens to exercise that right is kept sacrosanct. However, the disclosure of unauthorized, classified information is a violation of our country’s laws and a danger to our national security.
Be assured I will keep your comments in mind as the 112th Congress holds hearings and meets with senior military leaders. Please feel free to contact me on any further issues of concern to you.
The eerie similarity of all these responses does nothing to comfort me, whilst I worry about whether or not ‘my’ government is actually listening to me. All these esteemed politicians, with their handsome salaries and probably oversized staffs, leapt to the conclusion I had given them my “thoughts” or “comments”. Obviously I hadn’t: if it weren’t for my pro-WikiLeaks axe-grinding all across this blog, I would be willing to bet a person would read my message according to their own feelings about WikiLeaks. They were all only seeing what they wanted to see, which is obviously that WikiLeaks is very, very naughty, and I thought so, too.
An arch, but fair, reply to that would be ‘what did you expect?’ To repeat, if you are to come down on the side of history, at least do so boldly. History loves a glorious, outspoken idiot almost as much as it loves a successful general, after all.
This I think can be tied into what I wrote about in this post. To summarise quickly, Pandora’s Box (aka Barrgate, HBGary emails, et cetera) shows that the US government is living in an alternate reality, wherein the USG is ahead of every trend and successfully managing every emergent ‘threat’ before it even coalesces. This is, as I argued, complete hogwash, but that does not stop the government and its incestuous corporate snuggle-buddies from absolutely believing all that is true.
A similar situation, I posit, is ongoing with WikiLeaks. That is the only reason why really strong stances aren’t being taken by these members of Congress. Yes, aggressive actions have been taken against WikiLeaks, but much to Sarah Palin’s chagrin, the USG is not, in fact, hunting down WikiLeaks like a terrorist organisation. Considering the USG is perfectly happy to invade countries based upon ‘evidence’ manufactured to legitimise the occasion, if WikiLeaks had been seen as a real threat, it would have received an airstrike.
So, I would suggest that WikiLeaks isn’t a big deal, as far as the US government is concerned. The institution literally does not see how WikiLeaks has already ensured the demise of the US government. Presumably this is why HBGary, along with partners Hunton & Williams, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies all conspired to create a plan to deal with ‘the WikiLeaks threat’. The slightly less stupid section of the USG/corporate complex, represented conveniently by HBGary, had a funny feeling that something might be wrong somehow, and that WikiLeaks was definitely the crux of the matter.
Too little, too late. It does not matter whether or not these people are aware of history being in the making, nor that they will not be the lauded party. The events have already been set in motion, and there is nothing which can be done to stop what has begun: WikiLeaks is more than just releasing dribs and drabs of inconvenient or ‘sensitive’ information. It has already revolutionised the information world, because the idea of WikiLeaks can never be de-invented. Not understanding and respecting that simple fact dooms those people and organisations to coming down on the wrong side of history.
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