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WikiLeaks & Government Secrets

Discussion in 'The OT' started by SayWhat?, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Dec 7, 2010 #61 of 142
    phrelin

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    We have a government with three primary "branches." IMHO after a period longer than six months, no piece of paper should be considered so "secret" that people can be imprisoned for releasing the information unless all three branches including both houses of Congress separately have signed off on classifying that piece of paper.
    Yep, we're going to have to move into the 21st Century. That may require us to quit spending money on 19th Century information technology. Maybe many branches of our government can join the FBI and skip the 20th Century. Step 1, eliminate two out of every three photocopiers and all multicopy forms. Step 2, have every federal office hire some 12-year-olds to help plan in 2011 for the use of tablets to be implemented by 2013 as opposed to 2043 which would be comparable to how well they did with personal computers which, in part, were not embraced because of institutionalized paranoia about "secrets."
    Relying on whistle blowing has a way of resulting in harm to Americans. I'm going to use the following examples because it is not clear that under the law anything "illegal" was going on that would provide a shield for a whistle blower and because these things don't really lend themselves to a rational moral defense, not that rational is a criteria for political debate these days.

    The Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began the study in 1932. Investigators enrolled in the study 399 impoverished African-American sharecroppers from Macon County, Ala., infected with syphilis. For participating in the study, the men were given free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. The story broke first in the Washington Star on July 25, 1972, forty years later. Americans came to harm.

    Project 112 was a biological and chemical weapons experimentation project conducted by the US Army from 1962 to 1973. The project started under John F. Kennedy's administration, and was authorized by his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, as part of a total review of the US military. The name of the project refers to its number in the review process. Every branch of the armed services contributed funding and staff to the project.

    Experiments were planned and conducted by the Deseret Test Center and Deseret Chemical Depot at Fort Douglas, Utah. They were designed to test the effects of biological weapons and chemical weapons on service personnel. They involved unknowing test subjects, and took place on land and at sea via tests conducted upon unwitting US Naval vessels. The existence of the project (along with the related Project SHAD) was categorically denied by the military until May 2000, nearly 40 years later, when a CBS Evening News investigative report produced dramatic revelations about the tests.

    Medical experiments have been conducted on a large scale on civilians who had not consented to participate. Often, these experiments took place in urban areas in order to test dispersion methods. A San Francisco test involved a U.S. Navy ship that sprayed Serratia marcescens from the bay; it traveled more than 30 miles. A dispersion test involved laboratory personnel disguised as passengers spraying harmless bacteria in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. A light bulb containing Bacillus globigii was dropped on New York City's subway system; the result was strong enough to affect people prone to illness (also known as Subway Experiment).

    Had there been a chance of a Wikileaks maybe some involved in the implementation of these situations would have decided against them.

    To paraphrase, when our government is allowed "to continue willy-nilly" doing whatever it wants without at least some threat of exposure Americans do come to harm. Keep in mind that I've listed things you ought to be able to easily relate to.

    It is my humble opinion that the frequently used "short sighted, zealotry" of the nationalistic kind, frequently hidden behind the screen of patriotism, is keeping Americans from asking the specific question "Which Americans have been harmed by Wikileaks to the extent the Tuskegee syphilis experiment harmed its subjects, American citizens all?"

    The answer cannot be found in people who are embarrassed or in the fact that the government will have to create a 21st Century security system. We need to be less outraged about some Australian citizen in Sweden and more outraged that (1) every stupid thing and many harmful things an official does can be hidden and (2) that we, the folks that started this technological revolution, cannot even protect those secrets that ought to be kept secret.
     
  2. Dec 7, 2010 #62 of 142
    cmoss5

    cmoss5 1960'S NOSTALGIA

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    Doug, I agree with you 100 percent, furthermore as a former US AIRFORCE person with a top secret clearance with access to crypto, this information leak does hurt our nation interally and with the leak of todays leaks, terrorists now have access to where to send
    their bomb equipped islamist idiots personnel to, thanks to wikileaks...personally, I believe someone is gonna gun down this guy in the next 30 days after todays leaks.
     
  3. Dec 7, 2010 #63 of 142
    Stewart Vernon

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    To be honest... no, not really. We made friends with the country where we keep saying we know he ran to hide.

    But I am taking the thread off topic by making that comparison further, so I'll stop myself at that point.

    I'm just really amazed at the reaction to Assange. He's not my friend and probably not someone I'd want to be a friend of... but he is not high on my list of serious problems.

    Problem #1 would be our own security, which apparently is woefully inadequate. Problem #2 would be the behavior itself that is exposed IF that behavior being exposed embarrasses us.
     
  4. Dec 7, 2010 #64 of 142
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    I am likely as knowledgable about the legal implications of all this as a doorknob...but...

    In looking up one word at WIKI....this seemed "interesting"...

     
  5. Dec 7, 2010 #65 of 142
    James Long

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    #1 --- It appears to be mainly one bad apple. Despite the claims on the website there does not appear to be a large number of people violating their clearances and sharing with WikiLeaks.

    #2 --- I believe everyone has had a moment where they made candid less than flattering remarks about a person that they wanted to maintain a positive relationship with. Some offices are better than others at cutting through the garbage and stopping employees before they become accustomed to this bad behavior. I bet if foreign cables were exposed they would have similar private attitudes about our leaders and counterparts.

    If the behavior is more than embarrassing comments (read: illegal acts) then those actions obviously should not have been taken. But there are better ways to expose bad behavior than committing bad behavior oneself.
     
  6. Dec 7, 2010 #66 of 142
    Mike Bertelson

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    Having nearly 30 years experience with the gov't (mostly within the DoD) I seriously doubt much if any of this info existed outside gov't control.

    Mike
     
  7. Dec 7, 2010 #67 of 142
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    It would seem not, and I would hope not.

    With public declaration of world leaders on the terrible posture of releasing this information, it would seem pretty clear that there may be some "winners" in this information release. My guess is that none of those "winners" are allies or friends of our nation.
     
  8. Dec 7, 2010 #68 of 142
    SayWhat?

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    With today's technology and sophistication of some intelligence groups, I doubt much is secret for more than a few hours or maybe days.

    I continue to believe that none of what was (or is soon to be) released is news to any one who has any intent to do anything serious.

    Nor do I believe that any person or group of people is in any way more at risk now than they were 30 days ago as a direct result of any of this. Well, except for a few diplomats who may be looking for work out of sheer embarrassment.
     
  9. Dec 7, 2010 #69 of 142
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    A government employee having a conscience? That's about all I can say about that without banning myself. :)
     
  10. Dec 7, 2010 #70 of 142
    phrelin

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    Good grief, a security breach that doesn't involve an Australian in Sweden:
    :rolleyes:
     
  11. Dec 8, 2010 #71 of 142
    SayWhat?

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    http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/...se-taliban-fighters-afghanistan-angers-troops


    Even thought this isn't really news to some, it's the kind of disclosure that could actually help to save U.S. lives by turning public opinion towards getting us out of there.

    I still think the guy has done the world's people a great service. People need to know what's happening and how diplomats are spinning things.
     
  12. Dec 8, 2010 #72 of 142
    Shades228

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    I think most people confuse transparency and safety. There will be documents in there that are no big deal and people won't understand why their classified, there will be documents in there that are "embarrassing" because people spoke their opinion bluntly, which they should do, and there are documents in there that could cost peoples lives either directly or indirectly. If you don't think our enemies propaganda machines are using this to sew more hatred of us then I envy your naivety.

    There are going to be flaws with every system we ever create because we're human. We don't create perfect things, but the government that we have created allows us to have this conversation, allows us to choose how we want to live, and allows us the freedom to be as stupid as we want to be without hurting others. I welcome those of you who think differently to go visit some countries like Cuba, Venezuela, or any republic former of the Soviet Union.

    If we were committing war crimes like in Abu Ghraib then I could see the benefit. These documents contain nothing like that and the entire intent of releasing them is to make our country weaker. If you support that then perhaps you live in the wrong country.
     
  13. Dec 8, 2010 #73 of 142
    phrelin

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    Ah yes, the "love it or leave it" mantra of last resort when defending the indefensible activities of our government bureaucrats. Weaker, meaning make our government look even more stupid.

    I happen to agree with this noted in an AP story today:
    I see nothing in these cables but self-important employees behaving like idiots at government expense. These folks sent millions of cables so important that they need to be secret and sent them to millions of others. We used to send messages containing few words by carrier pigeon which fortunately kept the number of really important people down to a few hundred.

    American citizens working for the government created a staggering 14.2 million secrets in 2005. But this is not the problem to fear or be upset about. The real problem we real Americans need to focus on is an Australian citizen living in Sweden. Yeah, right.:nono:
     
  14. Dec 8, 2010 #74 of 142
    Dave

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    Yes perhaps some do live in the wrong country, when they let that country by the people for the people and elected by the people to have a free hand in committing crimes in the name of good. Lets look at the past from the statements made a few post back. Has anyone ever been locked up for the governments test to give the people syphalis, cancer or whatever in there so called test for weapons? No this is a government out of control and killing and testing on its own people. Maybe then they will think twice about hopping in bed with us. If we can do these things to our own people, think about what we can do to there people in other countries. So some of our politicians get embarassed about the Wikileaks posting. They are just politicians and nothing else. Perhaps some of them will learn about secrets and how to keep them. This is the age of cyber crimes.
     
  15. Dec 8, 2010 #75 of 142
    phrelin

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    Just when I thought we were all worrying about hackers getting into government confidential information, I see a headline Microsoft Wins Largest U.S. Government Deal for Cloud-Computing Software.

    After reading it, I learned its just the Department of Agriculture and "the federal agency will move 120,000 users to the company’s Internet-based e-mail and conferencing software."

    There's something oddly amusing about the idea that 120,000 government employees will be putting their emails in a cloud. No one could hack a cloud, right?:rolleyes:
     
  16. Dec 8, 2010 #76 of 142
    Stewart Vernon

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    I seem to remember one of the prime reasons given for why it was good to dethrone Saddam Hussein in Iraq was because of the bad things he was doing to his own people...

    Food for thought that our own government is not above doing bad things to its own people... and IF they can shut down anyone who exposes "secrets" whether benign or not... then they can pretty much do whatever they want with impunity.

    Having someone catch you with your pants down should hopefully encourage you to behave better in the future... but instead of learning the lesson to behave better, we seem to try to teach the lesson that it was bad to expose the bad behavior.
     
  17. Dec 8, 2010 #77 of 142
    trh

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    What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Here we have government agencies and members of Congress getting businesses to stop doing legitimate business with Wikileaks and the Attorney General can't even figure out what to charge them with. And he's had since July or August when Wikileaks published the first set of documents to figure this out. Several legal scholars have said unless the US Govt can prove Wikileaks was involved with stealing the documents, they won't be able to convict them of anything.

    Anyone read what SECDEF said about this issue?
    So until we actually indict/charge/arrest Assange, I don't think our government should be illegally stopping people from doing business with them.
     
  18. Dec 8, 2010 #78 of 142
    QuickDrop

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    I'll read through the totality of this topic later, but considering people of all political stripes post here I have this question: What specific information has WikiLeaks revealed that if it had been included by a foreign journalist in a story for a newspaper in a democratic country the United States would demand her/his exportation for trial?

    I completely agree that the person who released the information should be charged. He signed confidentiality agreements. And while he would technically qualify as a political prisoner, considering he released documents in mass, he comes no where close to the classification of "whistle blower" because there is no obvious specific wrong he was hoping to change and the only limit he had was his security clearance.

    However, I'm a bit like Ron Paul here. I support the freedom speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to know unless there is a very good reason for that to be limited. I am completely open to the possibility that the head of Wikileaks should be "brought to justice,"but I need more information than parroting barely less than state run media sources that "he's an enemy of the state." That's what Iran and China says every time they throw a journalist in jail, so forgive me if I find such talk suspect.
     
  19. Dec 9, 2010 #79 of 142
    Stewart Vernon

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    Exactly... and we condemn those countries for doing so... but if it happens to us, then we "forget" all that and want to pursue the guy who publishes the leaks.

    It kind of confirms the way I've always felt... People are people (to quote Depeche Mode)... and when it suits us, we do things that contradict what we say when other people do those same things.
     
  20. Dec 9, 2010 #80 of 142
    sigma1914

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    Yup, the classic, "Well, that's different" defense in an argument.
     

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