Substitute NYT for Wikileaks and substitute Iran for the United States

| January 9, 2011 | 2 Replies

Wikileaks continues to be punished for being one of the few organizations brash enough to inform us what our governments are really doing and why. This is intolerable, of course, because the U.S. government is being run by big corporations and wealthy people who, for the most part, are driven by greed–so sorry to break this to the kids who are studying civics in grade school, where they don’t tell you about armies of lobbyists, and they don’t tell you that the banks own Congress.

The true powers that be are running the federal government in secret and they are, regrettably, running it into the ground. That’s what one should expect when there is no sunshine to keep powerful people accountable. What we have is a needlessly warmongering, debt-ridden and secret and personally invasive brave new government.   I truly wish I didn’t believe these things.

Consider that our government first attacked Wikileaks by starving it financially, despite the lack of any charges filed against it. They did this by harassing Amazon and various financial organizations to make sure that Wikileaks had no funds to fight in Round II, which is underway. We now know that there are secret subpoenas being issued by the US, and thank goodness that Twitter had the decency to inform its users that their privacy is being invaded, unlike the big U.S. telecoms, who have a long documented track record for turning over our private information without informing us (encouraged very much by President Obama’s agreement to grant them retroactive immunity for past invasions of our privacy.  Julian Assange sums up the current grand jury proceedings like this, and we know of this only because the U.K. Guardian has continually refused to be the lapdog of the U.S.:

The emergence of the Twitter subpoena – which was unsealed after a legal challenge by the company – was revealed after WikiLeaks announced it believed other US Internet companies had also been ordered to hand over information about its members’ activities.

WikiLeaks condemned the court order, saying it amounted to harassment.

“If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out,” Assange said in a statement.

Glenn Greenwald comments further:

It’s worth recalling — and I hope journalists writing about this story remind themselves — that all of this extraordinary probing and “criminal” investigating is stemming from WikiLeaks’ doing nothing more than publishing classified information showing what the U.S. Government is doing: something investigative journalists, by definition, do all the time.

And the key question now is this: did other Internet and social network companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) receive similar Orders and then quietly comply? It’s difficult to imagine why the DOJ would want information only from Twitter; if anything, given the limited information it has about users, Twitter would seem one of the least fruitful avenues to pursue. But if other companies did receive and quietly comply with these orders, it will be a long time before we know, if we ever do, given the prohibition in these orders on disclosing even its existence to anyone.

UPDATE III: Iceland’s Interior Minister, Ögmundur Jónasson, described the DOJ’s efforts to obtain the Twitter information of a member of that country’s Parliament as “grave and odd.” While suggesting some criticisms of WikiLeaks, he added: “if we manage to make government transparent and give all of us some insight into what is happening in countries involved in warfare it can only be for the good.”

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Category: Censorship, Corruption, Heroes, hypocrisy, Journalism, Orwellian, Privacy, Secrecy, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Rick Massey says:

    What continues to amaze me more than anything else is the apathy of the American people. If a Mexican crosses the border to (gasp!) work to try and feed his family because so far, there are still more jobs here than down south, everyone get's their panties in a wad. If someone on the wrong side of our religion-based societal preferences wants to have the legal protection everyone else has to marry another human being you would think Benedict Arnold has risen from the grave.

    But when our government openly attacks the primary checks and balances that have kept us free for all these years, the dissenting voices seem few and far between. Can't people see that a free press is the only effective defense against totalitarian governments?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Rick: I have about 300 "friends" on Facebook, which I use primarily as a marketing tool for this website. Many of the people I have befriended have somewhat more of a social conscience than the average person, I believe. But most of what happens on Facebook is chatter. "I'm at the grocery store thinking about buying grapes" or "Just saw a cool movie." Not that Facebook should always be serious–and people are certainly allowed to use it however they want. But I'm amazed at the general lack of interest in using it as a tool for organizing and social justice. There are some notable exceptions, but most people want mostly to be distracted from the corruption, violence, dwindling resources and social breakdown of their own society.

      When I put links to this site, they don't draw much attention. When others post on their walls about critical issues, I notice the same pattern. I suspect that most smart and capable people have reached the point of resignation. They just don't have it in them to fight the fight. I can't really blame them. It consumes me, and steals what would have been a much more enjoyable life from me.

      But I agree with you that we are headed down the road to a totalitarian state, and that is a place where I don't want my children living. I also agree that the best antidote is a free and open government. We need to see who is making the decisions and why, and what the ramifications are. That takes a lot of work, and it's much easier to enjoy shopping, eating and watching movies. We are living in a Brave New World.

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