Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do we know "who is behind Wikileaks"?

I am getting emails from readers on an almost daily basis now, pointing me to the article by by Michel Chossudovsky "Who is Behind Wikileaks?"  This is a very good article indeed, and I highly recommend its reading.  But please, let me point out the key segment of this article (emphasis added):

In the case of Wikileaks, the facts are contained in a data bank; many of those facts, particularly those pertaining to foreign governments serve US foreign policy interests. Other facts tend, on the other hand to discredit the US administration. With regard to financial information, the release of data pertaining to a particular bank instigated via Wikileaks by a rival financial institution, could potentially be used to trigger the collapse or bankrutpcy of the targeted financial institution.  All the Wiki-facts are selectively redacted, they are then "analyzed" and interpreted by a media which serves the economic elites. While the numerous pieces of information contained in the Wikileaks data bank are accessible, the broader public will not normally take the trouble to consult and scan through the Wikileaks data bank. The public will read the redacted selections and interpretations presented in major news outlets.  A partial and biased picture is presented. The redacted version is accepted by public opinion because it is based on what is heralded as a "reliable source", when in fact what is presented in the pages of major newspapers and on network TV is a carefully crafted and convoluted distortion of the truth. 

Ok.  So what does Chossudovsky say?

1. The data dump itself is real
2. The corporate media selectively uses it
3. The general public only sees what the corporate media gives it

I agree with all of the above.  But notice that none of that says anything about some mysterious "who" who is "behind" Wikileaks.  None of that makes any claims about Assange himself.  In fact, Chossudovsky ends his article with the words: we should also stand firm in preventing the prosecution of Julian Assange in the US.

Many readers are pointing out that Assange is a self-enamored character who likes to ridicule the 9-11 Truth movement.  That is possibly quite true, but that is also highly irrelevant.  These are most definitely not the reasons why folks like Ron Paul, Vladimir Putin, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or Evo Morales are expressing their support for him.  Nor I these the reasons why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decries the leaks as 'US propaganda'.

And I would like to lay to rest once and for all (hopefully!) two of the worst of all arguments of the Wiki-doubters: that a) the leaks are parroting the Zionist propaganda lies and b) that they don't contain anything really 'hot'.

The first one is a no-brainer: these leaks come from the SIPRNet, that is a *low* level classified network.  Yes, information like 'confidential' and 'secret' is in reality of *low* level.  In fact, 2,5-3 million people have access to this network.  Now ask yourself a simple question: you are a US government employee with a security clearance, and you are about to contribute an entry to a network which is read by millions of other US government employees, including your bosses.  Do you really want to criticize Israel in any way?  Do you even want to disagree with the Zionist propaganda line?  Of course not!  That would be a career ending mistake.

The second argument is only made by those who never had a security clearance.  Anybody with real access to highly classified documents will tell you that 'confidential' and 'secret' are really riff-raff, stuff which really could be classified as 'for official use only', but which gets the higher level to avoid embarrassment.  This is also why the leaks have mostly only caused embarrassment to Uncle Sam: because by definition anything 'hotter' would be classified much higher and restricted to a dramatically lower number of people, only on a need to know basis.  Think about it - stuff given out to several million folks is, by definition, not a 'need to know' and therefore it cannot be truly 'hot'.

As somebody how did have a high level security clearance in the past, I can assure you that these leaks look *exactly* like the kind of mildly classified chatter which you would expect on this level of classification.

Back to the original argument now.  Point one: there is absolutely no reason to doubt that the person who is behind the data dump to Wikileaks is Bradley Manning or somebody else from the several million of people who had access to SIPRNet.  Point two: all Assange and Wikileaks did is manage the modalities of release of this data dump.  I personally think that they did not do a very good job of it (I would have dumped the full thing in one batch), but there is no reason to suspect that Assange or his friends are puppets of some kind of shadowy intelligence agency.  Point three: Assange himself, his character and his views simply do not matter and saying that there is no reason to suspect Assange is not some plant does not entail endorsing his personality, his views or, in fact, his use (or not) of condoms.  Point four: the same goes for Wikileaks as an organization which matters only to the degree that it is a conduit for the release of the information contained in the data dump.  As I said, I am less then thrilled by how they are doing it all, but the fact that I would have chosen a different strategy does not mean that they are all Mossad agents.

The really bad thing in this entire debate about who or what is behind Wikileaks is that it obfuscates the real issue, and that issue is real: the US government is using all its powers to censor the Internet and, so far, it has had an appalling degree of success.  Worse, it is quite clear that Bradely Manning's basic human rights are being horribly violated and there is a non-trivial possibility that the same might happen to Julian Assange should he be extradited to the 'Imperial Homeland'.

Folks like the EFF or Ron Paul get it right: the real issue here is the nature of the US government and the freedom of the Internet.  The rest is, frankly, counter productive distraction.

YMMV, of course.

The Saker