Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The WikiLeaks Standoff

There's so much to say about this WikiLeaks situation. I think every conscientious person feels ambivalent about it, and that's the way it should be, it is not a black-and-white phenomenon but rather an evolving story with a rich plot, deep characters, and the possibility of altering history. The Post just put up this story:
Over the past several days, the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks has been hit with a series of blows that have seemed to threaten its survival. Its primary Web address was deactivated, its PayPal account was frozen, and its Internet server gave it the boot.

The result: WikiLeaks is now stronger than ever, at least as measured by its ability to publish online.

Blocked from using one Internet host, WikiLeaks simply jumped to another. Meanwhile, the number of "mirror" Web sites - effectively clones of WikiLeaks's main contents pages - grew from a few dozen last week to 200 by Sunday. By early Wednesday, the number of such sites surpassed 1,000.

At the same time, WikiLeaks's supporters have apparently gone on the offensive, staging retaliatory attacks against Internet companies that have cut ties to the group amid fears they could be associated with it. On Wednesday, hackers briefly shut down access to the Web site for MasterCard and Visa, both of which had announced they had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive

There is ancient Internet lore that says, "The net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Here you go: this is what they were talking about.

I did want to point out some insanity in The Post this morning. The story is called "WikiLeaks founder's arrest in Britain complicates efforts to extradite him." Check out this paragraph:
But to bring Assange to trial on American soil could be increasingly messy. Not only would the United States need to come up with creative charges that may be difficult to prove, it would also have to launch a laborious extradition request with Sweden, a country known for protecting asylum seekers. WikiLeaks founder's arrest in Britain complicates efforts to extradite him

Well, yes, it might be more difficult to extradite him if he is locked up in a British jail.

But, y'know, the hardest part about extraditing him to the US is that he hasn't broken any American law. They'll have to "come up with creative charges."

I heard a radio interview yesterday about this where the word "totalitarianism" was used quite a bit. They've got this guy locked up without bail for the crime of allegedly having sex without a condom, they're talking about extraditing him when he has not done anything demonstrably illegal, they have no case against him, they just want to shut him up. But he's got the goods on them, gigabytes of documents that could blow international government, diplomacy, military, and business to smithereens if they are released, and if he is mistreated they will be released.

This might be a good occasion for Americans to contemplate the function of law in our way of life, and whether we want to respect it or give it up altogether.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other big story is the tax cut extensions that the democrats are furious about.

Can someone please explain why the democrats are furious? They got healthcare passed without a single Republican vote, and last time I looked, they still have the House, Senate and presidency. They lose the House in January, but they still have it now.

If they don't want to extend the tax cuts, they don't have to.

Why are they bellyaching?

December 09, 2010 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's because they are always afraid because they know they believe in things that are not supported by most voters

the fear and guilt they experience keeps them from ever being comfortably unified

it explains so much

December 09, 2010 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

London-based hackers reportedly working in support of the website WikiLeaks as part of "Operation Payback" have turned their keyboards on Sarah Palin, launching a cyber-attack targeted at her fundraising arm SarahPAC, as well as the former Alaska Governor's personal credit card information.

"No wonder others are keeping silent about Assange's antics," Palin emailed ABC News, which originally reported the hacking attempt. "This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts."

Sarah Palin took aim at WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, last month in a Facebook post slamming the website's disclosure of classified information. The former Alaska governor questioned why Assange had not been "pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?" Assange responded in an op-ed this week, writing that Palin had encouraged him to be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden." Palin then took issue with this mischaracterization of her quote in a tweet Wednesday.

SarahPAC aide Rebecca Mansour told ABC News Wednesday that the tech team at SarahPAC had been able to shield the site from the hacking attempts and that Palin herself was prepared for the strike.

"[T]he governor voiced her opinion knowing full well that she was speaking out against a shady disreputable organization with no regard for laws or human life," Mansour told ABC News. "This is how they operate. The world should not be intimidated by them."

The people behind "Operation Payback" better hope that they leave a difficult trail to trace. The last person that tried to hack Sarah Palin's information has been sentenced to a year in jail, though the new attackers' disruption of Visa and Mastercard websites will probably make them much larger targets.

December 09, 2010 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the hysterical and sad thing about this, is that if the dems are successful in blocking the deal, Bea's taxes (I am assuing she's in the lowest bracket) are going up more than anyones elses...

10% to 15 %

How do you like your Democrats now Bea ?

How will you like them January 1st ?

December 09, 2010 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's true

if you do away with Bush's cuts, the neediest taxpayers will have their taxes go up 50%

of course, in 2012, we'll be calling them the Obama tax cuts

my guess is he'll win in 2012 and hardly anyone who voted for him in 2008 will vote for him in 2012

crazy world

December 09, 2010 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more good news for Obama:

"(Dec. 9) -- Senate Republicans have blocked legislation that would have repealed the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and allowed gay troops to serve openly.

Democrats failed Thursday to cinch a deal with Republicans in the waning days of the lame-duck session. The 57-40 test vote fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

The vote ends months of political wrangling on the bill and makes repeal unlikely any time soon.

The 1993 law bans gay troops from publicly acknowledging their sexual orientation. A repeal provision passed last spring in the House but, after today's events, would have to go through the House again and that is unlikely since the new House is controlled by Republicans."

what a break for Obama!

if DADT had been repealed, the military would probably have to reinstate the draft to replace those who would refuse to re-enlist

that'd be hard to defend in November 2012

December 09, 2010 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Still furious over the compromise that President Obama struck with Senate Republicans on the expiring Bush tax cuts, House Democrats voted Thursday not to take up the negotiated package.

House Democrats remain unhappy with the concessions Obama made in his efforts to avoid the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year.

"Democrats think the White House mismanaged this thing and gave away too much," said a senior Democratic aide.

The caucus met Thursday morning away from the House floor to discuss its options in the face of a package that many Democrats are still against. Vice President Biden told the Democrats that the deal that had been made with Republican leaders to protect the super-rich would not be changed.

Across the Capitol, the Senate planned to begin debating the tax issue Thursday afternoon and could schedule votes as early as Saturday.

The tentative agreement that Obama announced Monday night would extend for two years the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, while also continuing current tax rates on their dividends and capital gains. In addition, the estate tax, which expired in 2009, would be set at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption instead of the 55% rate and $1 million exemption Democrats had promised voters.

After the vote, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) spoke to reporters and explained the thinking. "This message today is very simple: That in the form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic caucus. It's as simple as that," said Van Hollen, a minion of Pelosi's team.

In the letter sent to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Peter Welch and his colleagues called the proposal "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

"America is wading into fiscal quicksand. Borrowing nearly a trillion dollars to finance tax cuts that disproportionately favor millionaires and billionaires threatens our party," Welch said. "Digging the country deeper into debt simply doesn't make sense."

December 09, 2010 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The House of Representatives rejected Obama's plan to extend low tax rates that are set to expire in three weeks.

The Democrats' rebellion gives Obama another political headache just over a month after he took a beating in mid-term elections.

In a raucous, closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, mutinous Democrats chanted "Just say no!" as they vowed against Obama's plan to extend low tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, according to lawmakers in the room.

Obama's plan would keep lower rates in place for another two years, reduce the estate tax, and extend tax breaks and other benefits aimed at upper-income Americans.

Democrats have argued that the revenue that would be lost by extending tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of U.S. households can be put to better use.

Tax bills will rise in January by an average of $3,000 per household if Congress does not act.

December 09, 2010 8:13 PM  
Anonymous tell us how you really feel said...

The Senate this afternoon killed on a procedural motion, 57 to 40, a bill containing repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on gays in the military. President Obama personally phoned Republican Senators urging repeal and many laughed at him.

The vote fell three short of the 60 needed to move ahead, and will kill, probably for years, legislative repeal of the 17-year-old ban.

Efforts are underway to revive repeal as a stand-alone bill, but that faces even tougher odds, with just over a week left before this Congress adjourns.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid called up the defense bill knowing it would fail. Sen. Susan Collins, rushed to the Senate floor moments before the vote, accusing Reid of sabotaging their negotiations.

"There was such a clear path for us to be able to get this bill done and I am perplexed and frustrated that this important bill is going to become a victim of politics," Collins said. "Sen. Lieberman and I have been bargaining in good faith with the majority leader."

Collins said she thought she and Sen. Joe Lieberman,I-Conn.,who had been championing repeal, had an agreement to allow a debate with 10 GOP amendments and 5 Democratic amendments. Collins supports repeal, and supporters hoped that an agreement on the parameters of debate would brought along enough other Republicans to repeal the ban.

A senior Democratic aide said Reid had been working closely with Collins and Lieberman and had given Collins plenty of ground, including the amendment offer, which the aide said Collins had rejected. Plus, the Senate was running out of time and Reid had to go Christmas shopping, the aide said. "Sen. Reid earlier this year, in July and in September, did offer to have unlimited debate on the bill, and Sen. Collins could have supported moving forward at that time, and she didn't."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has held up the defense bill for months over repeal of the ban. Recently, Republicans had insisted that their deal with President Obama on tax cuts be resolved before proceeding to any other business, including the repeal.

Repeal of Don't Ask had passed the House earlier this year, but Republican leaders who will assume control of the House in January have made clear they have no intention of bringing up repeal when they take control. They will be in power for at least two years, until the next elections in 2012.

Out-Serve, a network of active gay, lesbian and bisexual troops, issued a statement calling the defeat "heartbreaking and demoralizing" for troops who "who must continue to serve in silence and live a lie. No words can describe how it felt to watch our U.S. senators uphold discrimination and perpetuate the deceit and compromised integrity that consistently result under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' We had more faith in our elected officials to heed the advice of military leadership and vote against prejudice. Instead, a minority of senators have successfully blockaded the entire defense spending bill on the basis of prejudice and politics. This was nothing short of turning their backs on the people that defend this country."

McCain had argued that the Pentagon study --the most extensive ever made on the subject -- was flawed, and cited resistance among Marine and Army combat troops and special operations forces to serving with openly gay troops.

The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay lobbying group, demanded that Obama act unilaterally to halt discharges of gay and lesbian troops and cease defense of the ban in court.

December 09, 2010 8:27 PM  
Anonymous it's all falling apart said...

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that Congress would be setting a dangerous precedent if it prohibited the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States where they could stand trial.

At a news conference, the attorney general criticized the proposed ban which is contained in a broad measure to freeze the budgets of most Cabinet departments and fund the war in Afghanistan for another year.

December 09, 2010 8:30 PM  
Anonymous last chance said...

Saying the United States was finally righting old wrongs, President Obama signed legislation Wednesday settling two class-action discrimination suits filed by black farmers, awarding them $4.6 billion.

December 09, 2010 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's obvious that not many people give a hoot about the DADT issue. When I bring it up to my liberal friends, expecting a strong debate, I am disappointed. They could care less -- shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes and move on to the next subject.

It's time to stop dwelling and move on.

December 10, 2010 7:21 PM  

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