Talk:WikiLeaks/Archive 1

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This is the talk page related to the mainspace version Dec. 15, 2010
replaced by a version edited by Sandy Harris in his user space (histories merged) (see Archive 2)

Article structure and focus

As it stands, and partly because I deleted material that on its own was biased, the article is a mess. It needs some agreement about what its focus is, what should be included as background, and how to structure all of this.

I suggest that we sort this out on the talk page, with answers to these questions in principle. My starting point is that although the recent leaked cables were from the US, this has nothing to do with US politics. Wikileaks is a global NGO that wants to expose government and private sector documented secrets across the world. Their history and rationale are relevant, but were poorly explained in the section I deleted. They seem to be a new sort of internet entity, that nobody had expected to emerge. This needs to be documented.

i also think that their activities are central, and the recent (and older) leaks need to be described and analysed here. i do not think that this is easy, but that is the requirement.

Other comments welcome. Also look at the WP article, which currently is rather better. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:39, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

I have heard them described as a new sort of Internet entity, but that may be only in degree. Cryptome.org has had similar goals for years. The National Security Archive, George Washington University publishes much, although far more contextualized, and obtained legally, often through litigation. Of course, while it was paper, the Pentagon Papers was perhaps even more impactful in 1971. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:57, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
What would be a good structure for this article? After taking a look at some articles on other organizations, having the following sections (with roughly the following titles and and roughly in that order) might be helpful:
  1. Mission
  2. History
  3. Structure
  4. Activities
  5. Partners
  6. Criticism
As for the current sections, I suggest to move most of them to more relevant articles:
"Cryptome and John Young" should go to Cryptome and a suitably disambiguated John Young, linked from a short summary in the history section
Similarly, "Secrecy News and Steven Aftergood" should go to these two articles, linked from a short summary in the history section
"Daniel Ellsberg" should go to that article, linked from a short summary in the history section
"U.S. government response" should go to a subsection under "Responses" for each of the different release projects that are to be covered at CZ (and linked from the Activities section); and it should be accompanied by a balanced selection of similar information about the reaction of media, governments, corporations and others to that particular release
"Attack and counterattack on the Web" is probably best covered by way of dedicated sections (Activities and responses, or even attacks) in the articles dedicated to the different release projects, though a dedicated article on the cyberattacks related to WikiLeaks might also be merited
"Other attacks on Wikileaks' operations" - again best under specific project-related articles, or possibly in a dedicated article if enough suitable material is available
"Investigations of Wikileaks founder on personal issues" - merits brief mention here but should go to Julian Assange or even a dedicated article
"Disclosures of non-U.S. information" - the information contained in there is probably best added to the project-specific articles.
"Going corporate" - that would go under "Structure".
Furthermore, the many quotes provide for a rich set of information but most of them would fit better onto Timeline, Addendum or Debate Guide subpages, where thy could be put into the context of other relevant quotes much better than the main page allows.
--Daniel Mietchen 13:10, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Remember that Wikileaks has been operating for several years, not just with the recent mass diplomatic disclosures, or even the military ones. I think the Young and Aftergood material should remain in the main article, as the discussion was concerned with the formation of Wikileaks, and both have leaked themselves. Aftergood, however, is a security reformer. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:57, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I have commented on Daniel's suggested outline at User_talk:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks Sandy Harris 11:52, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Cypherpunk?

WP's cypherpunk page, large parts of which were copied from our article, has a section titled Noteworthy cypherpunks which mentions Assange. Looks like it might be accurate according to this post on John Young's cryptome site. I'll add it to our cypherpunk article soon. However, it might also need mention here, and I'm not likely to do that. Sandy Harris 07:05, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Bias?

I have serious problems with bias in this article. It is couched in a solely US perspective, has failed to mention the most outrageous revelations of the US government that have emerged from the leaks, and fails to mention the DoS attacks, removal of the domain name and other clearly politically inspired attacks against Wikileaks. The discussion of the alleged rape charges against Assange is also biased, and needs to be properly balanced with accurate information on timing and the strange behaviour of the swedish prosecutor (and possibly the Swedish courts,but this is less clear). Overall, this article does not conform with CZ neutrality policy, and has to be corrected or otherwise dealt with. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:33, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

First, the article is about Wikileaks, not the content of the documents. "Outrageous revelations of the US government" is every bit as biased as what you claim.
It is, however, CZ tradition that you contribute content about your position, not simply to complain. Go ahead and balance, but do not simply delete.
Perhaps you should be more familiar with Cryptome, the Pentagon Papers, the Progressive Case, and the Federation of American Scientists before generalizing about leaking in general.
The reason there is more US emphasis is that Wikileaks has principally disclosed US governments. If Wikileaks had disclosed large numbers of Russian documents, I assure you that would have been covered, but it is not a violation of neutrality to describe the actual interactions between USG and Wikileaks. It seems as if your goal is to defend Assange and attack the US.
In a different article, I would be willing to deal with some of the bad military and political actions revealed by the documents. Many of them require a significant amount of experience to interpret; the news media have not done a great job. Suffice it to cite, for example, that seeing the code "Bone Winchester" in a message means that someone erred very badly. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:47, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Howard,You will conform to CZ neutrality policy or I will blank this article until I rewrite it.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:49, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
First, Martin, you have no authority to give me orders. Second, you have no authority to be the sole arbiter of neutrality policy, especially in an article where I went to some effort to provide balance. Third, I inform you that under the current Constabulary Blocking Policy, unilateral blanking is a bannable act of vandalism. Fourth, we are both Politics Editors, and should be able to discuss this matter professionally and as peers. It happens, incidentally, that security classification and declassification has been an professional interest of mine, certainly since 1972.
If you wanted to create articles about some of the disclosed documents, I might help -- but I observe that "outrageous" has no place in a neutral article, other than perhaps as a sourced quote. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:25, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

I do not see it so much as biased, more incomplete. It certainly needs expansion, including more on the rape charge, at least a summary and links for the more important revelations, and more background. Cryptome & the Pentagon Papers need their own articles with links here. Probably both of you could contribute useful material.

As for blanking, I do not believe either that it is necessary or that Martin has the authority to do it if it were. Sandy Harris 22:00, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, Sandy. Part of my annoyance is that it was blasted about bias while I was still writing -- and am continuing to do so. On the technical front, as you'll realize, of course, the domain name was not removed; the DNS service provider stopped its support. As to the DOS, I have not yet found really good technical analysis, but I'm looking for it.
I have no particular insight into the rape charge, although I do have a bit more from Britain. I am quite familiar with the Pentagon Papers; with Cryptome, I have only user-level knowledge; I did start the Federation of American Scientists article and will probably expand there -- Steven Aftergood is pretty nice about answering email. Note also that I expanded classified information, and will probably do more there about the needs to reform the system. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:04, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
The article seems fairly neutral as most of the Wikileaks information disclosure was pointed towards harming the US. This article clearly states the facts. Of course information offering a broader worldwide perspective is always good, but as it stands now the Wikileaks organization has every intention to harm the US and its allies.Mary Ash 03:43, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Probably you express popular US opinion, Mary, but it is incorrect. There is no evidence at all to suggest this, and positions of that sort are contrary to CZ policy. You may express your own opinion, especially on talk pages, but personal (or national) opinions may not be stated as facts. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Actually, Mary, I tend to agree with Martin that it's not appropriate, at least in the article, to say that Wikileaks does or does not intend to harm. I think I did address the issues, however, when quoting Steven Aftergood, an internationally respected expert on government secrecy -- not just US -- on his observation that Wikileaks does not seem to have a clear goal other than being opposed to secrecy of any type.
On the other hand, when another individual makes statements on the talk page that are highly anti-American, it does not tend to make me confident that they are neutral observations or will contribute to neutrality. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Constable Comment

I have not read this article and do not intend to. My focus will be on the behavior on this page and on the forums. The content of the article is under the purview of others. I suggest that, if there is an issue about neutrality, appropriate workgroup conferences begin and the Ombudsman may be able to help settle disputes while the ME may decide to make interim decisions. Large deletions would be considered unprofessional unless they are thoroughly discussed using appropriate workgroup and CZ resources. Surely there will be several expert disagreements about how to present this subject, but Editors should not allow discussions to elevate beyond professional levels before asking for assistance from fellow workgroup editors or the ME and Ombudsman. Authors should be careful to follow editorial advice. Constables can remove an article if it is clearly non-neutral. D. Matt Innis 19:38, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

I am perfectly willing to work with the Ombudsman or Managing Editor. Do note that the attacks on non-neutrality, and the threats to blank, came while I was still actively adding to the article. I deny this article is non-neutral; I have been making an effort to include a variety of views, for example, in the U.S. government and political system. Is it non-neutral to describe this principally with respect to the U.S.? Well, the documents released are principally U.S., although there have been some third-country disclosures that I've started to discuss.
Allegations of neutrality violation seem a bit premature, if not perhaps a manifestation of personal dislike rather than substance.
Also note that both disputants are Politics Editors and considered peers; I am also a Military and Computers Editor, which is hardly irrelevant. As the author, for example, of the Approved Domain Name Service article, it seems reasonable enough that I comment on the DNS denials to Wikileaks.
I again emphasize that this is about the interactions of Wikileaks as an organization, not about the content of the released documents. Those documents are better discussed in the context of articles dealing with their subjects.

Document summaries

While I've temporarily put in some disclosures about U.S. relations with Lebanon, and will probably summarize about general Middle Eastern concerns about the Iranian nuclear program, my sense is that these don't belong in the Wikileaks article, but in articles about those subjects.

I may just start adding the diplomatic information to Iranian nuclear program, an article on which I really could use collaboration.

Again, though, my point here is this article should deal with the Wikileaks disclosure, its relations, etc., but not the substantive issues addressed by the disclosures. Wikileaks is simply not the only source on those matters. I'd also note that if one is inexperienced in reading between the lines of US military or diplomatic documents, it's easy to misinterpret. The military ones are worse, in this, than the diplomatic, since they have so many specialized codewords, etc. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:40, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

I will again make the point that I am not opposed to such coverage, but it would be more objective to put into articles about the topics to which the documents refer, not this article. There's the practical problem that the Wikileaks release involves tens, even hundreds of thousands of documents -- how could one article possibly address them? I am not trying to support or attack U.S. foreign and intelligence policy, which seems to be the desire of one critic. I am attempting to describe that which Wikipedia and its opponents have done regarding document release. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

The Onion

Julian Assange fired from IT job at the Pentagon Sandy Harris 23:01, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

This doesn't make sense to me. The State Department admitted that they have no hold over him as he is neither a US citizen nor resident: so what the %^&( is the pentagon doing employing aliens who are not resident in the USA? Or is this a joke? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:06, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

The Onion is a humor blog. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:27, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Very droll :-P Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:31, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds that it is needlessly inflammatory. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

This is about global politics and I do not expect you to know national satire blogs for other countries of the world. Your comment is irrelevant and ethnocentric - as ismuch of the content of this article. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:30, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Again, Martin, you are attempting to turn this article into something that it is not, although it is perfectly appropriate for you to create an article on global political impact. I am writing this as much as a information security and privacy expert -- which you are not and Sandy, for that matter, is -- as a political analyst with specific intelligence experience. My emphasis here is to describe the fairly complex aspects of the mechanisms of the release, the cyber countermeasures against Wikileaks, etc. Certainly, you have few qualifications to judge relevancy in information security and privacy, if you deleted an EFF comment as "ethnocentric".
US-centric, I could see, but precisely when did US become an ethnicity? Now, technically I'm adopted, but it was really a blended family. Many of my ancestors came from places where raiders regularly raped as they looted. When I'm asked for my race on official documents, I respond "human".
Sounds like you want some US hostility, not neutrality. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:38, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Improvement

It's far less biased than when I made the comment, so that is good. Incidentally, they have given up on US servers and have set up a new domain in Switzerland, in alliance with some minor political movement there, in the belief that that will provide some protection from the games of the US, French and other governments. All of these things are happening now, so I will not complain that they are not included. They need better sourcing than initial press reports, anyway.

It remains too US-focused, though. And the international news networks are all saying that Amazon dumped wikileaks after pressure from the US government. The clear message to me is that since there is no legal basis for action against anyone, the US has taken the road of extra-legal and probably illegal actions. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:03, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

There may have been US pressure on the networks, but many networks will get rid of a customer that is the target of a DDOS attack -- it disables the network for all their other customers and, as a matter of business survival, the network may have to oust a customer.
When you speak of "extra-legal and illegal", I expect you to identify the laws that are being broken. Ron Paul, for example, makes the case that Wikileaks should be treated as news media, and it arguably would be grounds for injunctive relief under the First Amendment to block an attack on a news organization. There really isn't much case law for these circumstances.
If, hypothetically, the EU has some law against the attacks, that certainly does not apply in the United States. There are also multiple suspects for the DDOS, if you think it's a US cyberattack, I'd like to see the forensice. I certainly don't know who is doing it.
It is good that you consider it less biased, but it would be even better if you admit you leaped to attack an article that was under active development, and that you had no grounds to suggest blanking. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:27, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I have deleted the section Origins, as you did not amend it, as unacceptable negative bias. I don't have time to substitute text at the moment, but don't revert it please. This is not negotiable. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:08, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Martin, please stop this blanking nonsense!
I cannot see what you consider bias in that text. Either contribute what you consider better text or restore Howard's text and explain what you consider biased here so someone can fix it. Sandy Harris 10:36, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Sandy, are you an expert in political science? If so, apply to be an editor. Otherwise, just show some respect for editors are you are required under CZ rules. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:53, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
I do not consider your deletion to be justified - and I do not accept that my lack of a degree in politics disqualifies me from making that judgement. Nick Gardner 12:46, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, I am an expert in US politics and in US intelligence. There are aspects of US security classification policy that I have helped criticize, drafting Congressional testimony for the Ripon Society as far back as 1972. Nevertheless, I also believe that some government secrecy is necessary. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Sabotage

The point will have occurred to you, Howard, but if someone tries to argue that wikileaks do us a good turn, I suggest that you invite them to imagine trying to draft professional advice to a government decision maker in such a way that it could do no harm if parts of it were quoted in the press. Have them suppose, for example, that they wished to warn of a possible disaster without triggering a panic; or recommend a bargaining position without making it untenable; or advise against a bank rescue without frightening depositors into a bank run - etcetera - I could go on and on. The fact is that wikileaks are likely to diminish the quality of decision-making. In the long run, that will impose costs upon us as surely as would industrial sabotage. Nick Gardner 11:04, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

That is a reasonable argument, Nick. On the other hand, the great majority of the cables are no more than gossip, and reflect the manner in which the USA formulates policy. The overall impact of the massive leakages of diplomatic cables is unclear: what seems likely is that it is a landmark and not something to be trivialised.
There are many problems with the approach taken in this draft. One of them is an insistence on institutional matters, to the exclusion of activities. This is certainly wrong. The second one is the bias concerning history and structure. Compare the WP article to what was written here (I have deleted the worst section) and the WP article is far less biased and US-centric. This is a disaster for us: CZ has to have higher analytical and neautrality standards than WP, else our very existence is meaningless. So, for me, this article is a litmus test of what CZ has to offer the world: thus far, it seems to be very little. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:24, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
I should also mention that one revelation is absolutely shocking: that the CIA requested the State Department to instruct its staff in the UN to spy on individuals in the UN administration (including the Sec. Gen.) and collect credit card data, login passwords, etc. This is probably the biggest shock -- for me, at least -- even though the US has a nasty history of spying on its allies. So, although the negative impact on policy advice does need to be considered, it could be solved by simply restricting it to a few parties. The number of people who had access to these cables is, I think, over 100,000 persons: that is hardly confidential. If nothing else, the cable leaks expose the arrogance of the US diplomatic service, and that may have positive consequences for all parties. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:30, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
How can a political expert be surprised by the fact that the US spies on its allies and its allies spy on us? Standard procedure for all major nations. David E. Volk 17:44, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
David: it is not normal for a leading country of the world to admit in cables read by over 100,000 persons (in one estimate I saw) that the diplomatic staff were asked to steal credit card numbers and passwords of the UN Secretary General. This is the depths of criminal behaviour (as opposed to wikileaks which has not broken any laws) and has shocked the world. That Americans are not shocked, actually says something. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:58, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Arrogance of the US diplomatic service. Let us look, perhaps, at hard copy disclosures of other intelligence services. Peter Wright's Spycatcher, discussing the British Security Service's installation of bugs, a bit more than collecting phone numbers, on diplomatic premises in the UK proper and the Commonwealth. Not to be Western centric, there are abundant Soviet examples--one that immediately comes to mind is "Victor Suvorov (pseud.)"'s Inside the Aquarium about GRU operations against diplomats. For a more independent nation, see Victor Ostrovsky's By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer.
Further, Martin, Wikileaks also made massive disclosures of tactical and low-level operational military messages. It's not only a diplomatic matter. Unfortunately, the news media have not done a great job in explaining those much more cryptic messages, written as they are as immediate messages to people expert in the jargon. I'll merely say that when I saw "BONE WINCHESTER" in one message, I gasped with shock, wondering how the situation had gotten so bad for the troops involved. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
We can surely acknowledge that public benefits can sometimes result from breaches of trust, while not forgetting to point out that if they became a general practice, the result would be extremely damaging? Nick Gardner 08:33, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Section removed from the article

I've copied and pasted the section that was removed by Martin to this location where collaboration on the talk page can continue. D. Matt Innis 22:36, 4 December 2010 (UTC)


Origins

The founder is Julian Assange, about whom little is known, except that he appears to be an Australian in his thirties. He is known to have been raised in Melbourne, and was convicted, as a teenager, of hacking into websites as a member of a hacker collective called the International Subversives. "He eventually pled guilty to 24 counts of breaking into Australian government and commercial websites to test their security gaps, but was released on bond for good behavior. His official bio describes him as "Australia's most famous ethical hacker.""[1] Assange assisted in writing the book, Underground: Tales of hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier.[2]

The founders were described as mostly Chinese dissidents, hackers, computer programmers and journalists. Early in the formation, the founders wrote to Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, saying, in an email released by John Young,
We believe that injustice is answered by good governance and for there to be good governance there must be open governance," the email said. "New technology and cryptographic ideas permit us to not only encourage document leaking, but to facilitate it directly on a mass scale. We intend to place a new star in the political firmament of man." The email appealed to Ellsberg to be part of the "political-legal defences" the organisers recognised they would need once they started to get under the skin of governments, militaries and corporations: "We'd like … you to form part of our political armour. The more armour we have, particularly in the form of men and women sanctified by age, history and class, the more we can act like brazen young men and get away with it." [3]
Chris McGreal, of the The Guardian, wrote
Assange, who describes what he does as a mix of hi-tech investigative journalism and advocacy, foresees a day when any confidential document, from secret orders that allow our own governments to spy on us down to the bossy letters from your children's school, will be posted on WikiLeaks for the whole world to see. And that, Assange believes, will change everything.
But there are those who fear that WikiLeaks is more like an intelligence service than it would care to admit – a shadowy, unaccountable organisation that tramples on individual privacy and other rights. And like so many others who have claimed to be acting in the name of the people, there are those who fear it risks oppressing them.[3]

Cryptome and John Young

McGreal reported that the organisers approached John Young, owner of the long-established leaked document site, Cryptome.org, and asked him to register the WikiLeaks website in his name. According to McGreal, "Young obliged and was initially an enthusiastic supporter but when the organisers announced their intention to try and raise $5m he questioned their motives, saying that kind of money could only come from the CIA or George Soros. Then he walked away. 'WikiLeaks is a fraud,' he wrote in an email when he quit. 'Fuck your cute hustle and disinformation campaign against legitimate dissent. Same old shit, working for the enemy.' Young then leaked all of his email correspondence with WikiLeak's founders, including the messages to Ellsberg."

Messages in the correspondence leaked by Young are headed,

This is a restricted internal development mailinglist for w-i-k-i-l-e-a-k-s-.-o-r-g. Please do not mention that word directly in these discussions; refer instead to 'WL'. This list is housed at riseup.net, an activist collective in Seattle with an established lawyer

and plenty of backbone.[4]

Secrecy News and Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood, who publishes Secrecy News for the Federation of American Scientists, declined to join Wikileaks. Aftergood, who has chosen to withhold or redact certain documents based on what he considers legitimate reasons of public safety, told Wikileaks "we do not favor automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records. In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste." They replied, "So we disagree on first principles? No problem, replied Wikileaks: “Advisory positions are just that — advisory! If you want to advise us to censor, then by all means do so.”[5]

Jay Lim of Wikileaks sent an email of complaint to Aftergood, which he published on his blog.
Who’s side are you on here Stephen? It is time this constant harping stopped.
You know full well if you make n comments about us and m negative ones about us it’ll only be the negative comment that is reported — since everyone else has only positive things to say and by your position at FAS there is an expectation of positive comment. You are not a child. As a result of your previous criticism it seem you are becoming the ‘go to’ man for negative comments on Wikileaks. Over the last year, our most quoted critic has not been a right wing radio host, it has not been the Chinese ambassador, it has not been Pentagon bureaucrats, it has been you Stephen. You are the number one public enemy of this project. On top of everything else, your quote is the only critical entry on our Wikipedia page. Some friend of openness!
We are very disappointed in your lack of support and suggest you cool it. If you don’t, we will, with great reluctance, be forced to respond.”[6]
After the large disclosures in 2010, Aftergood questioned the purpose of Wikileaks. He describes Wikleaks actions as symptomatic of problems with the U.S. classification system, but unfocused as far as real policy objectives. Aftergood does suggest, however, that Wikileaks grew in part from a reaction to a dysfunctional security classification system.
The Wikileaks project seems to be, more than anything else, an assault on secrecy. If Wikileaks were most concerned about whistleblowing, it would focus on revealing corruption. If it were concerned with historical truth, it would emphasize the discovery of verifiably true facts. If it were anti-war, it would safeguard, not disrupt, the conduct of diplomatic communications. But instead, what Wikileaks has done is to publish a vast potpourri of records — dazzling, revelatory, true, questionable, embarrassing, or routine — whose only common feature is that they are classified or otherwise restricted.
This may be understood as a reaction to a real problem, namely the fact that by all accounts, the scope of government secrecy in the U.S. (not to mention other countries) has exceeded rational boundaries. Disabling secrecy in the name of transparency would be a sensible goal — if it were true that all secrecy is wrong. But if there is a legitimate role for secrecy in military operations, in intelligence gathering or in diplomatic negotiations, as seems self-evident, then a different approach is called for.[7]
  1. David Kushner (6 April 2010), "Inside WikiLeaks’ Leak Factory", Mother Jones
  2. Suelette Dreyfus with research by Julian Assange (June 1997), Underground: Tales of hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier, Random House Australia, ISBN 1863305955
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chris McGreal (9 April 2010), "Who Watches Wikilinks?", Guardian (UK)
  4. Wikileaks-leak, Cryptome.org
  5. Steven Aftergood (3 January 2007), Wikileaks and Untraceable Document Disclosure, Secrecy News, Federation of American Scientists
  6. Steven Aftergood (22 February 2008), A Word from Wikileaks, Secrecy News, Federation of American Scientists
  7. Steven Aftergood (29 November 2010), The Race to Fix the Classification System

Now, I don't know exactly what Martin removed or Matt put here. Nevertheless, it's rather hard to collaborate if one side announces it is unacceptable, but has no time to be specific or offer alternate text. Steven Aftergood, in particular, is widely regarded as neutral, even by opponents, and has testiified in and outside the US. I note that the Daniel Ellsberg material, however, seems to be still there. Interesting -- Ellsberg is associated with a more extreme position -- although I respect his integrity.
I also note that Martin deleted large parts of "Attack and Defense on the Web", but Matt did not move it here. Specifically, Martin deleted the statement of the technical vendors involved, as well as US critics of their action such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and inserted an "international" section having little to do with some of the technical security issues involved. If the EFF is pro-US-government, do I hear the sound of ice cubes in the mixed drinks in Hell? Sandy can speak even better of the EFF.
Removed text
Amazon's decision led to questions on the pure business risk of putting applications on cloud computing, since a provider might abruptly terminate service for an acceptable use policy violation -- although this also can happen with hosted servers. [1] The Electronic Frontier Foundation observed that "online free speech is only as strong as the weakest intermediate"; First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution rights do not apply to private contracts. "...a web hosting company isn't the government. It's a private actor and it certainly can choose what to publish and what not to publish. Indeed, Amazon has its own First Amendment right to do so."[2] An online publisher or hosting service may yield to informal government pressure, or simply decide to sever a relationship that brings bad publicity.
I might not have objected to what he inserted, had it been in addition to the relevant statemnts, not replacing them:
This is not the view of most political commentators, independent of the US establishment. For example, OpenDemocracy baldly state: "At approximately 6pm on Wednesday, Amazon ousted wikileaks.org from its servers after concerted and aggressive political pressure from America’s Homeland Security Committee". [3]
Again, I chuckle at the thought that EFF is part of the US establishment. Most US news media say the "concerted and aggressive political pressure" was an inquiry from a staff member of Sen. Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. It is unclear to me, however, how any US law was broken if a corporation decided that it was in its own business interest to enforce a contract provision. I have written extensively here on cloud computing, and I mention, also in my advice to my cloud computing clients, that best practices call for having alternatives to a single cloud. In this case, since EC2 is an IaaS service, that is the easiest sort of service from which to migrate to a competitor; the interfaces are much cleaner. EC2, Rackspace, and other competitors all have had major outages, although their service is improving. Nevertheless, I routinely tell my clients it is wise to have a second service available, since one essentially pays for resources only when they are used.
In other words, Martin removed a statement that was objective -- Amazon's position -- and also removed the statement of an independent information security and privacy organization that warned about the risks of such service. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:25, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Origins Section

Again, I fail to see why Martin considers that which was removed as biased, unless the only thing not considered bias is a paean of praise to Assange. The section begins with material from Assange's own biography, and then mentions matters of public record about his conviction in Australian courts. It continues with a letter to Daniel Ellsberg from Wikileaks, released by John Young, a secrecy critic and no friend of the US establishment.

The introduction concludes with sourced observations from a UK journalist.

What am I missing here? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:30, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

The emphasis and tone are all wrong. The whole section needs to be rethought, rather than sounding like a litany of complaints about Assange. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:20, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
The reality is that there are a great many complaints about Assange, going back to his adolescence. I shall try to find some statements of support for him, but the beginning is largely public record.
I shall also be sure to emphasize the links to hacking and ethical hacking, since he claims that philosophy is one of his motivations.
The Guardian reporter seemed fair. Certainly, the commentary from John Young and Steven Aftergood are not from blind believers in the US government. Young was releasing documents when Assange was in puberty. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:46, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Difficulty in working on article=

Since so much was removed from the introduction, including the first appearance of certain key sources, it's rather difficult to edit anything else until it is restored, even in modified form.

Alas, I still don't know what is supposed to be so biased? Assange's own writings? His Australian court record? The Wikileaks letter to Ellsberg?

Perhaps someone else may want to restore it. The only thing I could think was remotely biased was the UK journalist comment. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:40, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

See my editorial guidance at the top of this page. if you don't see the bias, then you will have to discuss with those of us who do. It is not my intention to stop work on the article, which is topical and of great importance. What I do want is that it conforms to CZ standards and should be better (not worse) than the WP article. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:31, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Again, who is "us"? Nick, Sandy and Mary don't seem to see massive bias. As a peer Politics editor, I reject your editorial guidance -- and I'm going to start ruling, as a Computers Editor, about deletions of technical material or comments of principally technical organizations such as the EFF. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:48, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
OK, this will be blanked and is another case for the Editorial Council to rule on. You have no expertise in this area, and I question your right to be an editor in the politics group anyway. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:39, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

No complaints and no threats. You don't know my expertise -- and you have demonstrated a significant lack of understanding of American politics.

Incidentally, I do not accept your assurances that this isn't personal. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:22, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Bald statement in need of a hairpiece

After Martin deleted the Amazon and other policy statements, he inserted:

This is not the view of most political commentators, independent of the US establishment. For example, OpenDemocracy baldly state: "At approximately 6pm on Wednesday, Amazon ousted wikileaks.org from its servers after concerted and aggressive political pressure from America’s Homeland Security Committee". [4]

What is the antecedent of "This"? If it is the Amazon statement, how can "this" make sense in the article? I'm inclined to restore this piece only for readability. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:47, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Sanger statements?

Rational Wiki has a section on our founder's comments on Wikileaks. I am not certain Larry is important enough in this context to need mention in the article, but it seemed worth mentioning here. The comments were on Twitter which is blocked in China so I cannot verify them without taking more trouble than I am willing to. Sandy Harris 15:11, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Other attacks on Wikileaks' operatios

The information on Paypal is useful.

Unsourced statements that "independent analysts" criticize this are non-neutral and not informative. Please source this or I will remove it. Further, while I recognize that organizations or analysts outside the US may object to it, in what way is US government pressure on a US government company in violation of what universal law? Howard C. Berkowitz 17:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

i am not going to collect all the press reports and list them, This is not WP. So just leave that as it is. if you wish to do original research and document who is saying what, feel free to do so, but it is not needed. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:16, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Massive deletion of legal actions

There was yet another massive deletion in the section on legal issues, without any discussion. It included a statement by the U.S. Secretary of Defense suggesting that reaction had been overly dramatic.

Is it neutral to be continuing to delete seemingly anything said by US sources? I think not. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:09, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Since there is no legal action against wikileaks (and only allegations of personal criminal offence by its founder) I renamed the section. If you want to re-insert the material please put it in a logical context and not legal actions when there is no legal action. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:18, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
I shall restore it as "Government Action", not US because there is Swedish, UK, and French activity. That you may disagree with them does not make them less real. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:23, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

There is no legal action against Wikileaks, Howard. If you find any, you may insert it, otherwise not. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:31, 4 December 2010 (UTC)


A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail constables@citizendium.org. It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

Article locked

I've locked the article temporarily to allow a more reasoned approach. D. Matt Innis 18:56, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Constable Comment 2

From what I can tell, there are two Political Editors on this page, Howard and Martin. It looks like we'll need to develop some ground rules. Hang in there while we work through the details. D. Matt Innis 19:18, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Might I also observe that there are Computers aspects as well? I've seen this article as dealing more with the leaks, disclosures, and immediate actions; I'm all in favor of separate articles dealing with political impact, as well as having the material go into articles on the relevant countries or other subjects.
While Sandy Harris is not a Computers Editor, he is, in my opinion, an expert on the security and privacy issues involved -- they are particular interests to both of us. I listen carefully to Sandy when he says I'm wrong -- and also when he thinks are right. Most of the deletions were political, but there were a few dealing, for example, with Amazon's cloud computing service.
As far as I know, the only other active Politics Editor is Roger Lohmann, who would be welcome. Russell is History only. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:29, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

I've emailed and left messages for the ME and OMB. D. Matt Innis 19:47, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

This is actually like a replay of the Mengele article, and Howard's refusal to accept guidance on CZ neutrality policy. I do not accept that it is a personal dispute, and welcome the role of the Ombudsman (whose intervention was rejected by Howard in the previous case). Furthermore, the whole structure and emphasis of the article is not acceptable in academic terms: it is inchoate and has no logical format. i suggested at the top of this page that the structure needs to be addressed, and nobody has bothered to do so. In my view, the article should be blanked and we start again (with access to the previously used materials). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:02, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Preliminary ME ruling

I am on the road and cannot look at all the details at the moment, so I just rule that both Howard and Martin should not edit the article for 48h from now. They can suggest changes via this talk page, and others are invited to transfer these suggestions as they see fit. --Daniel Mietchen 01:15, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

How appropriate -- we have access again on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. :-)

Current status

There are two editors on this page that are giving opposite orders, so we have to wait for editorial guidance. Meanwile, the article remains open for editing as usual for those able to author and edit. Please keep all comments professional and related to content. Thanks in advance for your efforts! D. Matt Innis 14:02, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

So it's not lost

U.S. government denial it is taking direct technical action against Wikileaks] I have no opinion as to the truth of this, and note that it focuses on technical actions, not requests to private companies to take action. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:50, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Paypal cuts off donations account. Sandy Harris 22:03, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Would me rewriting help?

I am tempted to rewrite the whole thing, starting from Howard's full text and taking Martin's comments into account. I could do that either in article space, once it is unlocked, or in my own sandbox. I have done this sort of rewrite before, on Memory of water and Homeopathy and written what I think are neutral articles on controversial topics, such as cypherpunk and FreeSWAN, where I myself am an active partisan.

However, this would not be a reasonable undertaking unless the main disputants are willing to leave me to it for a while — Howard to hold off from writing more and Martin from deletions. It also might not solve the problem, and arguably it would involve me intruding on questions that should be left to editors and/or the ombudsman. Any comment, gentleman? Sandy Harris 23:23, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

This article is much to important to leave locked. I like this idea. Sandy has proven himself to be able to author neutrally on complicated subjects. I will give this a try and unlock this page. D. Matt Innis 23:35, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm more than willing to let Sandy have crack at it. If you like, Sandy, I can send you material that I've found, but I won't put it into the article. As appropriate, I'll give you talk page feedback. I'm not sure if any version is really consistent, but I've tried to put most together in User: Howard C. Berkowitz/WL, but there are some missing items -- it has, I think, 37 footnotes and there were 40 at one point. I would have welcomed your input at any time.
May we discuss the role of this article and related ones? I see this one as staying close to the Wikileaks operation itself. It would be a separate article that would discuss the international effects, at the necessary high level, of the disclosures. Some of the disclosed material bears on specific articles as well, such as Iranian nuclear program.
I think we look at legality and outrage in a similar manner: any such comments need to be sourced. Are you familiar with some of the SIPRNET implementation problems that may have contributed? The irony here is that I'm not overly partisan on the matter. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:47, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
No, I really haven't a clue about the internals of US security systems. Probably, though, this article need not cover those in any detail, just mention & wikilink. Somewhere we need to discuss general questions about the tendency to over-classify things just to protect functionaries' butts, but I do not think either this article or the SIPRTNET one is the place for that. Not sure where it might go.
I do have some background on related stuff, cypherpunks, EFF, Cryptome, ... Sandy Harris 00:40, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
With SIPRNET, which is a network rather than an administrative system, I was thinking of a question many have raised: how was it possible to download so much? Now, some of this is personal background, but one questionable assumption made for the main classified networks, SIPRNET and JWICS, is that because they were physically isolated and accessible only to cleared people, they didn't need as many internal controls as did the unclassified networks. That meant they may not have had network intrusion detection systems, traffic-sensitive firewalls, or similar safeguards against implausibly large file transfers. There was little controls over USB drives and the like.
A little further afield but on the same issue of how there was so much access, allegedly by a low-ranking individual, rank doesn't necessarily have much to do with access. Indeed, a communications clerk might need more volume than a colonel. Classifying to protect butts probably belongs most in classified information.
The wide access given also was an attempt to avoid stovepiping. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:06, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

No, I do not accept this solution. i want the article blanked, a proper framework sorted out which is independent of what has been written there before, and I want some discussion on the Talk page of what and why things will be covered. Furthermore, the claim that this is about US politics is disgraceful. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 07:43, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Certainly to claim that WikiLeaks is solely about US politics would be absurd, but I do not think anyone is claiming that. It would also be absurd to deny that many of the documents they have released are of US origin and some are seriously embarrassing to the US government. Certainly many US political figures have commented, with a range of reactions from approval (including from right-wing arch-curmudgeon Rush Limbaugh, which puzzles me) to public calls for assassination. Even Larry Sanger has commented rather forcefully, see #Sanger_statements.3F above.
It definitely should not be the main focus of the article, but I think US reaction is important and deserves a substantial section. Alternately, I suppose it could move to a separate article and just be wiki-linked from here. I'm not sure I like that idea, but it might be worth considering. Sandy Harris 10:29, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't disagree that US reaction is important, but it is not the main focus. The topic involves all governments of the world, and they are active in trying to close down Wikileaks and/or kill Assange. This is an issue of global concern, and is now more about politics and diplomacy than internet things as such. It is a major issue of our time, and needs to be addressed properly. That requires collaboration rather than childish confrontation. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:26, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
If you want to make the effort, Sandy, then it may be in vain, but it cannot hurt if you try a rewrite in your userspace. Whatever happens with the article (additions, deletions, blanking, protecting), you will always have access to the current version via the history. --Peter Schmitt 12:10, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
No. Without agreement from both the main disputants, I'm not going to make that effort. There are other, quite likely better, ways to move toward resolution — talk page discussion, calling in other editors, perhaps the ombudsman. I may edit some on this article, or comment further on the talk page, but my guess is that my time might be better used on related articles, like Cryptome. Sandy Harris 13:00, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Another strange angle

The Register, a UK-based news site with an emphasis on technology, reports that "the White House told federal employees and contractors they're not allowed to read classified federal documents posted to WikiLeaks unless they have the proper security clearance." Sandy Harris 10:59, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

And another: AP reports under the head "Respected media outlets collaborate with WikiLeaks" that "the group is releasing only a trickle of documents at a time from a trove of a quarter-million, and only after considering advice from five news organizations with which it chose to share all of the material." WL released to four, in France, Spain, Germany and the UK. The Guardian shared the material with the New York Times, so now there are five papers involved. Sandy Harris 20:24, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Washington Post on defects in US management of secret information.[1] Sandy Harris 23:02, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

blog analysis with extensive quotes from, and links to, a theoretical paper by Assange, sort of a Wikileaks manifesto. Sandy Harris 05:49, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

The book Assange is credited as researcher for, linked in removed text above, is available online. Sandy Harris 06:14, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Assange has been arrested in London. based on Swedish warrants. [2] Sandy Harris 13:22, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Can't even get the name right

Wikipedia calls it WikiLeaks, Rush Limbaugh calls it WikiLeaks, so why is CZ calling it Wikileaks? Ro Thorpe 13:30, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Good point. The whole article is poorly conceived and unfocused, not to mention biased. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:52, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Just noticed that the Good Grey (or Gray, I dunno) Lady, The New York Times, in all its splendor, is also calling it WikiLeaks in the several million words per days that it has been publishing about it for the last week or so. Hayford Peirce 16:22, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

The site itself uses WikiLeaks [3], though of course the domain name as shown by a browser is all lowercase, wikileaks.ch now and formerly wikileaks.org. Sandy Harris 06:18, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

The Guardian as well, as shown in Martin's quote below. I have moved the article. Sandy Harris 07:29, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Global internet issues

WikiLeaks: Internet backlash follows US pressure against whistleblowing site: Individuals redirecting parts of their own sites to Swedish internet host amid 'censorship' The Guardian 5 Dec 2010 Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:52, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

"WikiLeaks received a boost tonight when Switzerland rejected growing international calls to force the site off the internet.

The whistleblowers site, which has been publishing leaked US embassy cables, was forced to switch domain names to WikiLeaks.ch yesterday after the US host of its main website, WikiLeaks.org, pulled the plug following mounting political pressure.

The site's new Swiss registrar, Switch, today said there was "no reason" why it should be forced offline, despite demands from France and the US. Switch is a non-profit registrar set up by the Swiss government for all 1.5 million Swiss .ch domain names.

The Guardian 4 Dec 2010 Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:58, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

There seems be some confusion here. The fact that WikiLeaks has revealed conduct that is deemed to be reprehensible is not a valid defence for breaches of trust, nor is the fact that its author is being attacked by means that are deemed reprehensible. The consequences of a general breakdown of trust remain - and to ignore them would involve a serious and dangerous bias. Nick Gardner 08:39, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Nick there is no confusion here. You seem not to understand CZ policy (like Howard). Your (and my) personal opinions should not be too evident from any articles we prepare. This article is heavily biased, and your comments are as well. The phenomenon of wikileaks is highly complex, legally ambiguous and with massive ramifications (I think) for future world governance. You do not have to like or dislike their actions to see that. What is required is to set out a framework of relevant facts and analysis, different views of the issues, and produce a scholarly article. This current mess is closer to a dog's dinner than to a scholarly article. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:47, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
The phrase "questionable public value" in the current lede is an example of what I mean by bias. Any unbiassed assessment of the relative costs and benefits of a breakdowm of trust would conclude that it imposes a net cost. Nick Gardner 10:02, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, Howard has just reported others in that. Your comment that it is a net cost is a short-run analysis; I am open to the argument that in the medium to long term there will be benefits as well as costs. It is also very ambiguous whose trusts have been broken with these leaks: the extent is massive. However, the major issue is whether a restructuring of diplomatic messaging and behaviour will benefit the world, and indeed if we have already benefited from clear evidence that western governments engage systematically in criminal activity. That cannot be answered in other than speculative terms, at this time. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:25, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
The phrase "questionable public value" amounts to a failure to admit the possibility that there may be a downside. I do not suggest that the article should assert the existence of a net cost - only that the possibility should not be ignored. The phrase should be amended to remove its bias. Nick Gardner 11:04, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Ombudsman

It's been suggested that I might take a look here. Would that be welcomed?Gareth Leng 17:29, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, given that the principal author is apparently not prepared to revise the structure and content, that would be helpful. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:28, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
First, I should mention that my desktop computer power supply failed last night, and I'm using a borrowed laptop. The other house desktop is also down. If I can find a 24-to-20 pin power supply adapter locally, I have spare supplies, but my access may be reduced for a few days -- I may have to have a new supply shipped.
Second, it is a lie that the principal author is unwilling to revise structure and content. In fact, before the principal author came under attack for neutrality, he was continuing to improve the article.
There is one Editor who is complaining about neutrality, but without specifics. Comments such as "outrageous" and "disgraceful" hardly are neutral.
Reasonable "gentle guidance" would not consist of generic objections, but a proposed structural outline and specific complaints. I would also observe that there are logically several articles:
  • The formation of Wikileaks, its early activities (it's been active for a while) and the nature of the downloads, interference with its website, etc. That will be an article of quite adequate and growing size.
  • The effects, internationally, of the two major document releases -- probably two articles since they differ in focus (military vs. diplomatic) and the reality that no single article can deal with tens of thousands of documentsw
  • Perhaps updates to the SIPRNET article giving more information on how the leaks physically could have happened.
  • Updates to subject-specific articles affected by the contents of disclosures (e.g., Iranian nuclear program)
  • If someone wants to write it, specifics of how the intelligence collection requirements do or do not violate treaties. There will be different viewpoints, and it must be specific -- not just "it's illegal and immoral" but "it violates clause XXX of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations"
Now, the Ombudsman might help. From my perspective, there are some ground rules. First, the threat of unilateral blanking of the article must stop. No individual Editor has the authority to do that.
Second, attacks on neutrality have to be reasonably specific, and also consider that a given point might belong in a related article. I would be open to a proposal for a set of articles, but things like DNS attacks and political fallout are not logically part of the same article.
Third, there must be some realism about claims of pro- vs. anti-American bias. Steven Aftergood, John Young, and Daniel Ellsberg are hardly advocates of U.S. secrecy, yet their comments on Wikileaks were deleted without explanation. Sourced direct quotes of U.S. officials or commentators simply identify players in the situation; they are not being proposed with any text suggesting they are right. There was a quote from Wikileaks own site in the lede, as well as from Assange's own books. I'm not sure what the bias is supposed to be.
Wikileaks.com is the domain name. By all means, someone who wants to can redirect WikiLeaks to the article, and put WikiLeaks in the lede, but I am forbidden from doing so. Domain names are case insensitive.
Gareth, this is not the first case where Martin unilaterally blanked, and then made vague accusations of neutrality violation. That is neither collaborative nor fair. It has to be agreed that we are both Politics Editors and have equal authority -- and I certainly don't think I have the authority to blank any article other than pure vandalism. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:18, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I suggest that, as ombudsman, you might take account of the possibility that authors and editors not involved in this dispute may be experiencing dismay and revulsion over the manner in which it is being conducted. Nick Gardner 08:48, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
That is very simply because Howard does not conform to CZ policy and makes everything into a political show -- playing to the Gallery. I will not suppress my very strong condemnation of this disgrace of an article, just because people think it makes CZ look bad. If you want to avoid conflicts, advise Howard to learn how to collaborate and admit when he is wrong. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:50, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Ombudsman intervention

I too am dismayed at the way in which this debate is being conducted, not least because the serious issues are being obscured.

Some good news is that people here care about neutrality and objectivity. More good news is that none of us are likely to be assassinated by Sarah Palin if we get it wrong (or even if we get it right). But the debate is approaching the level of bitterness that is typical of serious (and trivial) disputes between academics. The sadness is that we usually go for a drink after and that's not so easy here.

I'm accepting that this engages serious issues, including issues of article policy (objectivity) and of community policy (how to conduct debates in a collegial manner, and the role of editors and the constabulary). I'm also accepting that, despite possible appearances to the contrary, all participants are solely motivated by sincere and deeply held views and a wish to see Citizendium flourish.

I'm calling a freeze on this article and discussions at the Talk page, to give me (and everyone else) time to take stock. I'll set up discussion page(s) on the Ombudsman space in due course, when I've had a chance to digest and summarise the issues. I'll let you know here when that's done; I'll try and be reasonably quick - but I have other calls on my time, and a pause for reflection here won't hurt. The steam from WikiLeaks may need a bit of time to condense anyway.

For now then, this discussion and this article are frozen while I try to sift and separate the issues it engages.Gareth Leng 10:56, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Invitation to comment

I've made a preliminary characterisation of the content issues on CZ Talk:Ombudsman. Comments/corrections on that are invited there before I make an interim ruling on content matters. Other (behaviour) issues I'll take separately.Gareth Leng 17:22, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Rational Wiki article

Rational Wiki has a reasonable article. I've already borrowed one quote from it, though I was able to source it where they didn't. There may be more we can use. Sandy Harris 02:26, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Reflecting on this article

Remember that this article is about Wikileaks, which has been in existence for several years, and that the article, before the recent large diplomatic leaks and the somewhat earlier military mass leak, dealt with Wikileaks before that. The two really large leaks, perhaps, should be linked subarticles. Don't lose sight of Wikileaks' history, especially the early interaction with Aftergood, Young and Ellsberg. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:28, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Balance

I propose to raise objections to any drafting that refers to the benefits from WikiLeaks but does not give adequate weight to the offsetting practical consequences of promoting theft. Nick Gardner 08:36, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree that we need to be very, very careful to explain without the appearance of advocating any position. D. Matt Innis 13:35, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks to Peter Schmitt for deleting the offending sentence. Its retention - even if temporary - was doing serious damage to Citizendium's claim to be unbiassed. Nick Gardner 07:02, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

WikiLeaks; Content issues (moved here from Ombudsman Talk page)

WikiLeaks is a draft article, ostensibly about a website, but inevitably engaging in a highly controversial topic of wide importance. The issue is how to approach this in a way that is objective and scholarly. The dispute engages two different visions of Citizendium; should all articles be "a collaborative effort to collect, structure, and cultivate knowledge" according to principles of academic scholarship? Or are some articles better as a detailed, annotated log of significant events and opinions? Two editors adopt different positions; to one, the second position is flawed; it cannot produce a coherent, objective and neutral commentary. To the other, a log of events and opinions is valuable and informative, can be objective in the sense of avoiding an editorial tone, and can be neutral by ensuring balance in the selection of quotes and events.

The first editor asserts that academic objectivity requires a structured approach to the issues, and that extensive use of quotes subverts that process. Specifically, this editor feels that the article at present takes a “US-centric approach” by characterising the issues from the perspective of US interests, and expanding the article to encompass all other perspectives would make it chaotic. By his view, the better, academically objective approach might be more to look at the global significance of WikiLeaks, and to structure the article (for example) by characterising the issues of principle involved: freedom of speech; freedom of information; the roles and responsibilities of a free press in a liberal democracy; Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?; the need to hold governments accountable; how governments operate and the rights of the governed to know that; how these things are balanced by threats to individual liberty or national security; the impact that open disclosure may have on the quality of government etc. etc.

Any selection of quotes or events on such a hot and divisive issues is likely to be contentious. The second editor has portrayed a broad spread of opinion in his selection of quotes – but at present the article solely addresses the perceived impact on US interests - i.e. they are opinions (positive and negative) about the impact of WikiLeaks as it concerns the US, or they engage in discussion of the particular organisational aspects of WikiLeaks, but do not directly address the fundamental issues of ethos and principle.

Past WikiLeaks disclosures have for example included publishing the BNP membership list, with no direct US interests engaged; but even disclosures of US diplomatic information engage not only US interests but global interests. They, for example, engage issues between Saudi Arabia and Iran - and whether disclosing those matters is in the global public interest is separate from the issue of whether disclosure is in the US interests. It might (or might not) be that disclosing that is in the long term interests of peace, but not in short-term US diplomatic interests.

The WikiLeaks disclosures even before the latest episode were far reaching and controversial. The volume of disclosed material is massive. This article cannot attempt to log all significant disclosures and discuss them all objectively by all their potential implications. There needs to be some basis for selecting what things to report; and one basis would be that those chosen best exemplify particular issues. That seems to require that the issues be first identified in an article roadmap.

It's a challenge. But first, have I got this account of the content dispute about right? Gareth Leng 17:17, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

It is a great challenge -- even for good social scientists -- so do not apologise for any omissions, Gareth. In broad terms it is correct. I should like to add, though, that the original article -- before I started deleting things -- had an almost prurient focus on the early life of the Wikileaks founder, Assange. I am not opposed to some mention of it, but -- as with other disputes -- it is the context and implied meaning of this material that is of concern. It read to me (and you should check the original draft in hte history) something like the typical accounts of the early life of Hitler -- a pyschopathological portrait of a social deviant. Given that this article -- according to its principal author -- is supposed to be about the institution of Wikileaks, I question the inclusion of such materials. I also question absolutely the claim that the activities of WikiLeaks are peripheral to the institution itself: its whole raison d'etre is to publish confidential materials, so how can its activities be other than central? Finally, I do not think that swathes of detailed material about internet and computing issues are of any value in this article, other than the very recent issues involving domain names and ISPs and political interference in the right of Wikileaks to exist on the web. These are massive issues of internet governance that merit an article on its own, but have emerged for the first time (to my knowledge) in this case. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:48, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
No, I don't think so. I must apologize because I'm having computer problems and am writing this on a borrowed laptop, with limited access. First, there was no discussion, but massive deletions with nothing more specific than "violation of neutrality policy". Second, the initial writeup or additions slightly thereafter were addressed to the formation of Wikileaks, including correspondence with people other than Assange to Steven Aftergood, John Young, and Daniel Ellsberg, who happen to be Americans but have a worldwide reputation.
As a Computers Editor, which Martin is not, I believe the material on the denial of service are very relevant.
I have offered, repeatedly, to have multiple articles on this subject. With hundreds of thousands of articles, no single article can cover all the issues. For example, I could write on the military documents, something Martin is hardly qualified to do. I have no objection to a separate article on the international political aspects. It does not seem helpful, however, to bring sincere work on the first article to a halt, because it does not meet the expectations of one individual. Note that Nick and Sandy suggested the article was not biased, but incomplete, and was becoming more incomplete before Martin caused all work to stop. Martin would not agree to Sandy's proposal to rewrite. As far as status, Martin and I are both Politics Editors, although he keeps attacking my competence in politics. He does not have special status to blank articles or to control the work of others.
Gareth, would you please send me an email, simply so I can have your address? That's on the broken computer. I will be able to respond in more depth when I go to the public library this afternoon and have more time at the keyboard.
...said Howard C. Berkowitz (talk)

I do not think presentation of views should be done by email, unless the material is posted here. Much of Gareth's commentary on my views is "reading between the lines" and connecting dots in what is a disjoined and confrontational discourse. He has done a very good job with that, however. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:14, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I asked for Gareth's email simply because I don't have it; don't presume what I will or will not send him. I do plan to start an outline of several related articles on this topic, and also begin notes on how some of the documents disclosed affect existing articles such as Iranian nuclear program and Afghanistan War (2001-).
As there are significant Internet issues in this article, Computers expertise is relevant. I'd suggest another Computers editor experienced in Internet governance (Pat comes to mind) be involved, or Authors who are expert (Sandy and Dave McQuigg, for example). There is also a significant Military component, as Wikileaks did not start with the recent disclosures; it has been leaking military documents since 2006-2007 (my notes aren't at hand), and certainly a major military release earlier this year. Indeed, Wikileaks is not the only source of major military disclosures for various countries. With the US, I mention the Pentagon Papers, and with Israel, the leaks from Mordechai Vanunu and Victor Ostrovsky. Other intelligence disclosures, specifically addressing information from embassies, include Peter Wright (Spycatcher) for the UK and "Victor Suvorov (pseud.)" for the Soviet Union, especially Inside the Aquarium. There are a number of relevant articles in the human-source intelligence, signals intelligence, and measurement and signature intelligence hierarchies. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:16, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
OK. I propose that my summary above be placed on the Talk page as a summary of the dispute and as a guide to help the evolution of a plan for an objective Main article. I suggest that Howard outlines a plan of related articles on the Related Articles page of WikiLeaks, and moves relevant material from the main article to those as he begins them. Any comments before I finalise that?Gareth Leng 09:41, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

(undent) Should we unlock the article? D. Matt Innis 00:29, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

The EC is discussing a motion on this issue [4]. --Peter Schmitt 01:43, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
The article appears to be unlocked. I edited it today. Sandy Harris
Yes, I guess I should have said, "Should we keep it unlocked?" D. Matt Innis 03:54, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

In the comments on the EC motion, Aleta says "Sandy Harris has demonstrated a facility with neutral writing, which in my view qualifies him to do the writing, but he is not a subject expert. This article desperately needs one (or two or five)." She's right, of course. I actually am a subject expert on some aspects of this, the technical Internet and cryptography issues, and the origins of some of the ideas in cypherpunk thinking. However, this is a rather complex topic and experts in several other areas are needed. Moreover, it is highly controversial so much discussion on point-of-view may be required.

I've started a rewrite at User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks. Several sections are horribly incomplete as yet, but a structure is visible. Comment is invited; I am not sure if it should go here or at User_talk:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks. Sandy Harris 08:03, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

An Editorial Council member will help out

Peter Schmitt of the Editorial Council has volunteered to lend his skills to the on-going rewriting and restructuring of the article. I know that he will do the job superbly. The EC Secretary, Hayford Peirce 17:52, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I think I am done. User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks is more-or-less complete and about as good as I am likely to make it. The only large gap I am aware of is that the section on US diplomatic cables needs considerable expansion to indicate what those cables revealed. I'd say my current version could just be dropped into main space as it is, then improved from there.
Comment from Peter seems essential. I'd encourage comment from others. Sandy Harris 07:19, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
There are also a few missing citations and somehow I lost some of Howard's text, about repercussion of the diplomatic cables leaks in other countries. That should go back in and be expanded. Sandy Harris 13:50, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

It seems that I must reiterate my objection to the sentence

WikiLeaks has been praised for breaking information on scandals, but also criticized for revealing information that is personal or otherwise of questionable public value.

It is biassed, and therefore a breach of CZ policy, because it ignores the criticisms of those who claim that WikiLeaks does public damage. Unless that omission is either justified or repaired, the sentence must be deleted. Nick Gardner 14:55, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

I've already changed that sentence and rewritten the paragraph around it. Sandy Harris 15:20, 10 December

2010 (UTC)

I've just reloaded WikiLeaks, and the sentence is unchanged. Nick Gardner 15:36, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you looking at the current article, which is indeed unchanged, or my draft at User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks which should show many changes? Sandy Harris 15:42, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
My only concern is the breach of our policy against bias in the version presented to the public. Nick Gardner 17:19, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Not speaking as EC member

First, Sandy, while I know I didn't retrieve everything, a fairly good copy (37 out of 40 footnotes) is at User: Howard C. Berkowitz/WL.

Nick and Sandy, perhaps I can start to help on the balance question. There's a quote from Steven Aftergood, who is an authority on the U.S. classification system and how it needs to be reformed -- and has leaked. He points out that it is not at all clear to him what Wikileaks is trying to do in terms of being antiwar, etc. On the other hand, I'm not sure we mention that the Hacker Ethic "information wants to be free" is mentioned as a possible motivator.

We might start on this gently -- see the fairly new article on government secrecy, and emphasize the effects of disclosure vs. secrecy, and such things as the exercise of diplomacy. While I don't have Henry Kissinger's textbook of diplomacy at hand, he is very eloquent on the need of some leaders to say things in public that their domestic constituencies want to hear. With Sukarno, for example, he'd defy the West, and then talk seriously in private. I'm not sure if Sarah Palin knows the difference. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:50, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

I have Kissinger's book on my shelf and could dig for quotes if need be. --Daniel Mietchen 22:44, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
Look for his discussion of the bureaucratic-pragmatic, bureaucratic-ideological, and ideological-charismatic negotiating style. He uses Sukarno as the case study of the third. We could even use lemmas or stubs on those three styles; if you'll get the quotes, I'll finish up -- they could link to his ideas in realism (foreign policy). Thanks! Howard C. Berkowitz 17:42, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Editorial Council has made a decision about this article

The EC has now made a formal decision regarding this matter. Please see: http://ec.citizendium.org/wiki/EC-D-2010-007 The Secretary of the EC, Hayford Peirce 17:28, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

I have a draft at User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks. It is fairly complete, I think ready to go into main space. Associated discussion at User_talk:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks.
I'm in China. This is my last week at work before a major holiday; there are things to finish at work, then the vacation. I will not be doing any significant CZ work earlier than late February.
Peter has been doing some copy edits, which is OK, but I'd prefer no-one else edit in my user space and even Peter be cautious. Put the thing in main space and everyone can have a go. Sandy Harris 06:48, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Hayford, the link above to the decision is dead. Where do I find that decision so I can decide whether to replace the page with Sandy's version? D. Matt Innis 02:59, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Matt, this is a consequence of the recent move by Dan et al to the new server. I've had to rewrite a gazillion links here and there but I will never be able to change all of them. Try this one, it should work. And I can show you how to correct in the future. Or just check the History and compare here, and you'll see what I did. Hayford Peirce 04:07, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I see how you did it. I can take it from there when I see others. Thanks! D. Matt Innis 04:17, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay, it looks like the EC is the one to decide when it is ready to put back in, Sandy. D. Matt Innis 04:18, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I haven't been following this for a while, but I would think that if it took an EC decision to move it earlier, we're going to have to have another formal EC decision to move it back. So someone is going to have to make a formal Request or Proposal to the EC at some point. Hayford Peirce 04:25, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
We don't need to be up-to-the-minute with this, but we do need to present verified material or at least properly attributed. Since the info is going to change periodically, we'll need to be able to edit it often. Maybe we can let discussions evolve on the talk page, but perhaps allow Sandy to make all the edits for awhile. Something like that. I am sure the EC can come up with something that produces good, sound, quality content. D. Matt Innis 04:30, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

[undent] Hayford is correct that "someone is going to have to make a formal Request or Proposal to the EC at some point." I think that someone must be Peter, the EC member appointed to act as editor on this. Others can comment, even suggest that it is ready (as I have suggested) or that it needs revision, but any formal proposal should come from Peter. Sandy Harris 05:08, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

I have finished reading Sandy's revised article and, as far as I can tell, it deals with all important aspects in a sufficiently balanced way.
I propose to move it back into mainspace, probably best by merging it with the mainpage. If the pages are not merged, Howard's version should be moved to a talk page archive.
After that, this talk page should be archived. The talk page to Sandy's page should be moved to another archive.
As for the main article: I suggest to replace the section on attacks by a short reference to attacks and counter-attacks and move the details to a separate article -- it is mainly of technical interest. I also suggest to move the detailed history section to another page.
I do not think that a formal EC decision is needed as long as there are no strong objections demanding such a decision.
--Peter Schmitt 10:49, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
The decision linked above states: The Editorial Council will decide when the page is ready to be moved back to mainspace.
I hate to be such a stickler about such details, but I'll need some guidelines as well. For instance, who will be allowed to edit this page once it is returned? I'm thinking I do need the EC to decide (at least that Peter is in charge). D. Matt Innis 13:49, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Speaking as the EC Secretary, I think Matt is entirely right on this (without saying that anyone else is wrong, I simply haven't bothered to read any of the details) -- our decision clearly says that the EC will decide when the page is ready to be moved back. I think that it can be construed from our decision that Peter is the EC's delegate in this matter. If Peter, therefore, gives the EC a *detailed* suggestion for what he thinks should be done with the article, incorporating, say, all of the steps he outlines above, then I think the EC would be able to take a simple vote on the matter: "Do we order that Peter's steps be implemented or not? Yes or No, no discussions about modifying his steps in any way -- Peter is now the expert on the matter and why should we try to tell him what to do?" Time isn't really of the essence here, but there's no sense in extending the matter *another* couple of weeks, either. Hayford Peirce 15:08, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Certainly sounds like a reasonable solution. If Peter can be selected according to Article 35.3 (The EC shall be empowered to appoint delegates to perform specific tasks for a specific period of time (not more than two years) provided that the responsibility for the actions of a delegate shall always remain with the appointing Council) with the specific responsibility for providing specific guidelines that would apply for this article (at least), I could then act on his (and the EC's) behalf. That would be workable for me and we can then continue the productive discourse that will eventually make this a great addition to our works. Additionally, Peter would be answerable to the EC for any of his decsions, but still be required to act professionally here. D. Matt Innis 15:40, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, let's stipulate that Peter has *already* been selected according to Article 35.3 -- does anyone *object* to stipulating that? No, I don't hear anyone objecting. I will therefore direct Peter to present his conclusions to the Council. And we'll then take a speedy vote on it. Hayford Peirce 16:53, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
LOL, well, that's good enough for me! You can argue the details with the six EC members if they have an issue. I will follow Peter's direction from now on. I will begin as treating him as a lead editor on this page. Maybe we can actually put the EC Workgroup in the metadata template. Interesting idea at least. Peter, would you like me to merge the two articles? D. Matt Innis 17:13, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
As requested, I have made a Report, see the EC wiki. --Peter Schmitt 00:15, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
As Sec. of the EC, I have asked Matt, the Chief Constable, as to whether he thinks the Council needs to have a formal vote on the acceptance of Peter's report. Hayford Peirce 01:25, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I am glad to accept Hayford's call that the EC will be fine with the procedure that has resulted in Peter's report. I am sure that, should there be a problem among EC members, they will settle it among themselves. Meanwhile, we can move forward on this article. Peter, I will move the article, but I'd feel better if you create the archived talk pages in the vision that you see best. D. Matt Innis 02:43, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Something to add

Strong criticism about effects in Zimbabwe. Sandy Harris 13:40, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

See also thisGareth Leng 09:19, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

European politicians resisting US gov't privacy intrusions. [5] Sandy Harris 13:50, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

The plot thickens. Swiss banker to release records of tax evading politicians? We really need to get this article online. D. Matt Innis 18:12, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Possible sources:

international research links, by country]Gareth Leng 10:10, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Article is open to editing

In accordance with Peter Schmitt's EC report, this article is open to editing. I am considering Peter Schmitt as having editor type status, along with the other editors on this page, for the purpose of assisting in solving content disputes. Please remain professional throughout and lets build the most comprehensive, objective and neutral article on this subject. D. Matt Innis 02:57, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Tunnel vision?

The article fails to acknowledge the fact that every leak is the product of a broken promise. It debates the current consequences of Wikileaks' revelations, but ignores the future consequences of encouraging people to default on their promises. Thus it directs the reader's attention upon its transitory effects, and away from its lasting effects upon human conduct. Nick Gardner 07:17, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
  1. Keir Thomas (2 December 2010), "Amazon's Wikileaks Rejection Raises Cloud Trust Concerns", PCWorld
  2. Rainey Reitman and Marcia Hofmann, Amazon and WikiLeaks - Online Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Intermediary, Electronic Frontier Foundation
  3. http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ryan-gallagher/wikileaks-truth-is-not-treason
  4. http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ryan-gallagher/wikileaks-truth-is-not-treason