Talk:WikiLeaks/Archive 2

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This is the talk page related to the revised version by Sandy Harris Jan. 18, 2011
that replaced the mainspace version (histories merged) (see Archive 1)


I am using text from wherever I can get it here, I copied in both the entire current article WikiLeaks and Howard's version User:Howard_C._Berkowitz/WL before I started to edit. As I go, I'm also looking at the Wikipedia and Rational Wiki articles. Sandy Harris 11:18, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Most of this is based on Howard's version. I found only one place where I considered his writing biased, a quote of EFF comments that I thought was taken out of context. I have replaced that with a fuller quote that gives the context.

I have also added quite a bit of my own material and borrowed things here and there. The section User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks#Afghanistan_War_logs is from Rational Wiki, though I both shortened it and toned down the rhetoric. There are sentences from Wikipedia's article here and there, mostly somewhat rewritten. Sandy Harris 05:36, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

I started from Howard's version and kept nearly all his text, though I re-ordered much of it and rewrote some. However, his version was about 32K and current is around 64K; I added quite a lot. Sandy Harris 02:48, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Draft is at User:Sandy_Harris/WikiLeaks.

Scope questions

There are a lot of questions about the appropriate scope for this article. I've aimed to make my draft a reasonably complete account of WikiLeaks, and I think I have it about right. However, there's certainly room for discussion, perhaps even debate.

My outline is noticeably different from that suggested by the Managing Editor at the top of the Talk:WikiLeaks page. I do not think most of the differences are particularly important; it is just that I've used a structure appropriate to the particular topic. However, other opinions are needed on this.

On one point, I differ significantly from an ME suggestion. He had

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

I have not done that, and do not think it should be done. I kept all of Howard's text on those, and expanded the Young and Ellsberg sections. To me, his seems essential background on WikiLeaks, an important part of the history. I did move them down the hierarchy of headings, though, making those three the subsections of a "looking for support" head which in turn is under "development".

Howard suggested on the same talk page "The two really large leaks, perhaps, should be linked subarticles." He may be right, though my guess is that both are large and important enough to have their own standalone articles eventually. However, I feel there should be at least a brief summary here because it is important to understanding WikiLeaks. I've done such a summary for the Afghan War logs and started one for the diplomatic cables. One of Martin's objections to Howard's original version was that it "has failed to mention the most outrageous revelations of the US government that have emerged from the leaks". I think these sections should answer that.

Comments? Sandy Harris 09:31, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

We are in violent agreement about "subarticles". I didn't mean subpages, but only things that are subarticles via Related Pages.
I don't see how anything starting with "outrageous" can possibly be objective or neutral. Most charitably, it's my opinion that Martin tends to judge things by a relatively recent (i.e., 1950-1980) concept of international law, and also assumes that said international law is accepted by and governs all countries. My view is more operational, both considering history, and considering military and intelligence activities. It is not for nothing that intelligence is sometimes called the "second oldest profession", certainly with espionage being discussed by Sun Tzu circa 400 BCE.
While I've probably read more of the military than the diplomatic documents, shall we say that (Claude Rains voice) that I was shocked, absolutely shocked, to find nations spy on each other, and that their diplomats say different things in public than in private? It is not unique to the US that diplomats provide support to the intelligence collectors; I can easily come up not with only US examples, but Soviet, Israeli, Cuban, UK, and French. Indeed, there were substantial disclosures of such things by Philip Agee, decades ago; the media impact of Wikileaks distinguishes it. Agee's, in fact, fairly clearly got people killed.
So, yes, there probably is a summary of the global impact of disclosures to be written, but, just as much, the specific topics belong in specific articles. The Arab reaction to an Iranian nuclear threat, and pressures on the US to take action, belong in Iranian nuclear program, as they are not specific to Wikileaks. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:17, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Related articles?

I have started Julian Assange, Cryptome, John Young (cryptome) and Anonymous (group) to eliminate red links here. All are pretty stub-ish so far. Any volunteers to expand them?

What else is needed by way or related articles? Cablegate and Collateral Murder should likely be redirects, but to what? Sandy Harris 10:17, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

I would hesitate to title anything "collateral murder", but use a more neutral, descriptive title: "(date) U.S. helicopter fire on civilians." Murder is a legal term and would be very hard to prove here, and I don't think Wikileaks would like "collateral manslaughter". See fratricide; perhaps we need collateral damage, which is more correct.
This may even be worth more discussion, because the earlier incident where they released the "collateral murder" accusations is an isolated case where it's very hard to claim objective journalism rather than activism. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:39, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
I would not use "collateral murder" as an article title. At one point, I had it as a section head in this article, but I've changed it. I do think the term should be used in the article, since it is what WL call one of their websites, and should exist as a redirect since someone might search for it.
Sure we need collateral damage, but it is at least debatable whether the term applies here, let alone whether it is "more correct".
I do not think WL "claim objective journalism rather than activism". They claim to be journalists, but they are also activists and proud of it. In any case, posting the actual military recordings of the incident is certainly objective, though their interpretation may not be. Sandy Harris 10:17, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
Sandy, I had meant to withdraw completely from this discussion, finding several people other than yourself clearly do not welcome my contribution, but I will try to add some technical information here. I don't think many military people, on a matter with no political implications, would consider a single video recording to be adequate to characterize events. It's a starting point, but, for example, the video system of a tank or helicopter has a fairly narrow field of view. It's one useful piece of information, but it does not provide full situational awareness. At the vary least, any objective investigation board in the military would also be reviewing the real-time position information (e.g., Blue Force Tracker), the audio logs or transcripts from the commander of the helicopter, any nearby fire incidents that would increase the threat level perceived by the crew, etc.
I have no opinion on the propriety of the attacks. Perhaps the crew should have been charged with war crime; perhaps it was a case of the fog of war; perhaps the responsibility may be in the specific orders (i.e., beyond rules of engagement) under which the helicopter was operating. My point is that the video alone is dramatic, but insufficient for an objective determination of why people died. As you point out, the interpretation may not be objective, and the data to make an objective interpretation isn't being presented. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:14, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
Misses the point. The point is that the Rules of Engagement permitted exactly what the video appears to show - the killing of people who were apparently unarmed and who were understood to be attempting to rescue a wounded person. Those actions were endorsed by the military as consistent with the Rules of Engagement - in that all males of military age offering assistance to presumed insurgents are legitimate targets regardless of whether they posed any visible threat. That fact was what the video revealed. Before the video was revealed the official statements were at best disingenuous (according to WiliLeaks "The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured. After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own "Rules of Engagement"." If true, this can be verified)Gareth Leng 19:15, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
It's not worth arguing about the points. Actually, there are numerous cases, generally different than this one, where the Laws of Land Warfare (well, many of the incidents were at sea) permitted cases where an apparently unarmed person was attempting to rescue a wounded individual. War is not pretty and does not always meet civilian expectations. See, for example, the successful defense of Karl Doenitz at Nuremberg that forbade any assistance to survivors of torpedoed vessels, based on the statement of Chester W. Nimitz that German submarines did not do anything that was not routine for American submarines and was inherent to unrestricted submarine warfare. Churchill ordered the preemptive shooting-down of German air-sea rescue aircraft over the English Channel, even if they sometimes picked up British survivors. The police of quite a few countries have a standing order to shoot a suspected suicide bomber in the head until he goes down.
Now, you may say that you believe the Rules of Engagement to be immoral, and you are certainly entitled to that opinion. Militaries generally do not disclose their ROE, for coldly rational reasons. Actually, an argument can be made -- I am not making it, but I understand the logic -- that the ROE in this case should never have been disclosed. This is, however, getting into a discussion of the inherent immorality of war, not Wikileaks. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:10, 22 December 2010 (UTC)


Sandy, I am sorry that I am late in joining this discussion.

I have not yet read much of the article, but my first impression is that it lacks an introduction, a brief summary reporting the basic facts, without any quotes.

--Peter Schmitt 20:33, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

I am going to be somewhat late in responding. Busy with other things, will not look seriously at this until at least Sunday, possibly a few days later.
I'd encourage more comment, especially from Peter, in the meanwhile. Sandy Harris 02:51, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
No problem with me, Sandy. There is no deadline for us. On the contrary, since I also have other things to do, I may also be not too busy here. --Peter Schmitt 09:50, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

I've rewritten some. At one point I had all quotes out of the intro, but I've since put one back. Sandy Harris 06:50, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


I feel that the mention of allegations against Assange here is inappropriate, as it's nothing to do with WikiLeaks, unless it is explicitly mentioned in the context of possibly being part of the campaign against WikiLeaks; the awards to Assange should move to that section on Assange as the awards clearly relate to WikiLeaks. I think the whole section on "Looking for support" should go; in context this is pretty trivial stuff. The Methods section is technical and should be trimmed - its really a technical footnote. Don't regard the internal dissension as particularly worth mentioning. The article is dominated by US perspectives, but the key issues are global. I think the use of quotes is excessive, they sometimes get in the way of any coherent flow. But that's a style issue - the balance issues are removing Assange allegations or putting them in the context of suggestions that these are part of an attempt to discredit WikiLeaks, cutting the trivial detail that detracts from the major issues, and removing the US-centric approach. I'd go from an introduction (without quotes, as Peter suggests) to the account of the major exposes (Notable Leaks [1], and then to separate discussions of the key issues (Freedom of the Press; Rights to Privacy vs Public Interest; National Security issues vs need to hold Governments accountable; Importance of secrecy in diplomatic affairs vs Freedom of Information). These issues can be illustrated by various specific examples. Then at the end, a short section on Assange and finally an account of the attacks on WikiLeaks. Gareth Leng 09:38, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Gareth, several people have complained about US-centricity. I would ask that they clarify very carefully whether they refer to the actual activities of Wikileaks, and the indeed more global issues that are addressed in freedom on the Internet and government secrecy. So far, I see a great deal of confusion between the messenger (Wikileaks) and the message. In other words, when you cite (Freedom of the Press; Rights to Privacy vs Public Interest; National Security issues vs need to hold Governments accountable; Importance of secrecy in diplomatic affairs vs Freedom of Information), you are NOT referring to things specific to Wikileaks. The Wikileans aspects go into proper context in articles on those subjects. Trying to put them into Wikileaks is to turn Wikileaks, essentially a publisher, into a forum such as the United Nations or even Davos or the Shanghai Cooperative Organization.
Wikileaks is an admittedly activist organization that operates internationally, but, so far, has targeted US materials, quite possibly through a single primary US source with SIPRNET access. The US responded. I don't think that's especially US-centric, Forget the recent large disclosures and go back to the helicopter firing incident, the targeting by US counterintelligence, etc. While the information has international implications, do the actions of Wikileaks? If tens of thousands of Russian documents had been the major release, and Russia had taken action to shut down distribution, would discussing that be Russian-centric? Now, if Wikileaks had disclosed French, Japanese, and American primary documents, and only the American response was discussed, I'd call that biased. If said documents had subjects of many nations, and the article dealt with responses from France, Japan, and the US, I would consider that appropriate -- and the specific documents be discussed in articles on the subject. For example, it's not American-centricd or Iranian-centric to say that the discussion of the general Middle East response to Iranian weapons development belongs in Iranian nuclear program, with only bibliographic references to Wikilieaks.
Sorry, but I don't think the exposes themselves should be more than bullets and links. They don't form any coherent grouping other than they came from the US; Wikileaks relation does not unify them in any meaningful way.
In the diplomatic disclosures, take the Lebanese material. That certainly deal with US-Lebanese relations, and the Middle East generally. That material, however, is most relevant to articles on Lebanese politics and US-Lebanon relations, rather than on Wikileaks -- to say that it's Wikileaks or US centric is to say that this week's New England Journal of Medicine blog article, "Safety and Effectiveness of a 2009 H1N1 Vaccine in Beijing,"is US centric because it was published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. THAT is international, or perhaps Sino-centric. It would be silly to put that in a general article on the NEJM.
The technical details perhaps belong in a separate article with amplification, but I hardly think there is too much -- there's actually too little on the alleged "cyberwar". It probably should be clarified that in comparison with major disruptions such as Slammer (malware) or NIMDA (malwar), this is a tiny, tiny leel of Internet disruption. As far as I can tell, as an example of hacktivism, this is unusual only in that there is an attempt to keep moving the servers, as a fairly simple-minded defense. There is Server location anonymization, imposed partially because Wikileaks has chosen to use a Wiki format — had they used, for example, BitTorrent, they would be far more resilient. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:39, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

There's a serious philosophy behind WikiLeaks; see here and here. What WikiLeaks claims to be revealing through its leaks is the mismatch between what governments say and what they actually do; they argue that the more repressive/authoritarian/dishonest the Government, the more it has to lose from openness. I do not think that you can write a balanced article about WikiLeaks without addressing this philosophical rationale. It's an idealistic enterprise, not a commercial enterprise, and whether you think the ideals are misguided or not, that's the context in which it must be discussed. If this article is not structured to address the fundamental issues that WikiLeaks claims to be addressing and was established for - then it will never be neutral and objective. It will be about the mere facts, the superficial phenomena, and not about the ideas, the ideals, the context, and it will miss the real importance. It will be crude reporting without the expert synthesis that we are aiming for.
On UC-centricity - first, WikiLeaks has not particularly targetted the US Government - the disclosures of 'Climategate' and BNP membership were UK based for example; both of these raise issues - the BNP release about privacy of personal information: is it legitimate for example to reveal that an individual police officer is a member of an extreme right wing organisation; - the Climategate disclosure raises issues about the privacy of e mails but also about how journalists can competently evaluate context in these cases - e mails between individuals cut out the context of assumed common knowledge/understanding, so evaluating their meaning as a third party becomes very difficult.
But the US centricity is that the disclosures of Government information are arguably in the global public interest, and their global impact needs to be addressed - i.e. the disclosure of US material have international implications; whether they are in US interests is one thing, whether they are in the global public interest is something quite else. The broad political/ethical/legal issues have an international context, but the specific leaks also all have global significance. The issue of whether it is legitimate to publicise details of diplomatic exchanges is not one that can be addressed objectively by simply reporting US views and reactions. How the US Government works is of global importance, and revealing exactly how it works is arguably in the global public interest - what the US thinks about WikiLeaks is arguably unimportant compared to its potential impact on global politics (except insofar as what it thinks is translated into authoritarian repression of global freedom of expression). The mechanics of what it does, all the technical details, are ultimately irrelevant to the core issue of what WikiLeaks is doing, why it is doing it, and what the global consequences are.Gareth Leng 17:16, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Wikileaks is only doing something that's been done before, without the Internet enabling it. It's a little frustrating to hear people talk about global public interest of information disclosure in the context of Wikileaks, as if Wikileaks has suddenly uncovered this issue. I certainly would not try to address the global significance of diplomatic exchanges in terms of US reaction OR Wikileaks contributions. Take, for example, the Iranian nuclear program. The existing CZ article, well before the Wikileaks diplomatic disclosures, dealt with international efforts to control nuclear proliferation. Wikileaks, by revealing the actual views of Arab powers, enhances that discussion, in the sense that they seem to be opposed and are appealing for US intervention. The complexity of that includes that the "street" won't be happy that Iran concerns their governments more than does Israel, with much more WMD capability.
BY ALL MEANS DISCUSS THE SPECIFIC LEAKS, BUT IN ARTICLES RELEVANT TO THEM. To attempt to put them into the Wikileaks articles is biased. It ignores things that have been around in the strategic literature but haven't gotten the publicity. It ignores the use of open source intelligence by competent analysts.
As another example of the need to address things in terms of the impact, not the leaker, is Mordechai Vanunu the core of discrediting Israel's policy of "strategic ambiguity" about its nuclear capability, and Dimona just being a research station? Or is the Israeli nuclear program really the issue? If Wikileaks is the core, than Vanunu was more important than what he had to say.
If one goes back to a pre-Internet major disclosure, the Pentagon Papers as released by Daniel Ellsberg, there was a great deal of impact on France, the Soviet Union and China, as well as other countries, and the NATO alliance -- before the US involvement in the Vietnam War began. The Papers gave some embarrassing disclosures about multiple countries in Geneva in 1954. I could go back before that to the Oslo Report in WWII, the provenance of which has come out only recently.
I'm afraid, Gareth, that what people are calling "US centricity" are buying into the activist line of Assange and Wikileaks, not considering it in the context of other major disclosures, and allowing Wikileaks to control the discussion of what has been a long-established issue among strategic specialists. This is wrong. Government secrecy is a legitimate issue, as well as the implementation details of classified information. Indeed, if one tries to read many of the leaked documents, one had better know a good deal about security classification markings for them to make much sense -- especially the military ones.
Steven Aftergood and the Federation of American Scientists -- an internationally oriented group -- have been addressing government secrecy, not just US, for decades. They are not alone. There is, however, far more discussion of security classification in the US than in most other countries. Wikileaks seems opportunistic -- there is reason to believe that much of their US material came from a single source. I'd be more impressed if Assange, an Australian, had made previous disclosures about what goes on at Alice Springs, and the proper Australian interest in that joint facility, and what it tells the involved governments about Chinia. Indeed, I'd be more impressed if there was investigation of the UKUSA Agreement or ECHELON. What about the European Parliament disclosures and recommendations about ECHELON, perhaps ten years ago? Do you suggest this doesn't have global significance?
While I don't agree with every aspect Nick raises, I'm getting concerned that there is both bias, and also a lack of familiarity with the field in which these disclosures have taken place. I think it's entirely appropriate to mention US reaction to leaks, just as it would be entirely appropriate to mention Israeli reaction to Vanunu.
I'm a little frustrated -- hell, a lot frustrated -- that I've written a great deal about Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, etc., from multiple perspectives, yet those detailed articles haven't gotten remotely the collaboration that Wikileaks has gotten. I'm frustrated that when I have written in some of the specialized areas, such as fratricide, the expert term, I got a great deal of argument over the title -- just whether it should be called fratricide (military) or "friendly fire". Come on, people -- when was the last time you saw a headline of one biological brother killing another described as "fratricide"? There wasn't any substantive contribution on the definition of military fratricide, and the relevant point here of how it flows into inadvertent civilian casualties, usually called "collateral damage" in the professional literature. To buy into Wikileaks labeling it "collateral murder" is, again, to let the activists control the discussion.
PS: from Murphy's Laws of Combat:
  • Friendly fire isn't.
  • When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.
Howard C. Berkowitz 21:14, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Incidentally, I first contributed to US Congressional testimony on government secrecy, by the Ripon Society, in 1970, and debated Tom Charles Huston about the Nixon Administration domestic surveillance plans about the same time. I was a participant in political policy discussions including the Pentagon Papers, Shanghai Communique, and national technical means of verification in 1972. I did not appreciate the tantrum accusing me of being US-centric, which blocked me from the article. The area of government secrecy, not limited to the US, has been an interest of mine for several decades -- and the very nature of the subject is such that it doesn't necessarily get published.
Consider how a tantrum removed me from the article, without a fair hearing of whether I was being biased or not. Ironically enough, one of the few compliments, (I think) ever given me by He Who Has Departed, when he was accusing us all of bias and supporting biased and inaccurate articles on extrajudicial detention, U.S. by George Swan, both claiming that "Americans needed to be educated", was MBE's comment "But Howard, I don't think of you as an American."
Yup. Some of us USAians actually do research on what both our and other governments do, and are aware it's a connected world. Some of us even turn away from Fox News and pay attention to Chatham House, International Institute for Strategic Studies, International Crisis Group, etc. Some of us pay attention to things like the Durand Line and don't just think Pakistani foreign policy is concerned only with US opinion and Afghanistan. Some of us wonder why we are chasing al-Qaeda where it isn't, but do differentiate among the interests of the Quetta Shura and Tehrik-e-Taliban (which needs updating) and the Haqqani Network.
Frankly, I wish some of the people insisting on US bias look at their own -- and what they contribute to the specialized articles, not just what is fashionable. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:34, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to the many irrelevant tangents in the above. Just to repeat, my problem with the article is not pro US bias, but its US-centricity - addressing the topic primarily in the context of how it affects the US and evaluating it through US reactions to activities affecting the US. WikiLeaks is a European based global organisation, founded by Chinese dissidents, led by an Australian currently in the UK. The site recently provided US-sourced classified information information to media in Germany, France the UK and the USA who have published it, but past sources have been from all around the world. The site has a clear philosophy and mission, and rational evaluation of its activities requires some synthesis of what it has done and the consequences, and there are major criticisms even from its supporters (Open letter to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: ‘‘A bad precedent for the Internet’s future’’ [2](Reporters Without Borders). Looking at those will give a complex picture; the Climategate release of e-mails for example was damaging in reducing public trust in climate science, and this was the consequence of taking private e mails out of context; however it also had the effect (through the consequent reports) of reinforcing the principle that all scientific data should be made fully and openly available after publication. The 2007 leaking of the Kroll report which revealed corruption in Kenya's government [3] is claimed to have affected the subsequent election results removing many involved in that corruption from office[4]. The video released as "Collateral murder" made visible how the US Rules of Engagement in Iraq were interpreted, revealed the mismatch between official accounts of the incident and the facts of that incident, and showed that the Rules of Engagement permitted soldiers to decide to kill unarmed people who were understood by those soldiers to be attempting to rescue/evacuate injured people. The merits of the Rules of Engagement, or of Climate Science are not the point; this article isn't the place for discussing their merits, but it should be the place for discussing what WikiLeaks does, why it does them, the issues involved, and their consequences. The release of information that may pose risks to specific individuals is widely condemned and hard to see any justification within WikiLeaks' mission. But I've said my bit and deeply appreciate what Sandy is doing here; I'm just here explaining the ways in which I think the present text is weak and unbalanced. I'd rather not see this article as a drop bag of detail. WikiLeaks is one of the big stories of the century, the impact of its activities is enormous. Freedom of the Press is not a new concept, there have always been leaks and whistleblowers, but WikiLeaks has taken the issues to a quite new level.Gareth Leng 10:55, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Gareth, it serves no one here to exchange comments about irrelevancies. We disagree on some fundamental aspects, and some of them, for me, are in areas where I have spent a few decades of effort. Again, I say that the proper place for your global issues are in, at least, articles such as government secrecy and freedom on the Internet. These should contextualize Wikileaks, and other unofficial sources of information. Indeed, a conventional news organization, or a publisher such as that of Mordechai Vanunu, can have just as much impact as a massive, essentially unorganized document dump -- the helicopter incident was quite a different matter of specificity.
Yesterday, there was a disclosure of Fox News orders to its reporters on how climate matters were to be presented, and, if I may dare say so, slanted. Along with Climategate, that belongs in an article about the effects of media, conventional and unconventional, on obviously global climate issues. The discussion must not be framed by Wikileaks, but by Citizendium, not from the activist positions of Fox or of Wikileaks.
I find it interesting that you comment on the Rules of Engagement (ROE) in the attack helicopter incident. I simply don't remember: did Wikileaks actually disclose the relevant ROE document? In U.S. military practice, ROE documents in effect are usually classified at the SECRET, or rarely CONFIDENTIAL level, but are never unclassified, for what should be understandable tactical reasons. ROE are distinct from the Laws of Land Warfare that establish justifications for firing in a manner that may injure or kill civilians. Simple question with a yes or no answer: did Wikileaks actually disclose the ROE in effect with the non-neutrally named "collateral murder" report? Have you actually read them when you say The video released as "Collateral murder" made visible how the US Rules of Engagement in Iraq were interpreted, revealed the mismatch between official accounts of the incident and the facts of that incident, and showed that the Rules of Engagement permitted soldiers to decide to kill unarmed people who were understood by those soldiers to be attempting to rescue/evacuate injured people. If you don't have the primary document, and have not seen quite a few ROEs, what basis are you using to interpret these? War is dangerous for children and other living things, but many countries' ROE reflect some brutal truths of battlefield survival. In a different incident in Iraq, forces were under rocket fire from a hotel balcony. A news reporter raised a long telephoto lens from a different balcony, and was immediately killed, reflecting the combat reality that it's impossible to tell the difference, in seconds, through the actual viewing systems in use, between a long tube of a lens and a long tube of a rocket launcher. Unfortunately, with the technology of that time, someone was going to die.
So far, I read a certain lack of understanding with ROE, their use and their misuse. ROE are used in a fairly standard manner by NATO, Commonwealth, and other allied forces such as Japan, so while some might have started in the US, they are the practice of many industrialized nation. I'm bothered by your speaking of "irrelevancies" when I hear you making what I consider sweeping generalizations representing a particular political view. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:39, 17 December 2010 (UTC)


Howard asks (rather aggressively, as its easily answered for himself) "Simple question with a yes or no answer: did Wikileaks actually disclose the ROE in effect with the non-neutrally named "collateral murder" report?" Answer yes

See also

The issue of what the Rules were is not the point, nor is it an issue whether the soldiers observed them or not (if they weren't following the Rules why weren't they prosecuted). The issue is a political one, if the soldiers were following the Rules, then WikiLeaks exposed the reality of those Rules and raised worldwide concern about their nature - this article doesn't need to discuss the Rules or whther this was a breach, but does (I think) need to engage the political issues raised by the release. If every serious news source has expert commentators discussing how the WikiLeaks disclosure of the helicopter attack raises questions about the conduct of the war, for the life of me I don't understand why Citizendium shouldn't also report that; it is key to WikiLeaks that they claim that disclosures are in the public interest, and that can't be discussed in a vacuum but needs clear examples. It's not for me (or us) to judge whether release of that video, which was requested by Reuters under the Freedom of Information act but denied, was in fact in the public interest - but that issue is for everyone to decide for themselves Gareth Leng 12:48, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

That which bothers me, Gareth, is that you seem to be suggesting that there have been no discussions about Rules of Engagement before Wikileaks or Iraq. Nonsense. To suggest otherwise, and put it other than in the Rules of Engagement article, is allowing Wikileaks to frame the discussion.
As a quick example, the ROE for the US invasion of Panama were widely considered, among soldiers of several countries, to be quite thoughtful and intended to avoid collateral damage. Nevertheless, there was one significant case where even following the rules, given that war is not perfect, led to significant civilian damage.
I'm citing from memory but, as I remember, the use of indirect fire ground weapons (e.g., artillery) had to be preauthorized by a lieutenant colonel or higher, and air strikes from a general officer. These rules were followed in probably the fiercest fighting, at the Comandancia, the Panamanian military headquarters and a legitimate target by most standards. Now, I can't give you the exact ballistics from memory, but the key building in the facility was eventually taken under heavy weapons fire. Unfortunately, as I remember, the roof failed, and several shells tore through it and into a large slum next to the Comandancia wall, and started extensive and unexpected fires.
Let's go back. I see no functional difference between Rules of Engagement and targeting strategies. Sir Arthur Harris specified the RAF Bomber Command doctrine of "dehousing" against Germany, which does have some complex nuances, but essentially was a deliberate targeting of the residential areas in which German industrial workers, but not exclusively industrial areas, lived. Had the war crimes trials gone the other way, a good argument might have been made for hanging Harris by the neck until dead. The bombing doctrine against Japan, however, was considerably more complex, because while there were quite separate factory and residential areas in Germany, many Japanese industrial facilities were comingled with housing.
I have absolutely no problem discussing, in a comparative manner, rules of engagement and their predecessors, and I am the first to call the United States wrong if I think it was wrong. Nevertheless, this is not a new issue, and, as far as I can tell, you are treating it as an essentially new issue and allowing Wikileaks to frame the terms of discussion. You mention a CNN article about how the stories make world opinion, a very good point. CNN is a news organization, which has used material from Wikileaks and other sources. Sometimes, it's been very wrong, as with its own reporting on the purported Operation TAILWIND in Southeast Asia, which caused the dismissal of Peter Arnett.
Now, I just tried to go to Wikileaks for the ROE, and, not surprisingly, the site was down. That's not the issue. The issue, in part, is the distinction between leak source and the news organizations that publish it, and Wikileaks has essentially been a source to news organizations. Let's take, for example, one of the iconic photographs of the Vietnam War, Saigon police chief Nguyen Nuoc Loan shooting a civilian Viet Cong prisoner in the head. Do we speak of that incident as dealing with Vietnam and summary execution, or do we allow Eddie Adams, the photographer, to do the assessment?
I will continue to object strenuously if you keep relevant discussions in the context of Wikileaks alone, rather than in something that considers other relevant sources. Take the Wikileaks disclosures of private Arab governmental policy about the Iranian nuclear program. Those were significant Wikileaks diplomatic disclosures, but I see the appropriate treatment as in the subject-specific article, along with many other sources and assessments.
While I haven't yet decided on a good place to have coverage here, let me observe that some of the field reports in the large batch of military disclosures are both much harder to interpret than the diplomatic ones, yet some, which I read in the New York Times, shocked me -- there was blatant military incompetence if one knew how to get through the cryptic language. Literally, Gareth, I shook when I read a radio message saying BONE WINCHESTER, which told me quite a bit -- yet it wasn't one of the phrases the Times explained. Please don't take this as more sympathetic to soldiers' than civilians' lives, but it angered me that soldiers had been put into a position when the best support they had -- or didn't have -- was indicated by BONE WINCHESTER. How do we explain this sort of thing in context? I'm not sure. Briefly, a small outpost was put in a sufficiently exposed position that when they were attacked, the most powerful available air support ran out of ammunition.
I urge you to reconsider how the discussions should be framed, and that Wikileaks is new only in volume and speed. I greatly recommend H.R. McMaster's book on US policymaking in the Vietnam War: Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. This was McMaster's doctoral dissertation -- I should note that he is a serving US general. He was able, through a mixture of diligent academic research and military connections, to get access to source material that had not previously seen daylight. When, for example, I discovered Lyndon Johnson had announced an unnecessary airstrike, but still with pilots for whom he was responsible, was announced on TV on its way to the target, so he could make the news deadlines but jeopardizing the forces, I muttered to myself "it's just as well LBJ is dead." Just out of curiosity, Gareth -- do you have a sense of how contrived, confused, and manipulated was the Gulf of Tonkin Incident as the casus belli for a massive escalation in Vietnam? If you don't, I suggest that we are dealing with much broader historical and policy issues than Wikileaks alone. If you do, how did you find out abut it, and certainly OPPLAN 34A as well as the Desoto Patrols, without Wikileaks?
I am quite prepared to give many non-US ROE and debatable war crimes examples; I just don't have as many memorized as I do US examples. Some US examples, such as No Gun Ri, are coming to light after fifty years or so. Other atrocities variously came to light because they were committed by the losing side, as at Manila or Malmedy, so we didn't need Wikileaks. Deir Yassin preceded Wikileaks by a fair bit. It's still not clear if British forces used smallpox in the French and Indian War, although Japanese biological warfare in China is fairly well known -- but not well enough. There are also charges that can be cleared, such as the North Korean accusations of US biological warfare in the Korean War -- but for many years, I could not discuss the reason that the allegations were nonsense without using now-declassified information.
That last example, incidentally, is one in which it can be difficult to explain why a Freedom of Information request may be denied. Sometimes, it's simply coverup. In other cases, the reason itself may legitimately be classified. Sandy is aware of why the advisory committee to the US Senate Intelligence Committee would not say why NSA refused to discuss the details of why the Data Encryption System algorithm was partially classified. Years later, we discover they were right that there was no back door -- but the classified details covered a previously unknown technique, differential cryptanalysis.
Are we going to be expert-guided, Gareth? Than I suggest that you pay a little more attention to opinions in the military and historical areas, not just curent political opinion. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:31, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't think you're listening. I've said nothing about attacking the US (I don't see where you get that idea from), and explicitly said this is not the place to discuss the Rules of Engagement. The issue has nothing to do with what the rules are,; all that is relevant is that the military endorsed the actions of those soldiers. Given that, the issue is to do (for example) about whether we, whose governments conducted that war (and the UK was in Iraq too) would have supported that war had we known that this was how it was going to be conducted - that's the importance of information; it changes the nature of politics. I have no idea why military opinions should be regarded as particularly relevant to this article, any more than geoscience opinions would be by inclusion of Climategate; this is in my view exclusively a Politics article, but unfortunately we don't seem to have a Politics editor here with relevant expertise. However it is an article on which many members of Citizendium will have views. However, look at the opinion, published in Time, NYT, the Times Telegraph, BBC, Newsweek, New Yoryer etc etc and you'll see that what they consider that WikiLeaks is significant for. And that, I think, is what should guide the article - i.e. what it has done, why it did it, and what impact it has actually had. That is what I have said from the beginning, and I have suggested that these things should be illustrated by specific examples to show exactly the nature of the issues raised by WikiLeaks. I don't particularly care which examples are chosen, but it's natural to choose from some that have been particularly well covered - like the Kenyan revelations,(Wikileaks receives Amnesty International's New Media Award)the Climategate e mails, the "collateral murder" video, the BNP list, the Scientology documents, - and of course the diplomatic cables (subject of the Sam Adams award, from former US military officials and intelligence advisors) Gareth Leng 18:21, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say "attacking" the US, but I do think there are unfair accusations of US centricity. I also think there is an unrealistic expectation about legal/law enforcement methods or freedom of speech in the international Internet. Show me legal measures that work on spam, and I'll then deal with more complex problems.
Actually, Gareth, I am a politics editor, and I am a politics editor with several decades of experience specifically in government secrecy. It was 1972, I think, when I first contributed to Congressional testimony by the Ripon Society, urging reforms in security classification. For that matter, I also have personal experience working in classified environments, as well as experience in defense journalism (Washington Post while I was in college, but still...) My graduate program, in part, was in National Security Policy (principally intelligence, but including propaganda analysis from Ferencz Molnar) at the School of International Service at American University. (hangs head in shame) I'm even a graduate of the senior campaign management school of the Republican National Committee and have been on the staff of a number of campaigns, but I did come to my senses about the current direction of the Reepublican Party. At CZ, I've written classified information, compartmented control system, intelligence interrogation, U.S., George W. Bush Administration, most of the Iraq War articles, and started government secrecy and freedom on the Internet, among others. While I haven't done much on them recently, I started both Iranian nuclear program and Israeli nuclear program. Just what expertise did you want?
Why is military relevant? Well, before the tens of thousands of diplomatic documents were released, tens of thousands of military documents were released. Military is also relevant if you want to read any of those tens of thousands of operational documents and make much sense of them. Military expertise means that one knows that surgeons operate with very small sharp knives, which is quite different than "surgical strikes". Military expertise knows there are no wars that don't kill innocent people.
Seriously, I find it interesting that you say "war had we known that this was how it was going to be conducted". least with Iraq, very little surprised me, being familiar with US doctrine, and also being aware from perhaps obscure, but open, sources, about the general Iraq War in and before the George W. Bush Administration, and how neoconservatives such as the Project for the New American Century were pushing for war in Iraq, with high visibility from 1998 but certainly beforehand as well.
There tends to be a great deal of information available in the US, but finding it does take expertise. For the record, I supported the initial operations in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, although I believe Afghanistan has gone on far too long with no meaningful and attainable objectives. Nevertheless, I tend to hear to continuing memes from Europeans: either USAians (don't want confusion with my Canadian friends) don't know anything about the world, or don't know anything about what their government does.
Current news media are not necessarily the best place to interpret the effect of leaks, as they are going to go for the sensational. I would recommend a number of professional foreign policy publications and sites, to assess the real impact, not what makes headlines.
Diplomats collecting information on one another? Government officials saying different things in public and in private? Innocent people get killed in war? I am shocked, absolutely shocked. Next thing you know, there will be headlines about gambling in Rick's Cafe. Round up the usual suspects! Howard C. Berkowitz 23:12, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Comment in brief

I essentially agree with what Gareth said:

  • "the use of quotes is excessive, they sometimes get in the way of any coherent flow."
  • the key issues are "Freedom of the Press; Rights to Privacy vs Public Interest; National Security issues vs need to hold Governments accountable; Importance of secrecy in diplomatic affairs vs Freedom of Information. These issues can be illustrated by various specific examples."
  • The history of the site ("Development") should be summarised. They do not interest the typical reader. (If one wants to describe details: It can be done on a subpage or in a separate article).
  • The same is even more true for the "Method" section and for details of the attacks on WikiLeaks.
  • If the actions against the person Assange are mentioned at all this has to be phrased very carefully.
  • The article is currently US-centric because it concentrates on US reactions.

A possible structure could be:

Introduction=Summary - brief history - important cases (summarized) -
- WikiLeaks claimed mission and range of opinions ("key issues") - Actions pro and contra WikiLeaks.

--Peter Schmitt 00:48, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

OK, you have clarified, Peter. Thank you.
If freedom on the Internet, government secrecy, public sphere vs. private sphere, the nature of diplomacy etc., are primarily going to be purseud in the context of Wikileaks, rather than having basic things about Wikileaks the organization/site and then discussing the serious international policy issues and using Wikileaks and other sources as examples, I shall not participate in adding to the content. I simply do not consider Wikileaks that new an issue, and, frankly, if it is allowed to define the dialogue in a field in which many people hate worked for decades, I see no hope for objectivity. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:16, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
No hope for objectivity? Isn't it an objective fact that the activities of WikiLeaks triggered a debate of these key issues (in comparison to the situation before the Internet and WikiLeaks)? This is certainly more important than technical and organizational details. It is your decision if you participate. But you could still participate specialized articles on these details that interest you. --Peter Schmitt 01:37, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
No, it is not an objective fact that Wikileaks triggered a debate about these subjects. These subjects have been seriously discussed and analyzed for years. It is a fact that people who apparently are not aware of the background now are very concerned due to Wikileaks, having just been informed there was gambling in Rick's Cafe. Sorry, I just don't consider Wikileaks all that earth-shattering in matters of the proper balance of government secrecy in a democracy. If you look at some of the articles in intelligence cycle management, you'll see references to the long debate of how intelligence activities can be monitored by the UK Parliament or US Congress, as opposed to by the government. I'd tend to think that there needs to be a consensus about what level of secrecy is appropriate, before taking up Wikileaks' specific disclosures. Assange is very good at manipulating publicity and people.
Look at hacker and judge Wikileaks in terms of ethical hacking -- they are simply stating the "information wants to be free" imperative. Wikileaks seems to think so, as do many in assorted hacking communities. In contrast, it was said of the head of the US Navy in WWII that if he had his way, he would have given the public one announcement after all fighting ended, which would have read "we won."
I don't think I can add anything to the current discussion, or at least anything that the participants want to hear, since there seems to be an assumption that Wikileaks has redefined the rules. No, I don't think so. Accelerated the game, yes. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:51, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

As I wrote in cypherpunk, about the cypherpunk mailing list "In at least two senses, people on the list were ahead of more-or-less everyone else. For one thing, the list was discussing questions about privacy, government monitoring, corporate control of information, and related issues in the early 90s that did not become major topics for broader discussion until ten years or so later. For another, at least some list participants were more radical on these issues than almost anyone else." This ties in with more general things like the hacker stuff Howard mentions, of course.

In one sense, WikiLeaks are not doing anything remarkably novel. There have been plenty of leaks before; the Pentagon Papers and Cryptome leap to mind, but there are lots of others, many for other countries. Nor is debate over government secrecy anything new. Nor are the ideas of using strong crypto to provide anonymity and an international organisation being immune from many government restrictions — those are staples among cypherpunks and other net.radicals. See EFF's Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace for an example dating from 1996.

What they are doing that is new is summarised in the quote "We aim for maximum political impact." To me precisely the most interesting and important things about WikiLeaks are their ideas — nothing terribly new in view of the hacker and cypherpunk traditions, but now having much broader effects — and their methods. Sandy Harris 02:46, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Well said, Sandy. There were, of course, things before Cypherpunks. I suppose I'd feel better about the whole thing if people were interested in improving CZ content in all of those ideas you mention. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:51, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
When I said that details on "methods" are not of interest for this article I was talking of the technical methods, the strategy used by the site is, of course, in the scope of the article. --Peter Schmitt 11:00, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

My current thoughts

I will not get to actually doing it for a few days, but it seems time to put down some thoughts on where it might go from here.

Take the quotes out of the introduction. Expand it a bit to mention and link to the issues WL raises, but aim at a short clear intro.

Take those quotes, the current methods section and the links to Assange's papers, try to fit them together into a coherent statement of what WL is doing and why, again with plenty of links. Make that the second section; delete the existing methods section.

Having done that, look at the rest. Focus mainly on coherence, not on removing things. Sandy Harris 03:42, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

I think I'm done

I've re-ordered and rewritten some. I think this is now as far as I want to take it.

Certainly it is as far as I want to go in my user space. I think it should move to main space where others can contribute. Sandy Harris 06:57, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


I've just reread the talk pages both for the original article and for this draft. One thing struck me as rather interesting; it got mentioned but not replied to amid the confusion & controversy.

Matin wrote "They seem to be a new sort of internet entity, that nobody had expected to emerge. This needs to be documented." He is not completely wrong, but that statement couldn't be much farther from how I see it. To me, there's not all that much new about WikiLeaks; it is just Cryptome with better marketing. To me, WikiLeaks is part of a continuing story, yet another instance of the Net and good crypto having heavy political consequences; others include PGP, anonymous remailers (WP link) or FreeS/WAN. Most of the issues WikiLeaks raises were being kicked around on the cypherpunks mailing list 15 years ago.

I'm not sure how this difference of perspective should be handled, but I think it is important. Sandy Harris 14:33, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Sandy, that's exactly my concern -- quite a few issues of government secrecy and intrusion, not just Wikileaks, are being framed as if they are new. "Cryptome with better marketing" is a great description -- and one can still suggest that Cryptome is a computerized "Pentagon Papers". I first contributed to Congressional testimony, by the Ripon Society, around 1970, dealing with government secrecy.
If one wants to be harsh on the US with respect to battlefield deaths of civilians, one can go back to My Lai and No Gun Ri, or, if the UK is your choice, the dehousing strategy of Arthur Harris. Note that these all had far higher death tolls than "Collateral Murder".
There are important issues at the border of policy and technology. As you know, Sandy, security policy has to be defined before any sensible information security implementation. The SIPRNET policies enabled Wikileaks--from various discussion forums, I suspect some were meant to be reasonable tradeoffs and some were just bad. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:21, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I think if one "wants to be harsh on the US", then one denies that this has anything to do with "battlefield deaths of civilians". Collateral damage on an actual battlefield is one thing, attacking civilians on the streets of their capital city quite another. This is WL's position, the reason they call it "collateral murder". This might need to be discussed somewhere; likely not here.
Yes, there are lots of other examples. The oldest case I know of where military massacred civilians was Alexander of Macedon; it would not surprise me at all if historians know of some before that.
My son is named Arthur Harris. Neither my wife nor I realised the connection to Sir Arthur until a friend (ex British military) came to visit when the kid was about three weeks and inquired "How's young Bomber?" I cracked up; my wife looked puzzled. I'm quite content with the idea that the kid has that name; so is he. Sandy Harris 02:57, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Ah. I see the reason for the Bomber article. Shall I join in, or go do Curtis Lemay and Carl Spaatz? :-)
Your son's namesake, of course, had the idea that there is no distinction between civilian areas and the battlefield, hardly a new one. It wasn't until after the war that a formal countervalue doctrine was formed, although true countervalue actions had to wait for nuclear weapons, and then, selectively, precision-guided munitions. That's from the standpoint of industrial war; guerillas also don't make such a distinction. I agree that should be considered elsewhere, and not allow WL to set the terms of discussion of urban combat.
Before deciding when the first military massacred civilians, we have to define the first military, which may well have done it--I'm confident that the Bear Cave Clan probably massacred the males of the Lion Cave Clan. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:00, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
You wrote "it is just Cryptome with better marketing." Well, that's a bit like saying Darwin is just Mathew with better marketting (Mathew wrote a decent account of natural selection that was ignored/ not noticed because of where he published it). Novelty in an issue like this has little to do with technical, or even ideological novelty - you can go back along way for the oroigins of freedom of speech - it's got to be defined by political (in the academic sense) impact - this is the thing, that at this time and in this way, seemed to change public perceptions and opinions radically. Political change is always a continuous process, yet there can be tipping points too. Some time ago, Freedom of Information legislation crystallised trends in science that were going anyway, yet there was a transformation in attitudes - it used to be enough to publish derived data (the data are meaningless without context aren't they, so open to misuse and misinterpretation) Well now we've got to be prepared to release all the raw data and the lab books so better provide the context as best we can with that. OK we've just got to get on with it. But governments have thought that they could control their own data, that they could decide what to release and when and how and so keep an ultimate monopoly on authority of interpretation to some extent. Now what Wikileaks seems to have done is to show a) that no-one can control the internet - well we knew that but maybe hadn't really realised the full implications and b) holding and releasing information is beyond the control of governments so c) the only control that governments have is by oppressive measures blocking release, and the oppressive nature seems inevitable because the case for blocking release and prosecuting whistleblowers can really only be made openly if the nature of that information is made public. And then what we see is d) the changing nature of public interest as a defence. When the release is global and the impact global, the nature of public interest is global too - and who can judge what is in the global public interest? Seems to me that a lot has changed, this is a new world. Technological novelty is just not the point.Gareth Leng 18:58, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Precisely, Gareth. It is not about technology as such: it is about the use of technology in a global political context. It is also about the rule of law, and how national politicians have avoided regulating the internet directly, leaving massive loopholes for themsleves as well as others. For some discussion of the legal novelty of wikileaks, see this Economist article: . There is also some interesting discussion about the socio-political implications here: . In a sense, what they have done is take the US approach to law (as embodied in the Guantanomo camp and its evasion of legal obligations) and adapted it for their own political usage. Analysing the implications of this is complex, and near-impossible as things continue to unfold. Potentially, wikileaks is revolutionary in reshaping state-society relations, and trying to re-introduce popular democratic accountability in an era whose general direction is the opposite -- namely, secrecy and manipulation by elites with little input from the general populace (or even experts). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 19:21, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
They may have helped get rid of the Bey of Tunis, which would be revolutionary in itself, I would say. Hayford Peirce 19:28, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Hayford, that's a reasonable, although not proven, inference. Nevertheless, "helped" is the operative point. My concern with this article is that some would like to identify Wikileaks as, apparently, the major effector of world political change. In your example, I see this as a point to be discussed under Tunisia, with Wikileaks being a source of information and perhaps an involved actor. If one looks at the 1979 Iranian Revolution and continuing Iranian relations, the 1952 overthrow of Mossadegh, by the UK and US, remains a key matter in Iranian political thought -- and it was known before Wikileaks.
I would note that both Gareth and Martin seem to be writing from an assumption that, on some matters, there should be global governance. Whether I agree with parts of this or not, it is a particular view, and tends to dismiss the reality of national sovereignty, especially by major powers. In other words, this is a particular political viewpoint that is not neutral, and should not be treated as such. It's certainly reasonable to identify that Wikileaks supports this viewpoint, and, in general, opposes control of information, coming from the Hacker Ethic, not so much US law. Much of Guantanamo was extralegal in the US and is still being fought in the courts and Congress.
Before one starts to say government can or should control information, consider such things as personal medical information.
Even if one accepts that what Wikileaks has done is revolutionary, the revolution is incomplete, and I'm afraid some of the editing on this articles assumes that it is. Just as it's unwise to be US-centric, it is equally unwise to be Eurocentric. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:37, 17 January 2011 (UTC):
There most certainly are no such assumptions in my comments, nor do I see any in Gareth's. Nor are the comments Eurocentric. I regret that some people persist with delusions of competence in areas where it is very clear that they have none. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 19:50, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
And comments of others have not been US-centric. Also, please watch the professionalism of your comments, even if veiled. There is very substantial sourced material on CZ about Guantanamo, incidentally, and the justifications for, arguments against, and spelling theoreof. The Internet, indeed, is a cooperative anarchy. It is ludicrous, and inaccurate, for anyone in the US government to claim it can be shut down. I
In any event, competence begins with discussing issues, not personalizing the matter. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:19, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Martin is right, there was nothing in his comments or in mine that implied any view that there should be global governance, or indeed implied any personal views about the rights and wrongs of Wikileaks, and I'm unsurprised that he took offence at the suggestion that he was pushing a personal opinion on what should happen, as I do. You seem to still misuderstand the earlier concern about US centricity, and still seem to think that somehow this is the converse of "US bashing". Nothing in the Wikileaks issue as discussed here by myself or Martin is about US bashing, one point we've made repeatedly is that a) that the impact has affected many countries and b) even had that not been obviously true, the implications are global even for events that seem to concern one country. There is no US bashing here, any more I see climate science bashing in an account of the Wikileaks disclosues of scientists e mails - the political issues related to Wikileaks are nothing really to do with the actual content of the Wikileaks disclosures but have everything to do with the global political issue, in the academic sense of politics, of its implications for governance, authority, and control throughout the world. The ultimate consequences of Wikileaks have yet to be seen, but it has posed major questions in a way that can't be avoided. Most crisply this; in liberal democracies we have accepted the concept of "public interest" as a legal defence and moral justification for journalists and whistleblowers. In Now, we see that there can be cases where disclosures may be in the global public interest yet against the public interest in the state from which thiose disclosures emanated. The boundaries of how we understand freedom of speech and its moral justification, and the terms in which we defend it, have changed because Wikileaks has made it impossible to ignore global implications and global perceptions. That seems to be a simple fact, and implies no opinion on the rights and wrongs of any particular disclosures.Gareth Leng 09:47, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Again, I'm not trying to bash anyone, but the world is not composed of solely of liberal democracies in which the public interest is the justification for whistleblowers and journalists. Several powers in the world, as well as minor countries, certainly are not democracies, or, as with Russia, struggling ones with a significant part of the population comfortable with authoritarianism. Other democracies do not accept some of the assumptions of public interest -- very few of the court cases in which secrecy was overturned or leaks protected in the U.S. were based on "public interest", but on other legal theories. Given that is the case, it cannot be a CZ assumption that such is accepted on a worldwide basis. To say the world has changed like this certainly can be your opinion, but it cannot be stated as fact, any more than it can simply be stated as fact that homeopathy works..."because it just does".

I am not saying you are US bashing, but that you are simply stating a world consensus that does not exist. I have no problem at all with your stating it as opinion, preferably sourced, but it is opinion from one side of a polygonal world. To my surprise, Gareth, you seem to be suggesting that there is no particular need to present other widely held beliefs. At least be open to the possibility of the equivalent of "homeopaths believe," which you certainly were in the homeopathy article.

Let me not speak for Sandy, but, at the top of this page, he did not seem to find the bias others did. In this section, he makes the point, with which I agree, that many of these issues are not new for people that have spent substantial time in Internet policy. If you were to go to a world meeting of the Internet Society, which, among other things, sponsors the IETF, you would find a wide diversity of political views, not all of which agree with what you state as fact. You would be more likely to find partial agreement in ethical hacker circles, such as Cypherpunks, but even there, I suspect you would find many participants that do not phrase things in terms of public interest. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:07, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Again, Howard (how many times does this have to be said?), this is not primarily an issue where people with knowledge of the Internet have expertise. This is a much bigger issue, concerned with concepts such as governance (at many levels), democracy and its various formulations, and the role of the internet in mediating and reshaping state-society relations. If you do not understand these issues well, I am not critical of this deficit. However, your persistent comments reveal not a differing opinion but lack of comprehension of the complex issues involved. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:45, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I would argue that people involved in Internet policy have significant knowledge of the pre-Wikileaks culture and politics that is being ignored. I am not going to get into an unprofessional discussion with you about who knows more about the role of the Internet in state-society relations; suffice it to say I have been involved in such matters for many years. Indeed, I have been asked to submit a journal paper about the gap between policymakers and political experts that have not been exposed to the development of Internet culture and technology, which are related but distinct. Lack of Internet understanding leads to a great many silly political and media mistakes, such as it being possible to "shut down the Internet". There's no question that US political opinion assumes greater control over governance than the US has, but also many people assume that there is more control than anyone has.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has the greatest control, but it is quite limited. The World Intellectual Property Organization has tried asserting control over DNS names, and at best is accepted as a mediator. Sensibly, the Internet Society doesn't try to control, but to characterize. You seem to assert there is only one way to understand these issues, which hardly respects CZ policies of objectivity, to say nothing of neutrality. Vague deprecation of understanding is neither helpful nor professional in eliciting the underlying assumptions. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:56, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
The complaint was not that it was biased but that it was US-centric - that in its earlier form it characterised the issues insofar as they affected the US and were perceived in the US, when the issues are global in impact. Of course it affects countries under other systems of government, and the implications for them are even greater than for liberal democracies. The technical internet issues are simply irrelevant in the context of political impact. That's not to say they don't have a place in the article, but they're independent of the fundamental political issues raised. Those issues are raised by the mere fact of raw information directly reaching the global public swiftly and on a massive scale, however that is achieved. i.e. the fact that people have access to the same raw information from which governments formulate their decision, which formerly they made available only in digested form as rationalisations of those decisions. That changes the nature of the relationshipp between the people and the government - in rather the same way as the Reformation, by making ths Scriptures available for people to read in their own language changed the relationship between the Church and the people. Gareth Leng 11:15, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

More reflections

Marin wrote above "It is not about technology as such: it is about the use of technology in a global political context. It is also about the rule of law, ...: So far I agree completely.

He continues "and how national politicians have avoided regulating the internet directly, leaving massive loopholes for themsleves as well as others." There, I have to disagree quite strongly. It isn't that they haven't tried — the DeCSS case, various anti-spam laws, US Communications Decency Act (thrown out by the Supreme Court), the Great Firewall of China, ... — it is that the Net is nearly impossible to regulate. Quoting John Gilmore, "The Internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it." Sandy Harris 11:46, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

To address Gareth's comment, I think Sandy and I agree that the technology is secondary to the uses of it, and the articles must not be technology centric. Nevertheless, even if I grant that the issue is massive information being widely available, then Wikileaks is not at the core of it. Were there no World Wide Web, much less information would be available -- email, Usenet, and other applications did not make data as accessible. I do not argue, Gareth, that there are fundamental changes in the relation of the governed to information; I simply argue that such needs to be addressed in a framework not defined by Wikileaks. There were enormous changes before Wikileaks and there will be enormous changes afterwards. Information and governance perhaps is the appropriate place. Yes, it's a technological point, but without search engines,the Wikileaks data is largely unmanageable. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:05, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I see your point, Sandy. But I don't agree, nevertheless. Take DRM: how much sense does it make for governments to promote technical restrictions on copyrighted materials when the various national laws are so unco-ordinated and even conflicting, that at a global level the copyright status of most things is unclear? The DRM fiasco was US-led, as I understand, and reflected corporate interests there; it did nothing to support the rights of smaller parties, and left the world with a bitter taste about copyright and power (as opposed to accepting the legitimacy of artists' and producers' claims to their copyrighted work). The result has been a global popular backlash, with copyrighted materials being distributed free via torrents etc. Another aspect of the popular support for illegal downloads is that the actual costs of DVDs and CDs are well in excess of normal profits, especially with global oligopolies abusing their market dominance. Equally, the creation of regional DVD coding was accepted by governments, is inconsistent with copyright laws and has been ruled unlawful by the supreme courts of Australia and NZ.
Essentially, what I am saying is that piecemeal attempts at internet regulation have merely reflected powerful global and national interests, and ignored the rights of consumers and the public. They have not respected basic legal principles, nor basic democratic principles, and left the internet largely unregulated owing to a complete lack of understanding of the need for approximation of standards across (at least the western) world. In this context, WikiLeaks is actually continuing the civil disobedience approach embodied in "illegal" filesharing etc., and has the support of the greater part of the public. Why? Because at the same time as global economic trends are in the direction of feudal patterns -- i.e. a few super-rich and the vast majority fairly or very poor -- governments in western countries have nothing to offer, other than more of the same old support for big business and bankrupt banks. This political position is now unsustainable, with the advent of powerful political tools like WikiLeaks. It is in this way that it is a crucial phenomenon that is starting to redefine state-society relations. Western states, as well as non-western, are indeed challenged by what is happening and most seem determined to fight it rather than concede to genuine democratic principles of accountability. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:41, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Do you have citations for those court rulings? I tried and failed to get Canada to charge the movie companies under consumer protection laws. I had some good stuff from Oz, including a lovely speech by their competition commissioner, but no court rulings. Sandy Harris 13:20, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
For Oz, it's Martin Baldwin-Edwards 13:40, 18 January 2011 (UTC)