I Was Only Following "Lawful" Orders—Yahoo!

|

Yesterday, Yahoo founder, Jerry Yang, and company counsel, Michael Callahan, were hauled in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to explain why they had turned over the email records of Chinese dissident journalist Shi Tao to China's communist government. Shi Tao is now spending 10 years in jail for revealing the "state secret" that the government had ordered journalists not to report on the 15th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre. As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post describes it, it was not an edifying spectacle. To wit:

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the corporate titans.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) said he saw a "parallel" between Yahoo and companies that helped the Nazis locate Jews to be sent to concentration camps.

"It is repugnant," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) told the executives. "It would be funny if it weren't so sickening."

Milbank continues:

"Shi Tao's mother is sitting in the first row right behind you," Lantos told the pair. "I would urge you to beg the forgiveness of the mother whose son is languishing behind bars due to Yahoo's actions." Callahan waited a bit before moving slightly and making a perfunctory nod in the direction of Shi's sobbing mother.

In his opening statement, Callahan made no apology for handing over Shi in response to a "lawful order" from the Chinese.

Furious, Lantos interrupted. "These were demands by a police state to make an American company a co-conspirator in having a freedom-loving Chinese journalist put in prison," he said. "Will you continue to use the phrase 'lawful orders,' or will you just be satisfied saying 'orders'?"

"I can refer to it that way if you like," came Callahan's insolent reply. Pressed further, he added: "It's my understanding that Chinese laws are lawful."

Yang fared no better on his corporate citizenship test. "Yahoo collaborated with the Chinese police apparatus in the imprisonment of a freedom-loving Chinese journalist. Do you agree?" Lantos asked.

"Mr. Chairman, I understand where you're coming from," the laconic billionaire answered.

Lantos was just beginning. "Mr. Yang, why is it that after craven cooperation with the Chinese state security apparatus, the provision of false information to Congress, the failure to correct the record . . . the only person punished is an innocent journalist?"

"At the end of the day I feel that everybody was doing the best they can," Yang answered quietly.

Toward the end of the hearing, Yang and Callahan apparently agreed to think about helping Shi Tao and his family. But not because they had recognized any moral imperative to do so, but because another government entity–the House Foreign Affairs Committee–told them that they should do it.

Finally, after three hours, they made a grudging offer to consider payments to the families of Shi and others Yahoo has turned over to the Chinese authorities—because of "its importance to the committee."

Lantos erupted anew. "Look into your own soul and see the damage you have done to an innocent human being and to his family," the chairman said. "It will make no difference to the committee what you do, but it will make you better human beings if you recognize your own responsibility for the enormous damage your policies have created."

All right, now that I've vented, what should American companies do when dealing with tyrannies? It is not unreasonable to argue that opening China to the wider world through trade and communication will hasten the day its Communist government will crumble. But American entrepreneurs should at least recognize the tension and express remorse when individuals directly suffer from their actions–something that Yang and Callahan failed to do yesterday. Shame on them!

Whole Milbank article here.

NEXT: 101 Cities Ranked on Just About Everything

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) said he saw a “parallel” between Yahoo and companies that helped the Nazis locate Jews to be sent to concentration camps.

    Drink!

  2. remorse doesn’t change anything. shi tao still imprisoned whether or not some billionaire sheds a crocodile tear.

  3. edna: I’m not saying “remorse” is in any way sufficient. It’s just the very very least one can expect from these guys and they couldn’t even muster “a crocodile tear.” Calling them “moral pygmies” is being way too nice.

  4. Oh now I’m pissed. At the comparison to companies supplying info that got Jews incarcerated in Nazi Germany, I would have HAD to say something about Republicans who have gotten Muslims incarcerated in Gitmo. Goddammit! I would currently be in jail for contempt of Congress.

    CB

  5. You know, removing the “y” from “tyrannies” turns it into “trannies.” I think American companies should leave the trannies alone. Just sayin.

  6. So, who will chide the corporations when they conspire with our own government?

    From The Register: No email privacy rights under Constitution, US gov claims

    “On October 8, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati granted the government’s request for a full-panel hearing in United States v. Warshak case centering on the right of privacy for stored electronic communications….. The most distressing argument the government makes in the Warshak case is that the government need not follow the Fourth Amendment in reading emails sent by or through most commercial ISPs. The terms of service (TOS) of many ISPs permit those ISPs to monitor user activities to prevent fraud, enforce the TOS, or protect the ISP or others, or to comply with legal process. If you use an ISP and the ISP may monitor what you do, then you have waived any and all constitutional privacy rights in any communications or other use of the ISP. For example, the government notes with respect to Yahoo! (which has similar TOS)”

  7. These jerks in Congress would be pissed if Yahoo had refused to turn over information on American citizens so that they might be tortured by our government, I don’t see where they get off complaining about this.

  8. I’m not familiar with all the details of the case. Did any Yahoo! employee in China have a reasonable expectation that he or she would be at personal risk if they did not comply? Or was Yahoo! China simply at risk of being sued by the Chinese government? Were Yahoo! China’s business privileges at risk? Did Yahoo! China present its users with any disclaimers stating that Yahoo! might not be able to protect the privacy of their emails?

  9. The silence about China’s human rights problems (and Russia’s too, for that matter) from our government has been disappointing. Bush even went so far as to say that Russia’s war in Chechnya and China’s “security” efforts against Muslims in Xinjian Province were part of the War on Terror.

    It’s good to see that the new Congress is putting it back on the agenda.

  10. These jerks in Congress would be pissed if Yahoo had refused to turn over information on American citizens so that they might be tortured by our government, I don’t see where they get off complaining about this.

    Exactly. It’s painfully hypocritical to rant about the tyranny overseas, while advancing tyranny at home.

    Maybe the Chinese should just call it Freedom like Rudy Giuliani does!

    From the NY Times

    “We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do. ”

  11. Libertyplease hits–what is it? Oh yeah, the nail–on the head. Yahoo finked on one person in China who had violated a (bad) Chinese law. U.S. companies provided access to private communications of numberless U.S. citizens who were, or might be, “suspicious” or were, or might be, linked to someone who was, or might be, “suspicious.”

  12. “Look into your own soul and see the damage you have done to an innocent human being and to his family,” the chairman Tom Lantos said. “It will make no difference to the committee what you do, but it will make you better human beings if you recognize your own responsibility for the enormous damage your policies have created.”

    Perhaps Chairman Tom Lantos should do some soul pondering of his own regarding the “enormous damage HIS policies have created.” Fucking politicians!

  13. As other posters have said, I’d appreciate the outrage from Congress more if they applied the same standards at home.

    And joe, when the new Congress actually does something about wiretapping and spying and the PATRIOT act, instead of expending this much outrage on China, you let us know. As usual.

    As for Ron’s question, I think American companies will deal with tyrannies in their own ways. Most will try to be as ethical as possible while still doing business (it’s good for their image). Some will be surprisingly unethical (like Yahoo) and may take a hit for it. Some will be suprisingly ethical and probably never be known for it because they just avoided the business in the first place.

  14. This from a government that imprisons the operators of foreign gambling operations if they happen to change planes in the US? If you want to do business in the US, you have to obey US law. If you want to do business in China, you obey Chineese law. It’s not Yahoo’s job to change the government and laws of China. The people of China need to do that.

  15. It’s too bad your partisan reflexes leave you unable to even support the denunciation of tyranny, Episiarch.

    Come on, you can do it: Good for Congress for calling out the Chinese and the companies who collaborate with them.

  16. Why blackmail Yahoo into helping out financially? The government could just slap a massive tariff on Chinese imports and raise even more money for Tao and his family.

    So let’s focus on one company’s “collaboration” with the Chinese tyranny and ignore our own government’s collaboration with same.

  17. First if you compare this guy who was sent to prison in China for his political views to the dirt bags sitting in GUITMO, you are a whackjob. You may not like the process by which said dirtbags ended up where they are but there is such a thing as a difference in quality of things. If anyone here thinks that this government is in anyway comparable morally to the Chinese, I would invite you to got to China and start your own weblog and start ranting. I would especially encourage you to rant about Chinese government corruption, the treatment of the Tibetans and the virtues of the Fulon Gong religion and be sure to add what a horrible tyranical government the Chinese government is. Please be sure to say anything and everything bad about the Chinese government that you have freely said about the US government. Good luck.

    This is a real morality question. Yahoo didn’t have to give the name over the Chinese. They could have told the Chinese to go fuck themselves. The worst thing that would have happened is they would have been kicked out of China and lost a few billion that the founders would never spend anyway. Spare me the bullshit about how trade will open up China. We have been trading with China for 30 years now and they are not one bit better now than they were then. Further, it is not like trade with China will end because they don’t have Yahoo. The heads of Yahoo had a choice about which side they wanted to be on and they decided their bottom-line is more important than this poor guy’s life. That makes them evil greedy fucks. I don’t care how you justify it.

  18. “Oh now I’m pissed. At the comparison to companies supplying info that got Jews incarcerated in Nazi Germany, I would have HAD to say something about Republicans who have gotten Muslims incarcerated in Gitmo. Goddammit! I would currently be in jail for contempt of Congress.”

    And I would have to say you are a blithering idiot. Almost all of the individuals at Gitmo were detained after being apprehended on the field of battle against American soldiers. That you see some sort of parallel to this shows what a total fuck up you are.

  19. What do these brave Yahoo-decryers have to say about AT&T handing over our information to the secret police at the NSA?

  20. It’s too bad your partisan reflexes leave you unable to even support the denunciation of tyranny, Episiarch.

    So calling out a panel where the quoted politicans were one Dem and 2 GOPers is partisan?

    joe, you really need to get your head fixed. Once an idea gets in, it just can’t get out. That’s not healthy.

    Why should I compliment Congress for calling out a company for collaborating with China when they “collaborate” with China to a certain degree themselves? It’s hypocritical grandstanding.

  21. Come on, you can do it: Good for Congress for calling out the Chinese and the companies who collaborate with them.

    Clap. Clap. Clap.
    That enough for you, joe?
    Now, on with our essay, “Fucking hypocrites in Congress point out splinter in Chinese eye, fail to see log in own.”

  22. I understand the criticism of Yahoo here coming from private citizens – but representatives of the Federal government have no grounds to complain.

    We supported China’s entry into the WTO. We have standard diplomatic relations with China. We openly court Chinese cooperation on regional security issues. We seek out their cooperation in enforcing our intellectual property laws. When Yahoo execs say that they considered China’s laws worthy of respect, every action of their own government relative to China supports them in that statement.

    If China’s laws and government are not legitimate, then we should break off with relations with China, and not support their participation in international organizations.

    Had Yahoo defied the Chinese government, and attempted to buy their way out of any legal difficulty, we would have charged Yahoo’s executives under US corruption laws. If we’re not going to protect US firms that defy the laws of other nations, we should expect them to obey those laws.

  23. “What do these brave Yahoo-decryers have to say about AT&T handing over our information to the secret police at the NSA?”

    Yeah because turning people’s names over to the NSA that might have resulted in their phones being tapped is the same thing as giving the names to the Chinese knowing that it will result in the guy rotting in prison for his political views for 10+ years. Get a clue for God’s sake.

  24. Saudi Arabia is arguably more tyrannical than China, HFAC never dragged the Bssh family through the mud for doing their bidding.

  25. All right, now that I’ve vented, what should American companies do when dealing with tyrannies?

    Ooh, ooh, ask me, I know…

    And even given how horrible the Chinese suppression of the truth is, it is now vastly better since Yahoo and the internet are there. So, what’s so bad about a little collaboration with dictators?

  26. We have been trading with China for 30 years now and they are not one bit better now than they were then.

    I’m inclined to thing the Chinese are significantly better off today than thirty years ago.

  27. Fluffy,

    So if the government supports trade with the country, it is okay to turn over the disident when the police from said country knock at the door? The US support of the country’s entry into the WTO washes your hands of any moral guilt over that? Jesus, I can’t believe I agree with Joe, but he is right about this and you guys are nuts.

  28. “I’m inclined to thing the Chinese are significantly better off today than thirty years ago.”

    Materially yes, but they are no more free.

  29. It’s too bad your partisan reflexes leave you unable to even support the denunciation of tyranny, Episiarch.

    Holy shit, talk about sniveling hypocrisy.

  30. Does our government have diplomatic relations with the Chinese?
    Does our government accept them as the legitimate government of China?
    Has our government not turned over a seat on the UN Security Council to them?
    Does our government not tolerate and even encourage a massive trade deficit with the Chinese?
    Does our government have relations with the democratic government of Taiwan?
    By not recognizing the government on Taiwan, does our government, if effect, recognize the Mainland Chinese government’s claim to control over Taiwan?
    Do not the politicians criticizing Yahoo support these policies?
    If so, then by what right do they, or anyone else supporting these policies criticize Yahoo?

  31. Materially yes, but they are no more free.

    That seems to apply to many Americans. In some respects, Americans have lost freedoms.

    Point is, being better off in some areas is better than not being better off in any areas.

  32. First…you have it backwards, Jamie Kelly. As bad as our government is, it doesn’t compare to the atrocities of the Chinese government.

    Second: I really enjoyed Bailey putting “lawful” in quotation marks. It conjures the natural law/higher law doctrine of American history, and it is rightfully the proper doctrine for criticizing companies who do certain business with dictatorships, Communists, etc.

  33. Oh hypocrisy is so very sweet. These buttwipes who voted for the Iraq War and who continue to support the imprisonment of medical marijuana patients want the owners of a multibillion dollar company to apologize for obeying the law.

    I’ll just bet that the Chinese authorities called those guys up at home and said something like, “Yo guys, we really want to imprison this journalist for telling an innocuous truth. Yeah, I know that we already insisted on essentially automatic mechanisms whereby we could demand this information as part of your business license, but we wanted to make sure that you guys were personally involved in this decision.”

    You know, I’m sure that Congress would have rather that Yahoo not done business on China’s terms at all. They should have taken their legos and gone home and not traded with that awful criminal government that Congress continues to grant “Most Favored Nation” trading status.

    So, were the Congressman really saying that Yahoo should disobey all corrupt laws? Does that mean that they don’t have to cooperate with DEA or NSA investigations anymore? Hooray! Sorry, I meant ‘Yahoo!’

  34. John,
    We don’t know who has been shipped off to some rendition prison as a result of those AT&T wiretaps. We don’t know who has been waterboarded, put in stress positions, deprived of the right of habeas corpus, and held indefinitely as a result of AT&T’s actions. So I suggest that it is you who is lacking in clues.

    I’m not saying don’t denounce China, but at least be honest and logically consistent if you’re going to do so.

  35. Episiarch,

    So calling out a panel where the quoted politicans were one Dem and 2 GOPers is partisan?

    No, calling out ME for giving the bipartisan committee an attaboy as they denounced the tyrants in Beijing, and doing so in the explicitly partisan terms you did, is partisan.

    Come one, let’s hear it: good for these Congressmen for calling out the Chinese and their collaborators, and good for the committee chairman for putting this on the agenda.

    Nope, you won’t even say that. You’d rather there be silence in the face of dictatorship than criticism of it, if it makes the Democrats look good.

    Pathetic partisan hack.

  36. On Congressional hypocrisy–of course you all are right, but, as you also know, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Mike Laursen: Good question. The AP story reports:

    “I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad,” Callahan said.

    Overbroad? That kind of lawyerly daintiness drives me crazy. How about the “local laws are “despotic”?

  37. As bad as our government is, it doesn’t compare to the atrocities of the Chinese government.

    Like, imprisoning people without representation for an indefinite period of time without judicial review and without formal charges?
    Yeah, I see your point! Good one!

  38. Pathetic partisan hack.

    You still haven’t looked up projection yet, have you, joe.

    You specifically said the “new” congress. Remember that, joe? Which means “Democrat-controlled”. Which means partisan. I think wayne said it well:

    Holy shit, talk about sniveling hypocrisy.

  39. Dear John,

    Poq Gai

  40. How to deal with dictatorships is a complicated question.

    Claiming that recognizing their sovereignty and trading with their people is the equivalent of informing on dissenters is the height of stupidity.

    I’m certainly no defender of the Bushes or the Saudis, but as far as I know, no one in the Bush Clan ever informed on any Arabian democracy activists to the Saudi government.

  41. You specifically said the “new” congress.

    Which is, you know, TRUE. The old Congress didn’t do shit, and the new Congress is at least putting these matters out there to bring attention to them.

    Even if it makes your tummy hurt to admit that.

  42. Joe: Hey, look, that guy is beating up an old lady, and that guy is giving a dollar to a homeless guy.

    Episiarch: You partisan hack! Figures you’d make the Democrat look better.

    Joe: Whaaa…?

  43. These were demands by a police state to make an American company a co-conspirator in having a freedom-loving Chinese journalist put in prison.

    I find the demands by the US police apparatus upon American companies to betray their freedom-loving clients even more repugnant.

  44. Which is, you know, TRUE. The old Congress didn’t do shit, and the new Congress is at least putting these matters out there to bring attention to them.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    The new Congress hasn’t done shit in regards to stopping the war, rolling back PATRIOT, or rolling back Bush’s wiretapping et al. They then do this grandstanding to distract people from their lack of action at home, as if castigating some Yahoo bigwigs makes up for that.

    joe, if your tongue was any farther up the Democrats’ asses they’d be using it to speak instead of their own.

  45. To clarify, it sucks that Yahoo turned this guy over. It sucks that my tax dollars help imprison hundreds of thousands of victimless criminals. Sometimes, obeying the law involves inadvertently aiding tyranny. This is especially true when doing business with a corrupt government like China.

    I think Yahoo should be denounced, not for turning this guy over, but for their lax agreement with China. If that’s the only way they can do business in China, well they’ve got the choice to keep their business there and risk losing business here or to win some concessions from China regarding disclosures and such.

    Anyway, my main point is that Congress lacks the moral standing to denounce Yahoo. While they are a far cry from the PRC, their comments about cooperating with criminal governments holds no water while they continue to vote for foreign aid to Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

  46. John,

    First if you compare this guy who was sent to prison in China for his political views to the dirt bags sitting in GUITMO, you are a whackjob.

    Some number of this persons sent to GITMO apparently did not deserve to be there; in the first instance I am thinking of the fairly young teenage children who were for a number of years.

  47. John,

    So yes, I am comparing at least some of the folks who were incarcerated at GITMO with this Chinese man.

  48. Chris Dodd still has a hold on the bill offering immunity to telecoms that cooperated with illegal wiretaps, and has promised to actually conduct a fillibuster if necessary.

    Note to Episiarch: Chris Dodd has absolutely no partisan affiliation, never has, and only someone crushed under the burder of partisan delusions could possibly attach any significance to his actions.

  49. “These jerks in Congress would be pissed if Yahoo had refused to turn over information on American citizens so that they might be tortured by our government, I don’t see where they get off complaining about this.”

    Boy do I love it when libertarians demonstrate once again why absolutely no one outside of their own little (this may even be too much of an understatement) clique takes them seriously. Evidently comparing Guantanamo, which is composed almost entirely of individuals caught on the field of battle, to a gulag state, the most oppressive in the history of mankind, imprisoning millions is considered edgy on this site. I guess three instances of waterboarding since 2003 and Abu Ghraib (whose perpetrators were punished)is the moral equivalent of throwing someone in jail for ten years for mentioning Tianenmen. You people are absolutely fucking pathetic.

    “And joe, when the new Congress actually does something about wiretapping and spying and the PATRIOT act, instead of expending this much outrage on China, you let us know. As usual.”

    Again, the moral equivalence here is so breathtakingly vile, it is pretty much beyond contempt. I guess it would be meaningless to mention that these surveillance programs have passed constitutional muster. It will only be a matter of time before you assholes mention the Chinese constitution and compare George Washington to Mao Tse Tung. For christ sake, none of you morons would be typing any of your stupidity at all if your ridiculous analogies between China and the US were even remotely true. Your sorry asses would be rotting in jail. I guess the US has its gulag in one of the Plain States somewhere in order to keep it hidden from everyone.

    “I would have HAD to say something about Republicans who have gotten Muslims incarcerated in Gitmo.”

    Pointing out the stupidity of this statement would be like beating a dead horse. I guess you forgot the word terrorist after the word Muslim. The notion that the US is just locking up random Muslims is, for lack of a better word, retarded, unless you believe the individuals who claim they were in Al Queda training camps as part of a “mission trip” or to “learn about the Koran” or for “humanitarian purposes” or for any other transparently lame excuse offered by the individuals detained at Gitmo.

  50. Ha, I love it when I pre-butt Episiarch’s partisan hackery.

  51. Jerry Yang should have brought garlic.

  52. I will note that Episiarch never wrote a single comment criticizing the Republican Congress for its lack of attention to the human rights situation in China.

    Not. A. Single. One.

    And now, when Congress actually does put the issue on the agenda, he counts it as a point against them.

    Oh, did I mention that it’s a Democratic Congress taking this up? That’s ok. It goes without saying.

  53. “Some number of this persons sent to GITMO apparently did not deserve to be there; in the first instance I am thinking of the fairly young teenage children who were for a number of years.”

    And which teenager would this be? The one from Canada who went to Afghanistan with his father and brother to kill Americans? The one who was apprehended on the field of battle in possession of a weapon, who was known to have participated in the murder of at least one American soldier. Or the one who joined his father, a member of a known terrorist organizaton, in the fight against American soldiers. Spare me the fucking sob stories. 99% of the people at Gitmo were placed there because they were caught in the act of fighting against American soldiers in Afghanistan.

  54. Ha, I love it when I pre-butt Episiarch’s partisan hackery.

    Yes! Victory claims earlier than ever. joe, not only are you predictable, but you seem to have no comprehension of how stupid these claims make you look.

  55. “I will note that Episiarch never wrote a single comment criticizing the Republican Congress for its lack of attention to the human rights situation in China.’

    What the fuck are you talking about? The Republican congress raised the issue of human rights abuses in China on a regular basis. They passed bills relating to China’s abuse of religious minorities, invited Chinese speakers to appear before commitees in regard to human rights abuses, and regularly lobbied for the release of political prisoners. So please, stow your partisan bullshit.

  56. joe:
    Which party has for the last 30 years regularly pushed for fast-track trade authority with China?
    And which party regularly has big problems with that?
    I’ll be in the back.

  57. First of all, cliquey, large numbers of persons have been released from Guantanamo because it turned out there was no evidence against them.

    This constitutes absolute proof that their detention was unjust, and that they were, in fact, detained for no reason.

    When you’re going to bypass due process, your success rate has to be 100%, or you’ve engaged in tyranny.

    And John –

    Our government does not just “allow trade” with China. It also honors the judgments of its legal system. It also would charge and imprison any Yahoo executive who sought to suborn the Chinese legal system. When you make it a crime in the US to be the victim of extortion in China, you don’t get to grandstand about the fact that companies operating in China try to keep their heads down and get along.

    And I specified that criticism of Yahoo by a private individual such as yourself is perfectly valid. Hate away. They suck. But the US Congress has no grounds for criticizing Yahoo until they change the US Code and amend our trade agreements to empower US companies that fuck with foreign dicatatorships. Because that’s not the current situation.

  58. I wouldn’t try to argue against my point, either, Episiarch.

    If you didn’t so reflexively fall into this partisan hackery, you wouldn’t keep finding yourself in this position.

    You could have said nothing. You could have written, “Good for Congress for denouncing human rights violations.” But no, because it was the Democratic Congress that did something right, you went into one of your constant hissy-fits, and now you find yourself arguing against the denunciation of human rights violations in China.

    I don’t believe for a second that you actually consider it a bad thing for Congress to take this up. I don’t believe for a second that you support the actions of Yahoo.

    But you’re such a reflexive partisan hack, your hatred of Democrats is so blinding, that you marched right of a cliff, principles be damned.

    You should make an effort to put facts first, and not worry about which party looks better in light of those facts. But you can’t, and that’s why this keeps happening to you.

  59. For christ sake, none of you morons would be typing any of your stupidity at all if your ridiculous analogies between China and the US were even remotely true.

    Maybe if you understood what people were saying you wouldn’t post such obtuse crap. People here are complaining that we have issues here at home that we’d like to see addressed with the energy these politicians are expending on China. NOT THAT CHINA AND THE US ARE THE SAME. Get it?

    I will note that Episiarch never wrote a single comment criticizing the Republican Congress for its lack of attention to the human rights situation in China.

    Wow, joe, you are more logic impaired than I thought. Follow if you can:

    As other posters have said, I’d appreciate the outrage from Congress more if they applied the same standards at home.

    That applies to all Congresses, new and old.

    And joe, when the new Congress actually does something about wiretapping and spying and the PATRIOT act, instead of expending this much outrage on China, you let us know. As usual.

    That applies to the new Congress not doing anything about what the old Congress allowed, which is an explicit condemnation of the old–Republican–Congress. See?

    Why is this so difficult for you? Oh, right, because you are insanely partisan and any criticism of the Dems must be praise for the GOP. You live in a 2-dimensional world, joe.

  60. Jamie Kelly,

    IIRC, fast-track trading authority has cut across party lines, with members of both parties supporting and opposing it, and the %s shifting slightly depending on who controlled the White House.

    But, once again, trading with people from China is not remotely the same thing as actively ratting out political dissidents.

  61. Wait, I thought 9/11 changed everything. The Chinese government needed the power to ask us to hand over journalists’ personal emails and communications records so that they can protect Americans Chinese citizens. If we tell people that their private communications are safe if they’re reporting the ‘truth’ then the terrorists will know that free speech is something they can do. And that would give them vital knowledge that would make us weaker.

  62. Temper, temper, Episiarch. You’re flying off the handle.

  63. There you go, walk it back.

  64. But you’re such a reflexive partisan hack

    joe, I challenge you to ask for some informal voting on this thread. The question would be either “who is partisan, Episiarch or joe?”, or “is joe a totally partisan Democrat vs. Episiarch being a totally partisan…”–well, here, I don’t know what you’d put.

    I can no longer tell with your projections about partisanship whether you are actually accusing me of being a Republican (?!?!?!?) or something else. Partisan libertarian? I don’t know, because you get somewhat hysterical.

  65. joe,

    A number of Republicans have been quite critical of the Chinese government, particularly regarding its treatment of Chinese Christians.

  66. I’ve explained the pitfalls you keep falling into many times already, Episiarch.

    You can pretend your ideology renders you impervious to partisanship, or you can so reliably keep fallling into them.

    For my own amusement, I hope you never learn a thing.

  67. “But, once again, trading with people from China is not remotely the same thing as actively ratting out political dissidents.”

    If this is the case, then the Congress should pass legislation specifically immunizing US companies that break Chinese law, and should pass legislation specifying that the US will seize Chinese assets and liquidate them to compensate US companies that lose assets in China due to their defiance of Chinese law.

  68. S.o.S.,

    That’s true, but the previous Congressional leadership never gave them much of a platform.

  69. Syloson,

    Since 9/11, I mean. I can recall some noise coming out of the Republican Congress about China’s human rights record during the 1990s, but it really fell off the radar since Bush realigned our foreign policy after 9/11.

  70. I’ve explained the pitfalls you keep falling into many times already, Episiarch.

    You’ve tried, but you don’t make much sense. However, for my own amusement, I hope you never learn a thing.

  71. And joe:

    joe, I challenge you to ask for some informal voting on this thread. The question would be either “who is partisan, Episiarch or joe?”, or “is joe a totally partisan Democrat vs. Episiarch being a totally partisan…”–well, here, I don’t know what you’d put.

  72. You people are absolutely fucking pathetic.

    I find that the levels or disrespect and logic are inversely proportional in this thread.

  73. Ah, the appeal to popularity. Always the sign of rock-solid thought.

    It really does demonstrate the particular form of partisan blinkers you wear that you would think that asking the readers of Reason Online’s blog whether a libertarian could be a partisan is a good way to get an objective take on the question.

    Talk about assuming your conclusion.

    I’ll use small words for you: assuming that one party cannot ever be better than another and objecting fiercely whenever you see a statement that suggests that is the case is just another version of the partisan tendency to assume that one’s partisan opponents must always be wrong.

    You just have two parties that you’re driven to judge unfairly. You know, like David Broder and Ralph Nader. So?

  74. Come on, joe, stop making excuses:

    joe, I challenge you to ask for some informal voting on this thread. The question would be either “who is partisan, Episiarch or joe?”, or “is joe a totally partisan Democrat vs. Episiarch being a totally partisan…”–well, here, I don’t know what you’d put.

  75. Hey, dogs, who’s better, dogs or cats?

  76. BTW, for all your flailing, you still haven’t been able to actually refute my point, just whine that you don’t like its implications.

    Congressional Democrats are using their platform to talk about human rights in China. The Republicans didn’t, for the past few years.

    That is an objective fact. You can’t acknowledge that fact, but you can’t refute it, either. So you shoot the messenger.

  77. Ferrets! Dogs and cats are just the same thing man.

  78. Ah, the appeal to popularity. Always the sign of rock-solid thought.

    Joe, you are projecting and it is consuming threadspace which could be used for more interesting discussions.

    You are partisan. I know this because I can reliably predict your response to an issue based upon the (D) or (R) involved, rather than the issue.

  79. That is an objective fact.

    Do a search on Thomas for “Chinese” from the 109th Congress. Plenty of examples of Republicans using their platforms to talk about human rights in China.

  80. I love how the Chinese are always ready to take the full blame for everything that goes wrong between us. Whether it is the imprisoning of Chinese dissidents or the next round of toy recalls, it’s never the Americans with dirty hands. Oh no, it’s those guys who do the nasty things. It’s them that put the lead paint on the toys, never mind the designers who put the small magnets in those other toys or the corporations that sought the lowest bidders and the quickest turnarounds. It’s them that imprisoned the dissidents, not those who provided their whereabouts.

    Corporations are not good citizens, but they are damn good at following the law when it’s in their interests. Kind of like politicians, only more profitable.

  81. Our government does not just “allow trade” with China. It also honors the judgments of its legal system. It also would charge and imprison any Yahoo executive who sought to suborn the Chinese legal system. When you make it a crime in the US to be the victim of extortion in China, you don’t get to grandstand about the fact that companies operating in China try to keep their heads down and get along.

    What I’m sayin’. Our government allows, nay, encourages, American companies to operate in China. I’d say doing business in a country is a de facto agreement to comply with it’s laws. I don’t like that the journalist wound up in prison, but realistically, what else could they have done? Everybody, including our government, understands what kind of government China has. If they can’t accept that doing business in a country requires compliance with it’s laws, then why allow trade with that country? Seriously, did nobody see this coming?

    Sorry, but promoting free trade and then screaming Purity Raped when a company complies with the conditions that make it possible strikes me as hypocritical, to say the least.

  82. aaron,

    As I said, there are individual Republicans who feel very strongly about the issue.

    But holding a committee hearing like this not onlydemonstrates concern about the issue among the leadership and the party as a whole, but also gives the issue a higher profile.

    And since there’s not a whole heckuva lot our govenrnment can do to push for rights in China except for symbolic politics and public diplomacy, it’s good to see them doing what they can.

  83. joe, get back on the meds. Yesterday you seemed reasonable, or maybe it was that Dondero made my head hurt more, but clearly today is not your best day. Usually I find your arguments to hold at least a kernel of reason, but today’s insistance that Episiarch’s remarks are based on the political party he supports are unfounded and worse, tedious. The number one Congressional douche quoted, and criticized by Episiarch, is a GODDAMNED REPUBLICAN!!

  84. @Unwilling to leave your own handle.

    “Almost all of the individuals at Gitmo were detained after being apprehended on the field of battle against American soldiers.”

    You would know that… how? You must have access to a lot more information about the detainees at Gitmo than the rest of us. You get it from the guys in the black helicopters, did ya’?

    CB

  85. Randolph Carter’s preference for ferrets mean he cannot possibly demonstrate bias in his treatment of dogs and cats.

    No, I don’t think that makes any sense, either.

    But someone here has based his entire self-perception on a slightly modified version of that statement.

  86. “Hey, dogs, who’s better, dogs or cats? ”

    Dogs, of course, you partisan hack, fuc#ing cat :-).

  87. sixstring,

    I’m not accusing him of being a Republican partisan.

    I’m accusing him of bringing the same hackery with which Democrats treat stories about Republicans, and with which Republicans treat stories about Democrats, to stories about either party.

    It is a fact – a demonstrable, objective fact – the this Congress is highlighting Chinese human rights abuses, and American companies’ involvement with them, more than the previous Congress. That fact does not become false, nor the observation of that fact biased, because Episiarch prefers to think that neither party can ever do anything laudable.

  88. joe | November 7, 2007, 10:33am | #
    It’s too bad your partisan reflexes leave you unable to even support the denunciation of tyranny, Episiarch.

    Come on, you can do it: Good for Congress for calling out the Chinese and the companies who collaborate with them.

    Y’know, joe, our big beef with the Democrats on the Hill isn’t exactly their partisanship. It’s actually their lack thereof on issues on which they and we theoretically agree. The Democratic party is supposed to be the party of civil liberties (accusations of PC fascism aside) so we’re a little disappointed when they get into power and don’t stand up more vigorously to this administration.

    I’d like to see Verizon’s CEO up there beside him for unlawfully handing over personal info to the US government.

    Sure, China’s human rights transgressions are worse, but the gap would be wider if team blue were being a better check and/or balance on Shrubby’s baser instincts.

  89. I think we should break ties with China solely based on the fact that it was fucking Nixon’s idea in the first place.

    That goes doubly for all other Nixonian ideas, triply for the WoD…

  90. lunchstealer,

    I’d like to see them stand up more, too. That’s why I’ve bumped Chris Dodd up to the top of my list of primary candidates.

    He introduced the bill to restore habeas corpus and take away the President’s authority to declare people enemy combatants without a hearing, and he’s blocking the FISA bill over the immunity it offers to telecom companies.

  91. joe, I wouldn’t call it partisan hackery. It’s more extreme cynicism – by nature a partisan hack shills unrepentantly for a party. I don’t think Episiarch is shilling for the Libertarian party, he’s just understandably nonplussed with both parties.

    That being said, anyone who says they’re unbiased is a liar. I’ll admit that although I’m Mr. libertarian, I still give Republicans the benefit of the doubt over Democrats, mostly from bad personal experiences with extreme partisan Democrats when I was younger. But whatevs, I’m sure I’ll grow out of it.

  92. Joe,
    I’m talking about legislation that actually passed. Symbolic, sure, but as you say, it raises the profile.

    But it is not an objective fact that Republicans never talked about human rights in China.

  93. You know, if Yahoo couldn’t borrow a spine for the day, they could have at least lost the records. Oooops, sorry, must have been deleted.

    Joe, had a Columbia Crest Reserve Merlot last weekend. It was pretty darn good.

  94. In fact, Chris Smith authored a resolution that passed the House in the 109th Congress on this very topic.

    Anyone want to guess who the sole “no” vote was? 😉

  95. TWC,

    Are you into champagnes? Had a ’95 Grand Dame last week. I usually don’t run with folks who routinely sample $130 bottles, but was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

  96. He introduced the bill to restore habeas corpus and take away the President’s authority to declare people enemy combatants without a hearing, and he’s blocking the FISA bill over the immunity it offers to telecom companies.

    Huh. Hadn’t heard about that, but I haven’t paid much attention to the also-rans in the Democratic primary (I haven’t been able to watch any of the debates).

    Mostly I’m just wishing that they could do better than Hillary. Seriously, if you throw in the VP slot, we’ve had two families in the top slot for 27 years right now, and I’d like to keep that under 30.

  97. I don’t care that the Congress is Democrat. What matter is these weasels get called out for it. What is wrong with the Congress saying to China, “yeah we will trade with you but when you ask one of our companies to rat out a journalist to your police state, we are going to tell you to fuck off.” What exactly are the Chicoms going to do about it? They need us and our market a hell of a lot more than we need them.

    Yahoo made a loathsome decision. People say well it is okay for private citizens to criticize but not the Congress. Cry me a rivet. Yahoo is a billion dollar corporation answerable to no one beyond the markets. If not Congress then who? They certainly are not going to listen to anyone else. These smarmy little pricks deserved a lot worse than being kicked around by Tom Lantos, but hey I will take what I can get.

    TWC,

    I had some Georgian (the country not the state) dry red the other day. It was fantastic. Very different and earthy. I can’t say enough about how good it was. Best $13 bottle of wine I have ever had.

  98. Also for all you people who think it was so wonderful and Yahoo was just following the law, what would you think about a company that bought and made money off of products stolen from the Tibetens or made by slave labor? I am sure either would be totally lawful under Chinese law. Is that okay to? We do trade with the Chinese after all? I guess you can do whatever the hell you want and never have to worry about morality, since once you start trading with a country you are duty bound to abide by ever law no matter how vile. I have to admit that is damn convienent for your typical greedy internet trash billionaire.

  99. Ratting out the Chinese journalist is bad enough, but have you seen Yahoo’s site redesign? Heads must roll!

  100. @John

    I guess you can do whatever the hell you want and never have to worry about morality, since once you start trading with a country you are duty bound to abide by ever law no matter how vile.

    How would you feel about a foreign company that operated in the United States deciding it could pick and choose which of our laws it was going to comply with?

    Let me emphasize that – Yahoo! doesn’t just trade with China, they operate within the jurisdiction of the Chinese government.

    Sorry, but compliance with the law is the price of the dinner if you’re going to be operating in a foreign country.

  101. I had some Georgian (the country not the state) dry red the other day. It was fantastic.

    It’s been ten years, but I had an oustanding Georgian red wine on a business trip to Moscow. But I’ve never seen one in the US. Lot’s of hardcore wine enthusiats have never even heard of them.

  102. Hey, dogs, who’s better, dogs or cats?

    I’ve never had cat, but the dog I ate was quite tasty.

  103. That goes doubly for all other Nixonian ideas, triply for the WoD…

    Does that mean you don’t want to bring back this?

  104. “How would you feel about a foreign company that operated in the United States deciding it could pick and choose which of our laws it was going to comply with?”

    We could kick them out just like the Chinese are free to kick out Yahoo. The point is that Yahoo when given the choice of outing an innocent person and sending them to jail for 10 years and getting kicked out, choose to out the person in the name of a few bucks. That makes them vile. I am not saying the Chinese don’t have a right to kick out companies that don’t abide by their laws, no matter how immoral they are. What I am saying is that if operating in China means having to rat out inocent people to the Chicom police state, then the only moral option is to not operate in China.

  105. Anybody can buy a good bottle of $60 wine.

    Finding a good $9-$13 wine is the key.

    You’re not going to see anyone kicking around Washington State wines anymore. The whole Pacific rim – Washington, California, Austrialia, NZ, Chile – grows some nice grapes.

  106. Carick,

    I found the Georgian wine in a local Whole Foods here in Washington. I read about how good Georgian wine is in a recent biography of Stalin of all places. So, I decided to try it when I saw it on the shelf.

  107. Mr. Carter,

    True skepticism elevates facts over narratives, not just substitutes one narrative for another.

    Perhaps partisan isn’t the most precise word for the blind adherence to a narrative that bashes both parties rather than just one of them, but it functions exactly the same way.

    In practice, how would a Republican hack respond any differently to my observation about the new Congress paying more attention to human rights in China than a pox-on-both-houses non-partisan partisan like Episiarch?

    Believing that your ideology immunizes you to universal human pitfalls is a dangerous, dishonest business.

  108. True story:

    On my first or second trip to Moscow, my co-worker and I are sitting alone in a meeting room getting ready to leave for lunch when the back of my chair breaks (a bolt broke or something like that). My co-worker says we’ll need to tell someone about the broken chair, but I give him a big grin and tell him not to worry — the chair will be fixed before we get back.

    He just stares at me, so I tell him the old joke about the US businessman staying in a Russian hotel. The businessman is bitching to himself that there aren’t enough towels in the bathroom. When the businessman comes back from a day of meetings, he finds the bathroom well stocked with towels.

    When we returned from lunch that day, my chair was fixed.

  109. Believing that your ideology immunizes you to universal human pitfalls is a dangerous, dishonest business.

    Fucking awesome. joe, your consistent, perfect projection is a gift that you don’t even know you are giving.

  110. “They need us and our market a hell of a lot more than we need them. ”

    I am not so sure of this. Fifteen years ago, yes. Today, no.

    I prefer two buck Chuck when it comes to wine. It tastes like piss going in and feels like barbed wire coming out. A real man’s wine.

  111. Joe,

    Be honest, do you really think they care about human rights in China or was it just fun to bash a corporation? Yahoo deserved it, but I would not read any noble motives into the Democrats on this. Hell, if they are that concerned about human rights, why don’t they ever say anything about Cuba other than arguing to life the embargo so that Yahoo can give names of Cubans to Castro’s police state?

    “Believing that your ideology immunizes you to universal human pitfalls is a dangerous, dishonest business.”

    Very true Joe. Please give a list of Democrats who have fallen prey to such. I would be curious to hear you admit any fault in a Democrat.

  112. It tastes like piss going in and feels like barbed wire coming out.

    Wait! That’s my description of beer.

  113. “Wait! That’s my description of beer.”

    Well, the good ones, anyway.

  114. “I am not so sure of this. Fifteen years ago, yes. Today, no.”

    The US imported 287 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods in 2006. It exported 57 billion dollars in goods. $57 Billion of exports out of a 13+ trillion dollar economy. The Chinese would be in deep shit if they ever lost the ability to sell to the US. The US would hardly notice not trading with the Chinese.

    http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html#2006

  115. “What I am saying is that if operating in China means having to rat out inocent people to the Chicom police state, then the only moral option is to not operate in China.”

    This is a perfectly reasonable position, and I have to say that I agree with it.

    The problem is that our government does everything it can to faciliate your competitors’ trade with China.

    If a retailer decided [for example] that it didn’t want to stock Chinese goods, because of the likelihood of slave-produced material being in the supply chain, or because the Chinese state uses the proceeds of trade to help it repress dissidents, that retailer would get to feel very good about itself – for the two weeks it would take Wal-Mart to put it out of business.

    The same government that sets up trade conditions that mandate investment in China as a competitive necessity in many industries should not then turn around and bitch because companies that do business in China are forced to submit to unjust laws.

  116. John,

    True enough, but the dollar is in free fall, and the ChiComs hold about $1.4 Trillion dollars in trade surplus. They have very potent economic weapons at their disposal.

  117. I think we ought to call up every other country in the world and inform them that we don’t expect our companies to operate in accordance with their laws.

  118. Fluffy,

    You make good points but I think Yahoo is a special case. Further, buying goods of dubious origen, while bad is not as bad as turning a name over the the secret police. Second, Yahoo is in the computer not the retail business. Being kicked out of China would not have affected its business elswhere or ability to compete with say Google. It actually might have helped if they would have stood up the Chinese and say Google had not. Just imagine the great ad campaign that Yahoo could have done making fun of Google’s don’t be evil slogan.

    You bring up good points about complex scenerios. This was not a complex scenerio. It was one name. Yahoo should not have turned it over.

  119. “They have very potent economic weapons at their disposal.”

    The problem is they can’t do anything to the US without it boomeranging on them. IF the US economy went into a serious recession, it would put their economy into a recession. Ten percent annual growth rates are the only thing keeping a lid on the Chinese population. If the Chinese economy ever seriously went into the tank, you might get a real revolution and chaos. The US doesn’t suffer from that danger. Long term, the Chinese are in a real bind in that regard. They talk a good nationalist game and have gotten their people to buy into them being local bad boy. But if they ever did anything to back that up like invade Taiwan, they would totally screw themselves.

  120. @John

    What I am saying is that if operating in China means having to rat out inocent people to the Chicom police state, then the only moral option is to not operate in China.

    What Fluffy said. Seriously, would Microsoft, or Google, or Cisco, or any of Yahoo!’s competitors have done anything different? Would they be able to afford to do anything different and still compete? “Free Trade”, I’m afraid, means that a business that refuses to comply with the local laws forfeits it’s position to a business that does. Don’t make any mistake about that. If Yahoo! hadn’t complied, they’d have lost their position to someone who would. It’s easy enough to grab your weenie and get on your moral high-horse on Monday morning, but objectively Yahoo! was between a rock and a hard place on this one. I’m not saying I condone what they did, but someone, sooner or later, was going to be put in this position eventually. To expect otherwise is to demand to have your cake and eat it, too.

  121. From an organization that clearly dislikes Yahoo.

    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=14884

    Reporters Without Borders added: “Information supplied by Yahoo! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate.”

    Translated into English by the Dui Hua Foundation (which works to document the cases of Chinese political prisoners), the verdict reveals that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided the Chinese investigating organs with detailed information that apparently enabled them to link Shi’s personal e-mail account (huoyan-1989@yahoo.com.cn) and the specific message containing information treated as a “state secret” to the IP address of his computer.

    Yahoo ! Holdings (Hong Kong) is subject to Hong Kong legislation, which does not spell out the responsibilities in this kind of situation of companies that provide e-mail services. Nonetheless, it is reportedly customary for e-mail service and Internet access providers to transmit information to the police about their clients when shown a court order.

    Tests carried out by Reporters Without Borders seem to indicate that the servers used for the Yahoo.com.cn e-mail service, from which the information about Shi was extracted, are located on the Chinese mainland.

    I’m a hardcore 1st ammendment supporter. I also have first hand experience doing business in Russia and China. While I really dislike what happened here, I can’t see how the founder of a global corporation is guilty of moral wrong-doing when the local Chinese employees of a Chinese company respond to a Chinese court order and provide data from a file server located in mainland China.

  122. John,

    What do you think would happen to consumer inflation in the US if we did not have the Chinese?

  123. Sorry if this has been addressed further up thread.

    I wonder if the visible lack of remorse on the part of Yang and Callahan are not part of a more shrewd move.

    Scenario:
    Yahoo! complies with a (bad) Chinese law that gets a man thrown in jail for something that is legal in the US.

    Yahoo! has two options:
    1) Admit that it was a bad move but that it had no real recourse. This would have ended the Congressional grilling and questioning. It also would have not allowed the hearing to progress to it’s full potential.

    2) Admit no wrong doing because you were following the “law”. Here is where it gets interesting. Yahoo! was just told by Rep Lantos, “Will you continue to use the phrase ‘lawful orders,’ or will you just be satisfied saying ‘orders’?” In other words, he just gave them a pass to disregard laws in other nations, and potentially the US as being “unlawful” if Yahoo! feels it would be in their best interest to not comply. When next the DHS requests IP addresses of users Yahoo! can point to Lantos’ statement as an OK to disregard the request as being an “unlawful order”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending these guys’ actions (or lack thereof), simply trying to see some light in them.

  124. Pig Manix,

    What a moral copout. I am sorry but “Well somebody else would have done it” doesn’t feed the bulldog. Further, what if every American or Western technology company said no to the Chinese? What would the Chinese do? They would have to back down or go without our tech, which would really hurt. Like I said above, it is not like Yahoo would have gone out of business had they lost their ability to operate in China. The Chinese market is a fraction of the US market and standing up to the Chicoms would probably have helped their US business.

  125. “What do you think would happen to consumer inflation in the US if we did not have the Chinese?”

    Not a god damned thing. There are tons of people out there dying to sell their goods to us. What you don’t think they make cheap crap in India or Indonesia? The Chinese are a paper tiger.

  126. John,

    I remain unconvinced.

  127. “2) Admit no wrong doing because you were following the “law”. Here is where it gets interesting. Yahoo! was just told by Rep Lantos, “Will you continue to use the phrase ‘lawful orders,’ or will you just be satisfied saying ‘orders’?” In other words, he just gave them a pass to disregard laws in other nations, and potentially the US as being “unlawful” if Yahoo! feels it would be in their best interest to not comply. When next the DHS requests IP addresses of users Yahoo! can point to Lantos’ statement as an OK to disregard the request as being an “unlawful order”.”

    I think you make a good point. Of course you hvae to understand what kind of corporate weasels these guys are. They absolutely would tell DHS to go screwthemselves even if doing so resulted in a ton of dead Americans because they no good and well that the US is a free country and DHS won’t do anything about it. They didn’t screw with the Chinese because they knew the Chinese would screw with them. Moreover, telling the Chinese off won’t get you many friends in the big money leftists circles even if doing so does save some guy’s life. Telling DHS to screw off? That buys you some real street cred there.

  128. Wayne,

    Even if the Chinese could destroy the US economy or put it into a depression tomorow, what would that get them? The US has had depressions before. There is no danger of a revolution. If, however, 100 million Chinese lost their jobs tommorow, the Chinese leadership wouldn’t just be getting bad press they would be hanging from lampposts. That is the difference. The stakes are just higher for them than they are for the US.

  129. What hypocrites! Did they just not subpeona google for the search histories of american citizens?

    nmg

  130. John,

    Be honest, do you really think they care about human rights in China or was it just fun to bash a corporation?

    Tom Lantos? Do I think Tom Lantos actually cares about human rights? Um, yes. Yes, I do.

    Hell, if they are that concerned about human rights, why don’t they ever say anything about Cuba other than arguing to life the embargo so that Yahoo can give names of Cubans to Castro’s police state?

    Well, they do. But since there aren’t any American companies doing business in Cuba, much less any companies turning in dissidents to the Cuban government, it’s not surprising that the committee would find more of a reason to bash companies that behave badly in China.

    Episiarch,

    It’s getting old watching you write the word “projection” every time you get pwned.

  131. Can we now expect prosecutors to employ the same high-falutin’ “moral responsibility” argument against US telecoms?

  132. What a moral copout. I am sorry but “Well somebody else would have done it” doesn’t feed the bulldog. Further, what if every American or Western technology company said no to the Chinese?

    Uh-huh. And that’s going to happen – when?

    What would the Chinese do?

    Maybe business with an Indian corporation? You think America is their only option?

  133. John,

    Please give a list of Democrats who have fallen prey to such. A good example might be Hillary Clinton’s comment about not being “the type of wife who stays home and bakes cookies.” That was pretty demeaning to stay-at-home mothers, and it’s tough to believe she would have been so thoughtless if she didn’t perceive herself as being immune to gender insensitivity because of her feminist background.

  134. It’s getting old watching you write the word “projection” every time you get pwned.

    It never gets old watching you claim victory, joe. Beat your chest some more, it’s great. Would the monkey like a banana?

  135. They absolutely would tell DHS to go screwthemselves even if doing so resulted in a ton of dead Americans because they no good and well that the US is a free country and DHS won’t do anything about it.

    Telling DHS to screw off? That buys you some real street cred there.

    John,
    I hope you remember your position when the DHS (under your despised lefty leader Clinton) starts looking into the records of people who accessed smith-wesson.com to determine who might be is a “terrorist” within the US borders. Of course by then, your ilk will have planted the seeds for the disarmament of the public. But hey, it’s for the good of America; right?

  136. Moreover, telling the Chinese off won’t get you many friends in the big money leftists circles even if doing so does save some guy’s life.

    Huh?

    John, if you’re going to opine about lefties, you should make an effort to actually familiarize yourself with what they’re saying.

    You don’t think the people with the Free Tibet stickers and the Stop Wal Mart tee-shirts support opposition to the Chinese government?

    Swing and a miss.

  137. Yeah, whatever. Projection, claim victory, projection, claim victory, wash, rinse repeat.

    You haven’t tried to back up the position you were trying so hard to argue this morning for a few hours now. Just blow out chaff like this.

    That’s probably a wise move. You really backed yourself into a corner with your partisan hackery back upthread.

  138. Ah, the appeal to popularity. Always the sign of rock-solid thought.

    Hey, “Trust democracy.”

  139. Yeah, whatever. Projection, claim victory, projection, claim victory, wash, rinse repeat.

    Exactly, joe. Do you underatand now? This is exactly what you do. I merely point it out, yet you see it as my pattern, and don’t realize I am merely pointing out yours.

    The fact that you can’t understand this is what makes you very entertaining, but very sad at the same time.

  140. Yahoo’s choices are obey the government (in every country it operates in), or don’t do business there. Those are the only choices. Now, they sounded insensitive in the hearing in question, but that doesn’t change the fact that they probably had no choice but to comply if they wanted to do business in China.

  141. The point is that Yahoo when given the choice of outing an innocent person and sending them to jail for 10 years and getting kicked out, choose to out the person in the name of a few bucks.

    How did Yahoo know he was innocent? Somebody subpoenas you, does that make you responsible for the conduct & outcome of the trial? How do you know what other evidence there might be concerning the person in question? How do you even know what charges might be proferred?

    I am not saying the Chinese don’t have a right to kick out companies that don’t abide by their laws, no matter how immoral they are. What I am saying is that if operating in China means having to rat out inocent people to the Chicom police state, then the only moral option is to not operate in China.

    Then what country can you safely operate a business in? Because every country has that power. You can’t be responsible for where the operation of the laws of a jurisdiction takes things.

    It’s not like Yahoo was developing for a country a specific tool of oppression. They did something concerning one person, and police state or no, any country might screw over one individual! When it gets to constructing death camps, then let me know. If all you got is one guy in jail for 10 years, show me a country where there’s not a single innocent person in jail for 10 years, huh?

  142. Still not trying to argue the point, eh?

    Good move. Your hackery really made an ass of you.

    Barking at me for saying it was good for the new Congress to highlight American complicity in human rights violations – what the hell were you thinking?

    Oh, right, you aren’t talking about that anymore.

    But remember, I’m the one who let his partisanship run away with me. Mmm-hmm.

  143. but, as you also know, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Two Wongs don’t make a white.

  144. I’m torn.

    I like private citizens basically giving COngressional Committees all the respect they deserve, but

    Did they have to do it in defense of ratting someone out to the goddam ChiComs?

  145. The point is that Yahoo when given the choice of outing an innocent person and sending them to jail for 10 years and getting kicked out, choose to out the person in the name of a few bucks. That makes them vile.

    I don’t like to rain on your shit parade here John but I’m going to. Yahoo! was served a warrant to release data on an individual. I am pretty damned sure the warrant didn’t say “for violation of gag-order 153.7a — Releasing information to Foreign Journalists, conviction punishable with 10 in prison.”

    If Yahoo! (or AOL) were served with a warrant for the email records on John Kluge in the US for investigation in a violation of a US law should they give it up? If not, why not? If so, then how is it different than Yahoo! complying with local laws where it operates? If they do and your happy ass is arrested for something that would be legal in, say Singapore, would that make them “vile”?

    I await your answer to all three questions.

  146. Mike Laursen,

    “Trust Democracy” isn’t an appeal to popularity. It has nothing to do with the popular position being right.

    The public gets it wrong when asked. A lot. George W. Bush is going to finish his second term in 14 months.

  147. John,

    These days the majority of Chinese trade is not with the U.S. That has been the case for a few years now at least.

    Anyway, some trade war between China and the U.S. would end up hurting both nations and would be incredibly stupid to boot.

    Were the children who were released from GITMO in 2004 “dirt bags?”

  148. But remember, I’m the one who let his partisanship run away with me. Mmm-hmm.

    Whew. For a minute there, I thought you might change your pattern, but you stayed right on course. Can’t say you’re not consistent, joe! Robotically, mindlessly consistent, but hey, that’s something.

  149. I’m going to post it again, just to rub Episiarch’s face in it.

    The silence about China’s human rights problems (and Russia’s too, for that matter) from our government has been disappointing. Bush even went so far as to say that Russia’s war in Chechnya and China’s “security” efforts against Muslims in Xinjian Province were part of the War on Terror.

    It’s good to see that the new Congress is putting it back on the agenda.

    This is the expression of blind partisanship that he simply couldn’t let pass.

    What exactly is the problem with that statement again, Episiarch? Please, fill us in. It’s obviously terribly biased and unfair, a vertable buffet of delusion based on party loyalty, but for the slower among us, would you care to explain how?

    I don’t think you will. Hack.

  150. Tick tock.

    Tick tock.

  151. You’ve done a great job telling everyone that my comment was biased.

    But you can’t actually show us. Why do you think that might be?

    Do you think maybe there could be something else to explain your hysterics?

  152. While I really dislike what happened here, I can’t see how the founder of a global corporation is guilty of moral wrong-doing when the local Chinese employees of a Chinese company respond to a Chinese court order and provide data from a file server located in mainland China.

    Hiding behind the law doesn’t make immoral behavior moral. Returning runaway slaves to their masters was morally abhorrent even when the law required it, turning Jews over to the Gestapo was morally abhorrent even when the law required it, and turning Shi Tao’s e-mails over to the Chinese was abhorrent even though the law required it.

  153. Yahoo! was served a warrant to release data on an individual. I am pretty damned sure the warrant didn’t say “for violation of gag-order 153.7a — Releasing information to Foreign Journalists, conviction punishable with 10 in prison.”

    Nonsense. It was no secret why they wanted information on Tao. Come on, people are not machines that simply need to comply with any “lawful order” whether Chinese or American. We have (or should have) judgement to assess the situation and understand the moral implications of our actions. All this “lawful order” crap I thought had been dealt with long ago. Apparently a large number of people still feel that as long as what someone is doing is legally condoned or commanded, it’s ok. Sad really – we don’t need a bunch of people running around blindly following laws.

    If Yahoo! (or AOL) were served with a warrant for the email records on John Kluge in the US for investigation in a violation of a US law should they give it up? If not, why not?

    Well, unless we’re back to the robotic following of laws, the obvious answer is “it depends.” They would have to use their judgment to assess the situation and determine if, with the information they have (including their knowledge of the prevailing legal climate, past events, etc.) whether complying was moral or not. If not, then no, they should refuse.

  154. Two Wongs don’t make a white.

    But two Wrights made an airplane!

  155. “Trust Democracy” isn’t an appeal to popularity. It has nothing to do with the popular position being right.

    Huh? You’re definition of “Democracy” does not include the concept that a democracy is a system that conducts voting where the most popular choice wins?

  156. I wish Kerry would weigh in. I’d like her take on being a journalist in a police state, and what expectation of privacy she had.

  157. Were the e-mail records the only reason that Shi Tao was arrested?

  158. Can we just settle this once and for all? Episiarch, you made a stupid accusation and won’t admit it. joe, you can be a smug, condescending prick. Syloson of Samos, quit changing your damn handle. Rimfax, your handle sounds dirty. lunchstealer, I was going to eat that. Taktix?, copyright laws are oppressive and stifle creativity and innovation.

    Whew.

  159. Furthermore, if Yahoo! had refused to turn over the records and was summarily booted from an internet presence in China would that have been a good outcome?

  160. Here is what actually happened.

    Updated Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has accused Yahoo! of going out of its way to help Chinese authorities to convict a “dissident journalist”.

    Shi Tao was sentenced in April to 10 years imprisonment for “divulging state secrets” partly on the basis of evidence supplied by Yahoo!. Reporters Without Borders said it “provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him”.

    “We already knew that Yahoo! collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well,” the press freedom organisation said.

    Yahoo! is attempting to downplay the row by saying it was simply complying with local laws in assisting the Chinese authorities. Yahoo! Spokeswoman Mary Osako said: “Just like any other global company, Yahoo! must ensure that its local country sites operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based.”

    Tiananmen dissident link
    According to court papers, Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. gave Chinese investigators information that linked information treated as a “state secret” to the IP address of Shi’s computer via his use of Yahoo!mail. Shi, 37, and a former staffer on the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News) was convicted in April of sending foreign websites the text of a message from the authorities warning journalists of the dangers of “social destabilisation” from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

    Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) is subject to Hong Kong legislation, which fails to detail the responsibilities of ISPs in these situations. Nonetheless, it is reportedly customary for ISPs to hand over information to the police if confronted by a court order, regardless of whether it is enforceable or not. Yahoo!’s actions in the case raise questions about how far Western companies will go in collaborating with state repression.

    Reporters Without Borders said: “Yahoo! will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate. But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations? How far will it go to please Beijing?”

    “Information supplied by Yahoo! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate.”

    Last month Yahoo! acquired a large stake in the Chinese internet firm Alibaba for approximately $1bn. Reporters Without Borders has written several times to Yahoo! executives in an attempt to alert it to the ethical issues raised by its Chinese investments. These letters have so far received no answer. ?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/07/yahoo_china_dissident_case/

    Yahoo is not even subject to Chinese law, but Hong Kong Law. They just did it to curry favor with the Chicoms so they could make more money. They had a legally valid reason to say no but chose not to because they wanted to kiss the Chicom’s asses. So much for the “they were just following orders” defense. Moreover, it is pretty god damned pathetic that a bunch of so called libertarians will argue that it was okay to send a man to prison for 10 years because the “law said so”. I guess the first judge who ignores minimum mandatories in the US out of pricipal will draw the scorn of the law and order Reasonites.

    Jennifer and Joe are exactly right on this one.

  161. Oh, and the proper response when dealing with the Chinese government is not to comply with the request. Rather, it should be, “Who do I make the check out to?”

  162. Mike Laursen,

    What part of “the people get things wrong. A lot” didn’t you understand?

    C’mon, you can puzzle this out. I know you can.

  163. Hiding behind the law doesn’t make immoral behavior moral.

    Come on, people are not machines that simply need to comply with any “lawful order” whether Chinese or American.

    OK, a short thought experiment.

    The CEO of a global corporation based in the US tells the employees of a subsidiary in another country not to obey the laws of the country in which they are citizens.

    The local employees of the subsidiary then refuse to comply with a court order. The law enforcement officers of the host country are not amused. So they shut down the subsidiary, seize the assests of the company, and jail their own citizens for interefering with official acts.

    Our CEO is now a hero to everyone everywhere . . . . . Bullshit.

    You can make a rational argument that Yahoo could shut down its operations in China. So could all non-Chinese companies through out the world. Then the Chinese people would be left with ISPs solely owned and operated in China. That’s got to make things so much better for them.

  164. Carick,

    That is a nice fantasy but that is not what happened here. Read the facts of the case. They didn’t have to turn the name over. They were a Hong Kong company not a Chinese one. They had a legit legal argument to say no. They just turned it over to kiss ass and make money.

  165. Yahoo is not even subject to Chinese law, but Hong Kong Law.

    John, perhaps you missed the minor event of Britain giving Hong Kong back to China.

  166. “John, perhaps you missed the minor event of Britain giving Hong Kong back to China.”

    They still have separate legal systems dumb ass. Perhaps you missed the whole “one nation two systems” agreement that went with the handover.

  167. They were a Hong Kong company not a Chinese one.

    That’s like saying a company incorporated in Delaware is not a US company.

  168. John,
    Please read Carrick’s post regarding the location of the datastores (servers). They were apparently on the mainland, not in Hong Kong.

  169. joe, you can be a smug, condescending prick.

    It’s not alway easy, but when I put my mind to it, yeah, I really can be, can’t I?

    If you don’t smack the dog when he piddles on the rug, he’s just going to keep piddling on the rug.

    Be fair, be polite, and I’m the nicest guy you’ll ever debate politics with.

  170. They still have separate legal systems dumb ass. Perhaps you missed the whole “one nation two systems” agreement that went with the handover.

    Yeah, I always had a lot of confidence that Beijing would really leave their grubby hands off Hong Kong.

  171. Carick,

    You are an idiot or a troll or both. Hong Kong and China still have separate legal systems. Companies that operate in Hong Kong are subject to Hong Kong law not Chinese law. There is a difference. Yahoo had a legitimate legal argument that since it was a holding company based in Hong Kong and Hong Kong law did not require them to turn over the names, they didn’t have to. They routinely turn over all names to the Chinese government because they want to curry favor with the Chinese governement, not because they are legally required to. This was about money, not obeying the law.

  172. John,

    Are you suggesting that Chinese government doesn’t have significant influence in Hong Kong?

    Perhaps you missed the whole “one nation two systems” agreement that went with the handover.

    What that exactly means has been and remains a highly contested issue. Which is why from time to time Hong Kong citizens protest actions by the Hong Kong government which they view as not living up that promise.

  173. John, if you pay attention, you will see that I also visited reporters without borders and quoted at length before you did. Yahoo Hong Kong behaved the same way all other ISPs in Hong Kong behave and provided data from servers located in mainland China.

  174. “Please read Carrick’s post regarding the location of the datastores (servers). They were apparently on the mainland, not in Hong Kong.”

    Doesn’t matter, they still were a Hong Kong company. You people are assuming that it was a slam dunk legal case. It was not. Yahoo had a good basis to claim that they did not have to turn over the name. They didn’t even try. They just rolled over because they didn’t give a shit and didn’t want to antagonize the Chinese government. It was moral cowardice in the name of profits.

  175. If you don’t smack the dog when he piddles on the rug, he’s just going to keep piddling on the rug.

    Rinse, repeat. Sigh.

  176. Carick

    You are an idiot or a troll or both.

    Well, John, at least I spell your name correctly.

  177. They didn’t have to turn the name over. They were a Hong Kong company not a Chinese one. They had a legit legal argument to say no. They just turned it over to kiss ass and make money.

    So, what you are saying is that Bayer Drugs doesn’t have to abide by the FDA but they do so to “kiss ass and make money” and that in the case of a bad formulation or overdose death the only recourse is kicking them out of the country. Interesting.

  178. “John, if you pay attention, you will see that I also visited reporters without borders and quoted at length before you did. Yahoo Hong Kong behaved the same way all other ISPs in Hong Kong behave and provided data from servers located in mainland China.”

    Yes, they all do it, but the law doesn’t require them to do it. They only do it because they all want to kiss the Chinese’s ass and make more money. Yahoo could have legitimately claimed that they were not legally bound to turn it over. They could have fought it and made a stink about it. The law is very unclear. They were not just following the law, since the law isn’t clear. They were doing what they thought would make them the most money.

  179. joe | November 7, 2007, 2:37pm | #

    I’m going to post it again, just to rub Episiarch’s face in it.

    The silence about China’s human rights problems (and Russia’s too, for that matter) from our government has been disappointing. Bush even went so far as to say that Russia’s war in Chechnya and China’s “security” efforts against Muslims in Xinjian Province were part of the War on Terror.

    It’s good to see that the new Congress is putting it back on the agenda.

    This is the expression of blind partisanship that he simply couldn’t let pass.

    What exactly is the problem with that statement again, Episiarch? Please, fill us in. It’s obviously terribly biased and unfair, a vertable buffet of delusion based on party loyalty, but for the slower among us, would you care to explain how?

    I don’t think you will. Hack.

  180. I don’t think we’re ever going to see an answer.

    But that’s probably just my partisan bias talking.

  181. “So, what you are saying is that Bayer Drugs doesn’t have to abide by the FDA but they do so to “kiss ass and make money” and that in the case of a bad formulation or overdose death the only recourse is kicking them out of the country. Interesting.”

    What is so hard about this? The law was unclear. They were a Hong Kong Company. They had a legitimate legal argument not to turn the name over. Why not make the argument? Why not go to court and at least make the Chinese show why you have to? They didn’t do that. They just turned it over because they were more worried about money than morality.

  182. OK, a short thought experiment.

    Well putting that after my quote I’ll assume that was meant to reply to me. But all you did was list a set of circumstances that I would assume are mostly relevant to someone making a judgement about whether a particular action is moral. Yes there are many potential consequences of any action and you’d have to make some effort to think all of those before reaching a conclusion. Then when you’re called before Congress to explain, you’d lay that all out there and explain why you ultimately decided to comply. You wouldn’t go in there and start spewing “lawful order” bullshit.

    In other words, nothing in your post really contradicts what my point, which was that you don’t just blindly follow any law without considering the morality of your action. Is that what you disagree with – do you think you should simply follow all laws?

  183. In sworn testimony last year, the company said it had had no information about the nature of an investigation into Mr Shi before it gave Chinese authorities identifying information about the journalist’s e-mail. Mr Shi was subsequently arrested and is serving a 10-year prison term.

    It was later revealed that, at the time of the congressional hearing, Yahoo officials in Asia had in their possession a Chinese order that said the investigation involved “state secrets” – a term usually used in cases involving political dissidents.

    Michael Callahan, Yahoo’s general counsel, apologised last week for not coming forward with the information after he learned about it months later. On Tuesday he also said he was not aware that Yahoo had two “liaison officials” in China who worked with state authorities. One lawmaker, David Wu, said a Yahoo attorney in Asia had disclosed the liaisons in a statement to the congressional committee.

    Mr Lantos described Yahoo’s actions in the case as “spineless and irresponsible” and lambasted the company for trying to sweep the transgression under the rug and failing to discipline any officials for providing false information to Congress.

    “This was no misunderstanding,” he said. “It was inexcusable, negligent behaviour at best, and deliberately deceptive at worst.”

    Lawmakers also criticised Yahoo’s assertion that it did not know whether Yahoo China continued to co-operate with investigations into dissidents because it no longer has any management control or oversight of its activities following the sale of Yahoo China to Alibaba, the internet company.

    “You’ve shielded yourself from moral responsibility,” said Dana Rohrbacher, a Republican congressman.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1ea1a1b2-8c7c-11dc-b887-0000779fd2ac.html

    They knew exactly what the subpeana was for and then lied about it to Congress on top of that.

  184. They had a legitimate legal argument not to turn the name over. Why not make the argument? Why not go to court and at least make the Chinese show why you have to?

    They did?? That’s funny, I could have sworn that Shi Tao was a Chinese citizen and therefore subject to Chinese laws. Additionally, while Yahoo!CN may be a HK company, it is subject to Chinese laws by virtue of where it’s servers are located. Lastly, perhaps you missed what happened to Shi Tao’s lawyer? Hate to break it to you, Yahoo! would have been forced to turn it over regardless. S.o.S. is right, their only real option was to pull out of China, and would that really have benefited democracy there? I think not.

    Also, I am still waiting for your answer as to how this differs from the DHS requesting records from ISPs stateside.

  185. “Or to put my point more bluntly, did you know that the PLA marched through Hong Kong in 2006?”

    So what? They still had a valid legal reason to say no and were just weasels that they wouldn’t even do that. It is not like the PLA was going to parachute into silicon valley and grab the President of the company. The only sanction they faced was potentially losing their access to the Chinese market and making less money. I am sure that guy in prison feels better knowing that he is rotting there so that the founders of Yahoo can buy a new 767 like the founders of Google did.

  186. “Yahoo! would have been forced to turn it over regardless. S.o.S. is right, their only real option was to pull out of China, and would that really have benefited democracy there? I think not.”

    What a stinking pile of horseshit that is. So Yahoo operating as arm of the state police is serving Democracy in China. By operating in China under the rules set forth they are assisting in the oppression of the Chinese people and hurting Democracy. If they had said no, absolutely it would have cost Yahoo money in China. BUt that is just the point. This was about money and nothing else. They narked this guy out so that they could make a few extra billion. But they are doing it all in the support of Chinese Democracy. How can you even write that shit without vomiting?

  187. John,

    My point is that the relationship between Hong Kong and China is a complex and contested one. Whether that justifies Yahoo!’s actions is something I have not addressed.

  188. so to summarize:

    Mainland China is a totalitarian state with harsh laws governing the distribution of information.

    Shi Tao knowingly violated those laws in a clear act of civil disobediance (and in my opinion it was a very brave act and China needs more people like that).

    The Chinese government issued a valid court order (under their system) to get information from a Hong Kong company.

    The Hong Kong company operating under a vague set of laws behaved in the customary fashion, similar to all other ISPs operating in this environment.

    The Hong Kong company could have challenged the order (and should have from an American point of view), but choose not to.

    And some how, this make the American founder of the parent company a “moral pygamy”. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it that way.

  189. “Also, I am still waiting for your answer as to how this differs from the DHS requesting records from ISPs stateside.”

    Because DHS doesn’t send politicl disidents to jail for 10 years dumb ass. If you really think that the US is in anyway like China, why don’t you go over there and start saying the things about their government you routinely say about ours.

  190. John,

    So Yahoo operating as arm of the state police is serving Democracy in China.

    Perhaps over the long term it is. This becomes an issue of utilitarian-oriented ethics at that point.

  191. Carrick,

    They turned over the name of a guy that they knew was going to be imprisoned for years or perhaps killed because of what he had published. They did because they wanted to make more money in China. If you can’t see that as immoral, then I don’t know what to say to you.

  192. They knew exactly what the subpeana was for and then lied about it to Congress on top of that.

    Aaah, yes. “State Secrets”. Just like “terrorism”, it is an all encompassing umbrella. My question is, did they know details? Did Mr. Tao spread political dissent or give out detailed parade routes for assassins? Did Yahoo! know the answer to this? If not, then your statement is bullshit. Note that the FT didn’t say that it “always means”, just “usually means political dissent”.

    Just so we get this straight, I am not condoning the actions of Yahoo!HK.

    However, your assertion that they had legal recourse and would have gotten a fair shake in a Chinese court are laughable. It’s like saying that someone who insulted Pres. Khrushchev had a legal recourse to protest his death sentence. Maybe in another 10 or 15 years the Chinese political and legal system will be open enough for your argument to be valid but not today.

  193. John,

    Because DHS doesn’t send politicl disidents to jail for 10 years dumb ass.

    The U.S. government has swept up on what looks like rather weak rationales individuals who probably had no business being locked up. Is there a reall difference between the two?

  194. “Moreover, it is pretty god damned pathetic that a bunch of so called libertarians will argue that it was okay to send a man to prison for 10 years because the ‘law said so’.”

    OK, I can help you here.

    In instances where the state compels a company to do something that harms an individual, I blame the state 100%.

    Please note that in the threads dealing with telecom immunity, I argued that it was not reasonable to expect a corporation to stand up to a government that had done all it could to demonstrate that it was lawless and vindictive.

    In this case, I have also argued that the very entity criticizing Yahoo here [the US Congress] would have done exactly squat to back Yahoo up if Yahoo had decided to play the hero and had told the Chinese to fuck off.

    That is different from arguing “it was the law, tough shit”.

    I am arguing that if the US government wants “heroic” behavior from US corporations operating overseas, they should provide them with the legal tools to behave that way – and that until they do that, they should shut the fuck up.

    If China uses information gleaned from ISP’s to persecute dissidents, cut China off from the DNS server system. Make it impossible for any ISP to do business in China.

    Rescind the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act so that if Yahoo decides not to turn the name over, and bribes the shit out of everyone involved so they can get away with not turning the name over, Yahoo walks away scot-free.

    Make it clear that if the property of US corporations is seized in China, or if operating licenses are denied capriciously in connection with political oppression, that the property of Chinese companies, nationals, and state entities will be seized wherever we can find it anywhere in the world, and the operating licenses of Chinese companies and their affiliates will be yanked.

    Do things like that, and then I will expect Yahoo to stand up to the Chinese. But the US government has thousands of nuclear warheads, and IT doesn’t stand up to the Chinese. So why should some internet company be expected to?

  195. You’re so right John. I mean, I work for a Fortune 500 company that sells lots of stuff to China, has offices in China, employs citizens of China, so I’m probably facilitating atrocities on a daily basis. I’m such a bad person.

  196. Carrick,

    And some how, this make the American founder of the parent company a “moral pygamy”.

    They could have put up more of a fight, and they could have shown some remorse.

    Yeah, they were in a tight spot – but the witnesses weren’t acting like they were in a tight spot. They were acting like their hands were totally clean, and they’d do the same thing again in a heartbeat.

    They bent right over like obedient little tools, as if they were paying a utility bill.

  197. John,

    BTW, were the children who were released from GITMO in 2004 “dirt bags?”

  198. I had remarks consistent with Fluffy’s prepared. He has more elegantly expressed my views. Thanks!

  199. I am arguing that if the US government wants “heroic” behavior from US corporations operating overseas, they should provide them with the legal tools to behave that way – and that until they do that, they should shut the fuck up.

    Sure, I have no problem saying the US government doesn’t have much room to complain here. That is irrelevant, however, to the morality of Yahoo!’s actions.

    But the US government has thousands of nuclear warheads, and IT doesn’t stand up to the Chinese. So why should some internet company be expected to?

    Because it’s the right thing to do.

  200. They could’t have sent Shi Tao a note on the DL and given him 48 hours’ head start before complying with the subpoena?

  201. Because DHS doesn’t send politicl disidents to jail for 10 years dumb ass. If you really think that the US is in anyway like China, why don’t you go over there and start saying the things about their government you routinely say about ours.

    Oh sweet Jesus John! Way to not answer a fucking question. Let’s try again:
    Here is the (not so unbelievable)hypothetical:

    They absolutely would tell DHS to go screwthemselves even if doing so resulted in a ton of dead Americans because they no good and well that the US is a free country and DHS won’t do anything about it.

    Telling DHS to screw off? That buys you some real street cred there.

    John,
    I hope you remember your position when the DHS (under your despised lefty leader Clinton) starts looking into the records of people who accessed smith-wesson.com to determine who might be is a “terrorist” within the US borders. Of course by then, your ilk will have planted the seeds for the disarmament of the public. But hey, it’s for the good of America; right?

    And here is the set of questions…again:

    The point is that Yahoo when given the choice of outing an innocent person and sending them to jail for 10 years and getting kicked out, choose to out the person in the name of a few bucks. That makes them vile.

    I don’t like to rain on your shit parade here John but I’m going to. Yahoo! was served a warrant to release data on an individual. I am pretty damned sure the warrant didn’t say “for violation of gag-order 153.7a — Releasing information to Foreign Journalists, conviction punishable with 10 in prison.”

    If Yahoo! (or AOL) were served with a warrant for the email records on John Kluge in the US for investigation in a violation of a US law should they give it up? If not, why not? If so, then how is it different than Yahoo! complying with local laws where it operates? If they do and your happy ass is arrested for something that would be legal in, say Singapore, would that make them “vile”?

    I await your answer to all three questions.

    Note I didn’t say which law because warrants usually don’t say it, but lets use “suspected terrorism” as the reason for the warrant. That is about as broad an umbrella as “State Secrets”. Oh, and to make it easier on your eyes, I put the questions in bold.

    You’re welcome.

  202. Brian Courts,

    Well, that depends on how much significance one places on consequentialist ethics.

  203. Well, that depends on how much significance one places on consequentialist ethics.

    SoS, that’s very true, and I sort of alluded to that earlier when I mentioned that there are many factors one can weigh in deciding on the ultimately “more right” (or “less-wrong”) course of action. My last comment was meant more to show that I thought the US government’s stance irrelevant to your ultimate decision on morality.

  204. Syloson of Samos | November 7, 2007, 2:53pm | #
    Were the e-mail records the only reason that Shi Tao was arrested?

    It would appear that given the span of time between the submission of the warrant (April 22, 2004) and the arrest (November 24, 2004) the Chinese government needed more evidence than just these emails.

  205. They could have put up more of a fight, and they could have shown some remorse.

    Yeah, they were in a tight spot – but the witnesses weren’t acting like they were in a tight spot. They were acting like their hands were totally clean, and they’d do the same thing again in a heartbeat.

    I’ve never believed it is the responsibility of corporations to change the direction of governments (it usually has bad effects even here in the US).

    Even our European friends have data security laws that are oppresive compared to the US. Did you know that it is illegal in France to encrypt email messages all the way to the destination user? France has laws saying that all mail can be opened and read by the authorities before it is delivered to the recipient. In electronic terms, it means that France already has the legal right to go to your ISP and read all your email before you get it.

    Doing business in the international relm is morally ambiguous. Frequently, the only choice is to comply fully with the laws of the land you are in, or don’t go there.

    As I said earlier, a rational argument could be made for Yahoo to pull out entirely, but I don’t think that will actually make the world a better place for dissidents in China.

  206. If Yahoo! (or AOL) were served with a warrant for the email records on John Kluge in the US for investigation in a violation of a US law should they give it up? If not, why not? If so, then how is it different than Yahoo! complying with local laws where it operates? If they do and your happy ass is arrested for something that would be legal in, say Singapore, would that make them “vile”?

    Sorry to jump into your debate with John, but here’s how I would answer that, as I posted earlier.

    Well, unless we’re back to the robotic following of laws, the obvious answer is “it depends.” They would have to use their judgment to assess the situation and determine if, with the information they have (including their knowledge of the prevailing legal climate, past events, etc.) whether complying was moral or not. If not, then no, they should refuse.

    So I think they should handle it same way I think they should handle it in China, or any other country.

  207. carrick,

    French anti-terrorism laws, practices, etc. would probably freak out a lot of civil libertarians in the U.S.

  208. If Yahoo! (or AOL) were served with a warrant for the email records on John Kluge in the US for investigation in a violation of a US law should they give it up? If not, why not?

    Well, unless we’re back to the robotic following of laws, the obvious answer is “it depends.” They would have to use their judgment to assess the situation and determine if, with the information they have (including their knowledge of the prevailing legal climate, past events, etc.) whether complying was moral or not. If not, then no, they should refuse.

    Brian,
    Great timing!

    Anyway, since John is probably not going to be able to bridge the cognitive dissonance between the actions in China and the actions of the DHS here, particularly regarding warrantless wiretapping, I will address this now.

    I agree that Yahoo!s moral compass should have directed them to not turn over the records any more than AT&T did to the DHS. The fact is they did and that was wrong.

    Now, SoS did have a valid point earlier about the ultimate service to democracy by having Yahoo! still in China and indeed in the long run I think that it is a good thing and may allow Mr. Tao to see a more free world than if he didn’t have the opportunity to use Yahoo! in the first place.

    I am of two minds about the ultimate repercussions from Yahoo! China’s actions but a man sits in jail for doing nothing more than reporting the facts, and that does not sit well at all with me.

  209. What part of “the people get things wrong. A lot” didn’t you understand?

    C’mon, you can puzzle this out. I know you can.

    Let’s puzzle it out together. “The people gets things wrong. A lot.” The only conclusion that can be drawn about democracy, then, is “Don’t Trust Democracy.” No?

  210. No.

    Every system gets questions wrong. A lot. Ever read about the czars?

    Democracy has the virtue of giving us the opportunity for a do-over. If democracy puts Ivan the Terrible into office, it boots him back out pretty soon, before the body count can get too high.

    I don’t think we can eliminate the mistakes, just deal with them better once they’re made.

  211. joe,

    Democracy has the virtue of giving us the opportunity for a do-over.

    Or perhaps not. Depends on if the institutions survive the bad ruler’s rule. That’s how a number of democracies have crumbled.

  212. Syloson, I think joe just defines away that possibility. His definition of “Democracy” in the phrase “Trust Democracy” has to be understood to mean “Democracy, when it can be trusted.”

  213. Crap. Good thing I read this website. Come December 3rd, Im changing my yahoo account with all my Anti-Chavez email.
    Thanks for the heads up!

  214. Those Yahoo guys are immoral bastards.

  215. The Reporters Without Borders article didn’t cover one aspect of the story that I’m still curious about: What expectations did Yahoo! set that Shi Tao’s email would be kept private? Do they have the same privacy policy for their Chinese users that they have elsewhere? What does their privacy policy for China say about government investigations? Heck, what does their privacy policy for the United States say about government investigations?

  216. Mike,
    Yahoo! US Privacy Policy
    I believe what you seek is here:

    # We respond to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process, or to establish or exercise our legal rights or defend against legal claims.
    # We believe it is necessary to share information in order to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person, violations of Yahoo!’s terms of use, or as otherwise required by law.

  217. John, Georgian Red? Interesting. I have heard that the Georgia is where wine was first made. I haven’t had any but now, I will look around and see what I can see.

  218. Six, oddly enough champagne gives me a killer headache. And since I am a Deacon of the Church of Red, I don’t often drink champagne (which, is usually made from pinot noir grapes–which, are red, as you probably know, but some folks are surprised by).

  219. John, Georgian Red? Interesting. I have heard that the Georgia is where wine was first made.

    Georgia is near the heart of where viniferous grapes originated thousands of years ago, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they make wine there.

    I don’t have any idea which variety of grapes they use, but I can attest that it’s good wine.

  220. Carrick, now your talking. You and John have sparked a little curiosity. I really have to get back to my mission de jure but…….later, I’m going to look at Georgian wine. Thanks.

  221. There is no difference between what yahoo did and what myriad american entities are doing in response to Patriot Act subpoenas from the govt.

    The House Committee that is accusing yahoo of moral malfeasance should then be willing to stand by any entity that refusing to give up information to the feds in a drug trafficking prosecution case.

    nmg

  222. Tbilisi, 3 April 2006 (Civil Georgia – website) – Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli and State Minister for Economic Reforms Kakha Bendukidze met with leading Georgian winemakers on April 2 to discuss a situation surrounding Russia’s ban on import of Georgian wine under the pretext that it wasn’t fit for consumption.

    “I want to reiterate that Russia decision was illegal, unfair and unfriendly? [Georgian wines’] quality certificate is recognized by the Europe and the United States,” PM Nogaideli told reporters.

    “I was told now that peasants are confused in Kakheti [region most famous for Georgian wines], as they do not know what to do. I will tell them keep doing what you and your ancestors have been doing for many centuries. Keep growing grapes of high quality, because it will definitely be sold,” he added.

    State Minister for Economic Reforms Kakha Bendukidze called on the wine producer companies to launch activities over diversification of their foreign trade, which was chiefly oriented on the Russian markets.

    But winemakers say that the process will need years and they will suffer a serious financial blow in case Russia continues its ban on import of the Georgian wines.

    Find some fast, if you can.

  223. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_wine

    Interesting write-up in Wikipedia on Georgian wine.

  224. my pleasure

  225. S.o.S.,

    Quite true. Democracy and constitutionalism need to go hand in hand. They are both important tools for keeping the government from going off the rails.

    Syloson, I think joe just defines away that possibility. Mike, I think not.

  226. You have to love ignorantly foolish comments like “First if you compare this guy who was sent to prison in China for his political views to the dirt bags sitting in GUITMO [sic], you are a whackjob.”

    Most of the people in Gitmo are innocent. All of them may be innocent. Consider the case of the five Chinese muslims mistakenly captured and now held at Guantanamo Bay:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0213/p03s03-usju.html

    The people at Gitmo were sold to the U.S. by Afghan warlords who lied to get a $1500 bounty for each prisoner. Overwhelming evidence shows that most of the people held in Gitmo are not terrorists, not Al Qaeda, not terrorist symapthizers, but cab drivers and farmers and innocent bystanders turned in by mistake or mistaken for someone else because they have the wrong last name, or merely grabbed up in a raid and consigned to Gitmo by a series of bureaucratic snafus.
    http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/11/15/innocent-people-still-being-held-in-guantanamo-bay

    The Canadian man kidnapped and flown overseas and tortured and then released serves as a case in point. This guy had the same last name as a known terrorist. That’s all he did. That’s his crime. This is typical of the gross incompetence and shocking stupidity of the U.S. intelligence community and the U.S. armed forces, so why should we believe that anyone in Gitmo is there for any other reason?
    blog.washingtonpost.com/worldopinionroundup/2006/10/canadian_man_tortured_by_lack_1.html

    It seems likely that every single prisoner in Gitmo is a case of mistaken identity, a case of an innocent person swept up in some army patrol and then accused of a crime so some lieutenant could cover his ass, or an innocent bystander grabbed up and waterboarded because he happened to be standing near a car bomb when it went off.

    It’s now clear why the people running Gitmo are so ferociously opposed to giving out any information about the detainees. If they did, it would become clear to everyone that all the prisoners at Gitmo are wrongly detained innocent bystanders and cases of mistaken identity.

    Yes, there is a big difference between the Chinese grabbing and imprisoning that dissident and the people who languish at Gitmo. The Chinese dissident did something. There is no evidence that any prisoner in Gitmo ever did anything, and vast mountain of evidence that most of the prisoners in Gitmo are victims of mistaken identity (as Maher Arer was, though he was simply tortured rather than being imprisoned in Gitmo) or are innocent bystanders imprisoned for no reason at all other than to cover the ass of the guys in the intelligence community who screwed up and now cannot bear to admit their mistake.

  227. carrick,

    I don’t expect Yahoo to try to change the Chinese government.

    Just to get on board with them so enthusiastically.

    I can see how their situation puts them in a quandry.

    What chafes me is that they don’t appear to see that.

  228. McLaren,

    Me thinks you are one of the Whackjobs.

  229. The thing that I don’t get when it comes to a lawful request is the fact that the information request crossed legal jurisdictions. The request was made of Yahoo! China but the information was held by Yahoo Hong Kong. Yes Hong Kong is under the sovereignty of the PRC but it is a separate legal jurisdiction. I am not entirely sure just how obligated Yahoo! China was to hand over data not held in the jurisdiction of the Chinese authorities.

  230. Wow, Reading through the thread is dazzling. Even with the benefit of perfect clarity in hindsight many of you still think Yahoo did the right thing. Say your prayers before you go to bed tonight; if something happens while you sleep, you are going to need God’s mercy.

  231. Wow, I don’t think anybody said that Yahoo! did the right thing.

  232. People think that the web is some sort of global soap box where they can do and say what they like, free of their local big brother… I am here to tell you, IT IS NOT.

    All ISPs and search engines, are in it for the money, and Yahoo is no better or worse than any other business out there.

    And who said businesses need to be moral. Is it moral to use starving third world kids to make rubber shoes for $1 and then sell them on to well fed American kids for $100? No it is not. Is it good business? Yes it is. Is it legal? Sure, any good lawyer will tell you that.

    Yahoo did not send anyone to prison, They did not promise immunity to people who break local laws either, however unjust those laws may seem to the rest of us. There is a long list of things you can’t do on personal or business web sites and that list gets longer in totalitarian places like China. The guy who went to prison must have known the kind of country he lived in, and the fact that so called free speech will get you a long stretch in the big house.

    (a) To sum up; Freedom is fiction, in China, America or anywhere else. So cover your arse by reading the small print.

    (b) There is no such animal as a secure web site, unless it is a pure money making venture that does not upset the powers that be. SSL will secure money transactions.

    (c) Morality and business do not mix. In the 19th Century respectable business owners sent half starved kids up chimneys and down mines; why? because they could fit into small spaces, and if they got stuck or were crushed or just suffocated, well, respectable business owners would just get another batch of starving kids to take their place. It was all quite legal, any lawyer of the day would tell you that. Yes! I hear you say, But things have changed. I must disagree, We don’t use kids like that anymore. But they do in other countries, and immoral business men make billions exploiting them.

    Sorry! did I say ‘IMMORAL’ My argument is; ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE, WAR AND BUSINESS.

    God bless America and Yahoo. Keep up the fine business tradition and resist the urge to be moral, leave that pussy stuff to the week the poor and the downright stupid… Oh, and and people who pretend to be moral to get re-elected.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.