Transparency

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Deserve Our Thanks for Making Governments More Transparent

The world is a better place now that it's harder than ever for governments to keep secrets.

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Pete Maclaine/i-Images / Polaris/Newscom

A lot of people are dunking on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now that he's been arrested by British law enforcement and will likely face extradition hearings to the United States on charges that he conspired with Chelsea Manning to "commit computer intrusion" on a U.S. government machine. Assuming the British authorities do go forward with extradition, it will almost certainly be years before the matter is settled (and there's a strong argument that Assange might walk in British courts). In the meantime, Assange has effectively traded exile in Ecuador's embassy in London for a jail cell in the same city. As Robby Soave notes, prosecuting Assange for publishing leaked documents—something that media outlets do on a regular basis—would be very bad for press freedom.

Regardless of how you feel about Assange as a person, there's no question that WikiLeaks, founded in 2006, has been central to starting a salutary era of forced transparency, a time when state and corporate actors have much more trouble keeping secrets. Forced transparency is bigger than WikiLeaks, of course. It's one of the defining dynamics of our time, riding the same technological wave that gave us Napster and other innovations that disperse power and information in all sorts of unauthorized ways. But let's give credit and praise where it's due. The world is better for the fact that it's harder than ever for governments to keep their own secrets.

Early exposés by the organization included documents from the Church of Scientology and East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit. In 2010, the organization came into its own by publishing a trove of documents given to it by Chelsea Manning, then an Army intelligence analyst. Among the things that came to light:

  • graphic video of a U.S. Apache helicopter killing Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists;
  • 90,000-plus pages of military memos, now known as the Afghan War Diaries, that showed that the Taliban and the Pakistani government were in regular contact and that civilian casualties were far greater than the U.S. officially acknowledged;
  • 400,000 pages of documents about the war in Iraq, including revelation of 15,000 unreported civilian deaths and brutal reprisals by Iraqi forces;
  • diplomatic cables that showed a wide gulf between the U.S.'s public positions and private analysis.

In 2016, of course, WikiLeaks also released hacked emails from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, which unmasked various bad-faith dealings within the Democratic Party establishment.

There are legitimate questions about WikiLeaks' relationship with the Russian government, but it's the worst sort of whataboutism to argue that WikiLeaks' revelatons about the United States government should not be taken seriously until it releases equally damaging material about, say, the Putin regime. The information it has shared about the United States is widely understood to be accurate; calls for some sort of geopolitical balance doesn't make the group's revelations about our leaders any less true.

In 2017, FBI Director James Comey said that WikiLeaks trafficked in "public intelligence porn." Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and now secretary of state, went so far as to condemn Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the state. "We can no longer allow [Julian] Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us," Pompeo declared at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for." Such talk was reminiscent of The Wall Street Journal calling Assange an "enemy of the U.S." who should face the death penalty.

Such backward thinking is absurd. We won't be "crushed" if our actions are defensible. Assume the worst about Assange, who was first taken into custody in relation to sexual assault charges in Sweden that have since been dropped. We don't need to praise the man to recognize that governments' radical loss of control of secret knowledge is ultimately a very good thing—and one that isn't going away anytime soon.

From 2010, here's a Reason video in which four experts grapple with the question, "Is WikiLeaks a Force for Good?"

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145 responses to “Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Deserve Our Thanks for Making Governments More Transparent

  1. There was something I read that Wikileaks defended Putin’s regime by suggesting the UK accusation that Russia was responsible for an assassination attempt on UK soil. At the very least, Russia may be the one European government Wikileaks does not want to get on the bad side of. Maybe out of sympathy, maybe out of fear.

    1. What did they suggest about the UK accusation? Your forgot some words there, me thinks.

      1. They suggested that Putin was not behind them

        1. All evidence points to a frame up by British Intel, perhaps the most evil humans in existence

          1. All evidence? That is quite an unqualified declaration from an uninformed, disaffected, bigoted, gullible rube.

            1. Ive ffollowed this assassination attempt and the various theories and evidence to support them. One thing that s pretty suspicious is that the intended target had been living in the open in a smaller city.. happens to be the same city where a former MI5 or maybe 6 Brit operative also lived. No contact between them. If Putin’s guys wanted him dead, there had been ten years of opprtunity, as he lived openly and wiith no paricular precautions. Can’t remember all the details but the most likely perp was a Brit who’d been outed or exposed as a double agent years back…. there IS no evidence to support the theory that Putin and Boys were behind this. I’ve also seen some analisis of the exact poison gas used… it WAS a variant on a product developed in Russia long ago, but the specific nature of it is NOT what Russia had.. seems there are a number of variants, each iwth its own signature, made elsewhere…. including in a city very near where the poisoning attempt was made.
              Further this happened at a time when deepstate operatives were doing their best to prove
              collusioin” between Trump and Putin….. and it is likely that the attack was a frame-up to try and put a wedge between Trump and Putin.. but Trump did not fall for it.

          2. Speaking of which, Assange might just be safer in the US than in British territory

          3. All evidence, huh? I’d welcome any evidence on your tin-foil-hat theory.

            1. I know, right? Crazy conspiracists. The “rational” people who are totally not insane (though clearly insane) just blame everything on the Russians

              1. The “rational” people who are totally not insane (though clearly insane) just blame everything on the Russians

                I blame most of it on bigotry, selfishness, gullibility, envy, desperation, superstition, and ignorance.

                1. And I blame your stupidity on you being a joke of a man

                2. “”I blame most of it on bigotry, selfishness, gullibility, envy, desperation, superstition, and ignorance””

                  Of course, you are a one trick pony.

                  Carry on clinger.

            2. Well NPC grb, Russia had the Skripal in custody for years and ample opportunity to eliminate him if he were a threat. He posed no threat at all, to Russia, for years but made a convenient propaganda piece for The Crown if something were to happen to him. Something like being poisoned with a chemical that could be sold as “Russian” but was also possessed by the British government in a building mere blocks from the site. The timing was very convenient for the Brits, and American, Intel who just so happened to be in the middle of a propagandistic campaign against their favorite boogeyman.

              It’s revelatory that those who repeat narratives given to them by American, but really British, Intel accuse others of wearing tinfoil hats.

              And it’s ironic in a story about Assange and Wikileaks.

              But self-awareness, or awareness in general, is not a trait NPCs ever display.

              1. These are the same people who think the US was in Syria to fight ISIS while fighting Assad. They only understand narrative. They’ve never had an independent thought in their entire lives. Anytime they are posed with a conflicted question they default to a talking point and think that makes them clever.

                1. These are the same people who think the US was in Syria to fight ISIS while fighting Assad.

                  Were these same people in Syria fighting Assad, was the US in Syria fighting ISIS AND Assad, or was the US in Syria saying that the US is fighting ISIS but was really fighting Assad?

                  1. the last one.

                    That poison gas attack so conveineinty blamed on Assad was proven to be from some stocks ISIS had control over…. but this was not broadcast as well as the original meme that it was Assad’s guys. Seems an ISIS rebel who was not familiar with the weapon deployed it on accident. Same result, though.

                    I never did learn WHY the cry went up “Assad Must GO!!!” maybe in part because in the recent past a number of other legitimate long standing governments had been given the same sentence….Egypt, Libya, Ukraine, all leading to the coloured spring debacles we seemed to be behind. It is also happening now in Venezuela, and has happened on a frequent basis over the pst century alll over the world.

              2. I think it is possible that it was a false flag operation that British Intelegence to blame on the Russians. That wouldn’t shock me if it were true. It is equally possible, however, that Putin is just an asshole who had the guy killed for spite and to send a message to other Russians living abroad that they will never be beyond his reach.

                I don’t think you can dismiss the latter possibility any more than others can dismiss your theory. The fact is we just don’t know.

                1. Possible, but motive is thin. Why wait 8 years to send a message?
                  The British have been orchestrating this shit for over a century. I’m wondering how we can have faith in anything they say.
                  Isn’t it suspicious that Western Intel and media repeat the same narrative, often with the same words? This exact type of thing is their MO.
                  I’d give it 3:2 odds British:Russian responsibility.

                  Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Putin/Russia “does” something “aggressive” in the next few months. “They” have an odd habit of “misbehaving” at the most convenient times for our deep state.

                  1. Why wait 8 years to send a message?

                    Lots of possible reasons. Maybe they didn’t think a message needed to be sent. Maybe the guy was doing something that really pissed them off before they decided to do it. Maybe it took them that long to decide to do it and set the whole thing up. The fact that they waited 8 years is in no way conclusive proof agains them doing it.

                    Isn’t it suspicious that Western Intel and media repeat the same narrative, often with the same words?

                    Of course it is and absolutely a lot of the media are nothing but disinformation mouthpieces for intelligence agencies. That fact, however, doesn’t mean they were not telling the truth here.

                    1. No, but I’m looking at what is most likely, hence giving 3:2 odds.
                      Either way you want to assign responsibility, you have to make a case built upon rational deductions.
                      Ultimately it’s unknown, but your case doesn’t sway me much from what I think is most likely

                2. I think it is possible that it was a false flag operation that British Intelegence to blame on the Russians.

                  Birther-class goobers are among my favorite half-educated, bigoted, faux libertarian, disaffected right-wingers.

                  1. I blame the Russians!

                  2. Yes Rev, anyone who thinks what governments tell them could possibly be untrue is just a goober. Thanks for clearing that up.

                    Now run along and maybe work on getting the GED for a while.

                  3. Here you go Rev. This is a thread on this very post where people have an intelligent conversation about something instead of being a slobbering moron who emotes buzz words and talking points.

                    https://reason.com/blog/2019/04…..nt_7754145

                    I don’t expect you to understand any of it. But at read it and at least have something to aspire to.

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          click here ======?? http://xurl.es/Goodluck

    2. Or, or, and consider this maybe. It may sound insane, but hear me out. Your government lies to you. The Russia connection is more fiction than reality. It’s a convenient scapegoat and a popular one (can’t say anything nefarious about China or their gulags, because American businesses can make money there).

      Of course Putin is going to needle the West as much as the West enjoys needling him. The connection between Wikileaks and Russia is unsubstantiated nonsense that conveniently fits existing foreign policy priorities.

  2. Is NYT defending Assange, a la “Pentagon Papers”??

    1. This is different because Assange isn’t a “reporter” and he did stuff that damaged the Democrats.

      1. Daniel Ellsberg wasn’t a reporter either, and he did stuff that damaged the Democrats.

        All this stuff is just example #4,367,582 of how politics destroys intellectual consistency.

        (That second line wasn’t directed at you).

        1. Ellsberg didn’t damage the Democrats. Even though the Pentegon Papers made Johnson look bad and Nixon look good, the media was able to lie and create the myth that he was going after Nixon. Nixon should have wanted those papers released.

          And Ellsberg is not analogous to Assange. Ellsberg is the one who took the information and is analogous to Bradly. Assange is analagous to the NYT reporter who wrote the story.

          1. The right-wing mind at work is a wondrous spectacle !!!

            (1) So the media printed stuff that “made Johnson look bad and Nixon look good” huh?

            (2) But it seems their nefarious plan was to make Johnson look good and Nixon look bad because …. (insert evil conspiracy here)

            (3) So they brainwashed their readers by ( insert evil powers here ) into misreading the very words they printed.

            You wonder why they printed the Pentagon Papers at all, given John’s wack-job theory. One reason I could never be part of today’s Right (right after common sense & basic decency) is I couldn’t handle the conspiratorial snowflake victimization tin-foil-hat loopiness necessary for membership in the tribe. I would just find it exhausting…..

            1. I blame the Russians!

              1. How insane is it for Russia Truthers to call others conspiracy theorists after three years of their insane bullshit?

                1. They just emote Just Say’n.. What is funny as shit is that all of this is well established. The Pentegon papers were about the conduct of the war in Vietnam under Johnson not Nixon. They had nothing to do with Nixon. But, the general perception was that they were damaging to Nixon and that is why Nixon fought so hard to stop their release. That they were not really damaging to Nixon is pretty well known history.

                  It is not just that these people are stupid. It is how fucking ignorant they are. They literally know nothing about any topic. Its like they want to be ignorant.

            2. Do you even know what the Pentegon Papers were? You clearly have no idea what we are talking about.

              Why don’t you go troll on the daily links page or something and let the adults talk for a while. Or if you can’t do that, google the Pentegon Papers and know something before you speak.

              Beyond that you seem to be unable to grasp the simple idea that the media could print something and describe its contents in a dishonest way. Since you are so fucking stupid you can’t even understand that, don’t bother to google and just shut the fuck up and spare the world your stupidity.

            3. ne reason I could never be part of today’s Right (right after common sense & basic decency) is I couldn’t handle the conspiratorial snowflake victimization tin-foil-hat loopiness necessary for membership in the tribe. I would just find it exhausting…..

              No it is because you are an angry moron with a low IQ and an tenius grasp of reality.

          2. Bradley and Assange are both analogous to all other hackers who break into classified computers.
            Neither is charges with publishing the data, they are charged with hacking into secure computers, often called spying.

          3. Nixon should have wanted those papers released.

            In the cold crass calculus of political gain and loss, sure. But, and maybe this is heresy, maybe Nixon thought it would be bad for the country and the war effort.

            1. Maybe so. What a concept.

        2. the last principled (but misguided) democrat was ushered out when kucinich was forced out by the neoliberal warmongers controlling the democratic party. the democrat media can no longer even muster up the strength to pretend they are engaged in anything but partisan hackery in service of power for fame and fortune.

          1. Nah, you got Tulsi. The only Democratic presidential nominee criticizing the Trump administration for arresting Assange

    2. Propagandists don’t defend news reporters that threaten the regime

    3. Remember, the NYT editorial position that they have stated many times is that freedom of the press is only a right of the professional journalism fraternity, not a general right of individual people.

  3. Assange is a symptom of being “harder than ever for governments to keep secrets”, not vice versa.

  4. I don’t have much or any use for Assange. The fact remains, however, that Assange is not a US citizen, has never set foot in a US jurisdiction, and never stole a single piece of information. All Assange ever did was publish information other people stole. I don’t see how you can apply the espionage act to someone who isn’t a citizen, wasn’t working for a foreign government, and didn’t personally steal any information. This is in my opinion no different than the Pentegon Papers’ case.

    The person who should have gone to jail for publishing the things listed above was Bradly Manning. And he should still be there if not for Obama being an all purpose ass. I don’t see any compelling case for why Assange should go to jail for Manning’s or Snowden’s espionage.

    1. Because fuck you that’s why. They went and kidnapped Noriega straight out of his own country and it was fine. They have done the same to narcos in countries with no extradition treaties (Honduras specifically). Fuck you that’s why.

      1. Noreaga was guilty of actual crimes. He was a drug smuggler. This is much worse.

    2. “and never stole a single piece of information”

      Not true. The charges are for hacking into a secure computer. No one “gave” him that data, he went out and got it himself, with a little help from the (now convicted) traitor Bradley Manning.

      1. If they prove that Assange was hacking and stealing data, then he is guilty of the crime of hacking and unauthorized entry. He would not be guilty of espionage unless they can prove he was working for a foreign government. And I don’t see any proof of that.

        1. Looks like the charge is conspiracy to commit unauthorized access due to him allegedly helping Manning hack a password. Chat logs between him and Manning are part of the evidence.

    3. Assuming that the charging documents are not complete lies, he actively assisted in hacking an internal US Military network. That has exactly zero to do with publishing information. It also means that the people whining about press freedom either need to show that this isn’t the case or shut the fuck up about it.

      1. Fair point. If he did do that, then he is guilty of a crime, though probably not espionage and certainly not treason.

  5. Lets not forget who commuted Manning’s sentence and who attacked the commutation.

    1. Were you also butt hurt when Wikileaks released Sarah Palin’s e-mails during the 2008 election or is that different because you’re an idiot?

      1. I don’t have it out for Assange. I think he was a tool for fascist asshole like Trump and Putin.

    2. Manning comitted a federal crime and deserved to go to prison. He took the oath and broke it. Moreover, Reason is more idiotic than usual to say governments should never have secrets. To give one example, during the Cold War, the US secretly gave the USSR technoogy to failsafe their missiles and greatly reduce the chances of an accidental launch. That was a very good thing but something that could not have happened had it not been done in secret because the Soviets would have never been willing to suffer the humiliation associated with having to go to the US for help.

      That is just one example. Often time public adversaries do work together in private.

  6. “prosecuting Assange for publishing leaked documents?something that media outlets do on a regular basis?would be very bad for press freedom.”

    And yet your friends in the corporate press are the most jubilant about his arrest. This should tell you something, but the lesson will be lost on you.

    1. They know the difference between a leak-leak and a spill-leak.

      1. What about a spill-spill?

  7. Anyone who exposes any government secrets is a hero.

    1. absolutely

  8. The idea that Assange is some kind of Russian operative always seemed absurd to me. If Russia wanted to set up a platform for dissidents from other nations to leak information, they just could have done that. They could have set it up in Russia and what was the world going to do about it? Nothing. Even if they were not going to do that, no way would an intelligence service as good as the KGB picked a lose cannon like Assange to do it. Assange did what he did because he wanted to. If he favored releasing things about the US rather than China or Russia, that is because he enjoyed being alive not because he was working for them.

  9. sorry Nick, still not buying. I agree that exposing wrongdoing or use of secrecy to cover up incompetence is fully legit whistleblowing and fair game to publish. Assange (and Manning) went far beyond either of those, and exposed material that didn’t fall into those categories. The State Dept. memos largely fell into the ‘shouldn’t have been exposed’ group – do you play poker with your cards laying face up on the table?? there’s a reason that diplomats don’t either. Assange certainly exposed wrongdoing, but he also arbitrarily exposed material that hurt our country for no reason.

    1. “Assange certainly exposed wrongdoing, but he also arbitrarily exposed material that hurt our country for no reason.”

      Who did Assange hurt? I don’t think I’ve seen reports of even one person suffering even though thousands upon thousands of pages were published.

      1. “”Who did Assange hurt?”‘

        I agree.

        But some people would say Hillary Clinton.

        1. And those people would be idiots. Their blind partisanship has corrupted their brain. When Wikileaks leaked Sarah Palin’s e-mails during the 2008 election they were applauded by the corporate press, but when they leaked Podesta’s e-mails they went all tin foil hat insanity. Those people need to go fuck off

          1. Sarah Palin’s emails were hacked by some dumb ass kid. The guy ended up going to jail for it. I didn’t think wikileaks were involved.

            That said, when her emails were released, the NYT put out an appeal to its readers to crowd source their examination. When the Podesta and DNC emails were released, the NYT demanded blood and claimed any mention of their contents was practically a federal crime. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious and more damning.

            1. Wikileaks released the e-mails. I knew they didn’t hack them. I should have phrased that better.

              By the same token they didn’t hack Podesta either, which is what makes all of this moral preening so ridiculous. Whoever hacked Podesta’s e-mails tells us nothing about Wikileaks.

              1. Like I say above, wikileaks didn’t to my knowledge ever hack anyone or steal any information or even collaborate with others in stealing it. They only published information that others on their own chose to steal. I don’t see how that is espianage.

                1. “”I don’t see how that is espianage.””

                  Also, the materials stolen were not government materials. The DNC is a political party, not a government entity.

                  Not that all espionage is government based.

                  1. For sure Vic. But the Snowden and Manning stuff were government materials.

      2. “all the innocent people”

    2. “but he also arbitrarily exposed material that hurt our country for no reason.”

      Fuck them what do I care? Didn’t hurt me.

      Also, they have no jurisdiction over Assange

  10. Perhaps we’ll find out more about the Podesta email leaks. Seth Rich’s murder also. I suspect the leaks came from within one of the many US secret services. The pizzagate stuff seems like a classic intelligence smear operation.

  11. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. (Of course, we don’t know yet whether JA actually did a crime.)

  12. Say a drunken idiot comes up to you at a baseball game and starts being lewd towards you 19 year old daughter. You sock him in the mouth.

    Yeah, you’re guilty of battery, but . . . that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have socked him either.

    Evel Knievel had a publicist that used to work for him. The publicist wrote a book about him accusing him of drug addition, physically abusing people in his family, and all sorts of other things that turned out to be so false, the publisher eventually refused to publish the book. When Knievel read an advance copy, he was furious.

    He didn’t get a lawyer and sue the guy for libel. He didn’t get a red pen and mark his copy for revisions. Instead, he got a baseball bat, went over the guy’s office, and beat the shit out of him with it.

    At his arraignment, Knievel plead guilty. A reporter asked him why he plead guilty, and Knievel replied something to the effect of, “Because I did it”.

    It’s possible that what Assange did was both illegal and that it should be illegal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he shouldn’t have done it.

    1. Thiis is true. Plato wrote an entire dialog about this concept. It is called the Apology. In it, Creto comes to save Socrates from his death sentence by busting him out of jail and Socrates explains why he has to accept his punishment even though the law was unjust.

    2. + 10 Henry David Thoreaus

    3. Does the constitution explicitly and unambiguously grant Congress the power to create and maintain “state secrets?”

      Does the constitution explicitly and unequivocally grant the President the power to create and maintain “state secrets?”

      Does the constitution expressly and unambiguously grant Congress the power to criminalize the dissemination of such state secrets?

      Does the constitution authorize the federal judiciary to recognize “state secrets?”

      Does the constitution grant the federal judiciary to entertain arguments in support of “state secrets?”

      The text tells us the answers to the above: HELL NO.

      1. It is not as if there were no men who warned that the proponents of ratification desired a strong, central government under which all sorts of mischief would be practiced, including the advancement of pretexts for creating “state secrets” and that the same would be necessary lest doomsday ensue.

        The folk who opposed ratification were smart and prescient. They knew human nature better then we do.

      2. Treason is one of three crimes, along with counterfeiting and piracy, that is enumerated in the Constitution. Specificlly the Constitution says “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

        The key phrays is “adhering to their enemies”. Giving away state secrets was under English common law considered “adhering to the nations’ enemies”. So, I think yes, by implication the Constitution authorized state secrets. Had it not, the framers would not have included the phrase “adhering to their enemies” in the definition of the crime.

        1. But Assange is not a US citizen even if they want to try to stretch publishing embarrassing emails as “treason”

          1. Like I explain above, I don’t see how he is guilty of anything. He is not the one who stole the information. He just ran a webservice that published it for them.

            Since he is not a citizen and has never set foot in the US, he can’t be guilty of treason. Since he didn’t take the information and he wasn’t working for a foreign power, he can’t be guilty of espionage consistent with the Pentegon Papers case. I think the government is going to play hell getting a conviction against him to stick.

            1. I’m not so sure though. The jury selection system is a farce and lots of people just hate on Assange because he ‘hurt America’. It’s going to be a show trial sadly.

            2. “”He is not the one who stole the information. “”

              Since the information belonged to a political party and not the US government I’m not sure how it would be treason even for the person who stole it.

              Assuming we are talking about the DNC materials.

              1. You’re correct regarding the DNC emails, but I think he’s been arrested for the Manning batch.
                I agree with John’s opinion on the lack of illegality of his actions in any case.

                1. It appears he has.

                  The US is saying that he encouraged Manning to steal documents. We’ll see how that plays out. But we may not cause this might go to FISA.

        2. Two things:

          (1) Implication is not express. The proponents sold the constitution by assuring the anti-federalists that the general government would have only those powers specifically granted and none were to be implied;

          (2) Could not support for the extension of power by implication, itself, be considered treasonous? and

          (3) “their” refers to the states, not as one, but as individual, sovereign entities, and thus, any enlargement of federal power necessarily was harmful to a given state, and, therefore, treasonous.

          Put another way, the enlargement of federal power. by means of those holding it arguing that such enlargement was “implied,” could be considered treasonous.

          1. Words have meanings. And Treason and specifically “adhering to their enemies” meant somethign in the common law circa 1789. And it meant in part giving state secrets to the enemies. The framers knew what the words they were using meant and chose them carefully. I don’t see how you can conclude they meant anything other than the state can have secrets and giving them to the enemy is treason.

            Think of it another way. The Constitution recognizes the existence of a federal army and navy. Do you really think the framers didn’t think there could be military secrets?

            1. Of course, words have meanings, but don’t you think the failure to affirmatively include words carries interpretative weight?

              Should not the constitution be construed from the anti-federalist / states are sovereign perspective? You know that school of though holds that the feds have only those powers specifically, unambiguously granted and that it is not enough that the power sought could be or might be inferred from the text.

              1. I think the Constitution should be construed when it can be by applying the meanings of the words and terms used as they were then understood. When the framers use what amounts to a term of art like “ahering to their enemies”,. you have to assume they meant it to have the meaning that it did when they wrote the document.

                They were writing that clause because the British Parliment had expanded the definition of “treason” beyong all recognition and wanted to ensure the new federal government didn’t do the same. If they didn’t want the state to have secrets and for giving them to an enemy to be a crime, they would not have put the clause “adhering to their enemies” into the document. I don’t think this is a question of federalist versus anti federalist. It is a case of the term having a specific and objective meaning.

      3. Does any of that even matter any more?

        The constitution odes not ‘grant’ any damn thing. It theoretically requires the federal government to protect our natural God given rights as human beings.

        The constitution explicitly prohibits all kinds of things that are done today without apology.
        Arms infringements
        asset forfeiture
        anonymous accusations
        etc

      4. “Does the constitution explicitly and unambiguously grant Congress the power to create and maintain “state secrets?”

        No.

        So what’s your policy: the minutes of every meeting, the details of every operation of (insert name of agency), and the schematics of every device employed, and the code of every piece of software used, should be published on their respective websites. They’re all state secrets if deemed to be. Publish it all, yes?

  13. “We can no longer allow [Julian] Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us,” Pompeo declared at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    When the founders fought and died for free speech rights, there is no way they could have known it would have consequences.

    1. “James Madison was a Russian Asset”

      – CNN Headlines from the near future

  14. love Assange he should be thanked.

    1. Then you should send Putin some flowers and chocolates.

      1. Still butthurt from 2016 Macy? Poor thing.

  15. Hmm, I was just informed I need to choose my name for my confirmation today. I was thinking Augustine or Isidore, but are those too obvious?

    Hoping Eddy or Just Say’n are around to advise on this.

    1. Isidore is the patron saint of students and is considered the last scholar of the ancient world. That is always a good choice.

      1. Yes, I’m pretentious and like to associate myself with scholarly stuff. Augustine is also great, and well before I was considering becoming Catholic, when I was a mere teenager developing his political interests I read Augustine. He was a central person I read as I became obsessed with the question of Free Will as a boy.

        They’re both really good. I’m leaning towards Isidore for reasons I can’t quite explain, but am hoping for input.

        1. I like Patrick a lot. He kind of gets underappreciated and is only remembered for a day people get drunk on. In truth, he was the first person in western history to come out passionately against slavery.

        2. If you have already read “City of God” then you are already a better Catholic than the vast majority of people who sit in the pews.

          So who was right on “free will”, Augustine or Aquinas?

          1. Aquinas I’m not as familiar with. I read some of his writings on Usury in a history of economics class, but I haven’t dived deep. He is harder to read to me, he has a very, very medieval academic style.

            1. Aquinas is great, probably the greatest theologian/philosopher of the medieval period.

              If you really want some heavy duty medieval scholastic philosophy check out Duns Scotus (Dr Subtilis)…

    2. Rocco or Wolfgang.

      1. Rocco is the Saint of Bachelors apparently, and I am still hoping to end that status in my life.

        As for Wolfgang, I do not support any mob or gang mentality, whether human or animal.

    3. Wow. You’re getting confirmed? Congratulations.

      I don’t think Augustine or Isidore are too obvious. Augustine is an awesome confirmation name.

      I sincerely hope that you find joy in your new faith (and settle down with a nice Mexican woman who will give you many children). The church is better for having you in the fold. Congratulations, again.

      1. Easter Vigil I’m doing my Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. I was never baptized or had any Church association, Catholic or otherwise, so I have been doing all the RCIA and such for the last year.

    4. Cheers. Christopher is the Patron Saint of Travelers (used car sales) but that’s boring.

    5. Jude, Judas, or any derivative; patron Saint of lost causes; fits well here – – – –

    6. Congratulations! Did you get a nice white dress and a party?

  16. Great dialog.
    It’s true that Socrates could have easily escaped execution, his guards could have been bribed, the cash was readily available from Plato since his family were wealthy Athenians and the movers and shakers in Athens would have just been glad to see the back of him by exile.

    I’ve always been fascinated by that dialog, it’s an early form of social contract theory. Socrates feels bound as an Athenian to obey the laws and legal judgements of Athens since he’s benefited from being a citizen of Athens. On the other hand the charges brought against Socrates are clearly trumped up because he’s embarrassed and humiliated one too many influential Athenian politician etc. and they’re just sick of being made to look like fools after arguing him. So, from my perspective that social contract was broken by the other party and is now null and void. Also at the time of Socrates’ trial he has a wife and young family, his youngest son is still an infant and his older sons still adolescents. Don’t they figure into any moral calculus when considering what actions to take, doesn’t he feel any moral obligation as a husband and father to support them? Always wondered how Socrates would have responded to those questions.

    1. That is one of my favorite dialogs too. The other Socrates related thing I really like is Aristophenes “The Clouds”. There a contemperary shows Socrates as basically a con artist. I don’t think that is true, but I also don’t think he was as noble as his pupil Plato would have us believe. The other great thing about “The Clouds” is that it gave us the term “The Thinkery”, which is just a fabulous send up of intellectuals.

      1. I’ve read The Clouds. Aristophanes was a brilliant writer and satirist. Athenian playwrights were allowed wide latitude to say almost whatever they liked without much fear of any legal repuercussions. Most of Aristophanes corpus is lost but he boasted that he was only ever sued twice and won one of the lawsuits and lost the other one but never coughed up the fine.

        Unfortunately his portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds almost certainly influenced the outcome of Socrates’ trial and the guilty verdict. Everyone in the audience knew who that character was based on and in fact Socrates was present in the audience and stood up and took a bow in recognition of that fact. Aristophanes presents a caricature of Socrates but it’s how many Athenians would have viewed him, a highly distorted version of the real life Socrates.
        Scholars still argue whether Aristophanes was a conservative or a political radical, he can be read either way. I agree your re your comments on The Thinkery etc.

        1. We will never know what he was actually doing. You can’t fully understand what someone with as subtle and clever of a mind as Aristophanes is saying without understanding the full context, which has long been lost to history. It is pretty hard to get the subtlies of jokes and inside jokes over 2,000 years on.

          1. Aristophanes was the best.

            Socrates, like jesus, didn’t leave us any writings.
            He wanted to be martyred.

            “Bring a cock to asclepius”
            *traditional “payment” upon recovery from an illness

  17. Michael Avenatti embezzled millions from paraplegic client’s settlement, new 36-count indictment alleges

    Michael Avenatti, former attorney for Stormy Daniels, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in California on 36 counts, including embezzling from a paraplegic, court documents show.

    ROTFLMAO

    1. I am generally not big on long prison sentences for non violent crime, but stealing money from a paraplegic’s settlement is one of the exceptions that proves the rule. If he did that, I hope he never gets out of prison. What a scumbag.

      1. Sometimes a person who on the surface seems to be a colossal douche turns out to be exactly what he appears.

        1. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

          1. Can’t wait to see what Tucker Carlson has to say about the creepy porn lawyer tonight.

            Boy, did Tucker hit it out of the park with that descriptor. Absolutely a grand slam.

      2. Does the ‘victim status’ of the person really enter into a Libertarian’s view of punishment for economic harm?
        Healthy or crippled, the harm is the same.

        1. We’ll leave that up to the jury.

        2. Stealing money from someone who is not able to take care of themselves is a more morally reprehensible act than stealing money from someone who can. That doesn’t make stealing from someone who can take care of themselves right. It is still theft. It just means that some theft is worse than other theft.

        3. In a legal sense? I don’t know, I think you could make an argument for harm incurred depending on the person. Stealing 50 bucks from a homeless person does impact them more than from Bernie “The Millionaire” Sanders. Whether it’s good jurisprudence or not is a hard question, it does seem to open things up for a lot of abuse.

          In a moral sense? I think it’s pretty justified to find that more repugnant.

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  19. Hey, anyone remember vault 7?

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vault_7

    “Good” stuff…

    1. The NSA was unable to keep its most powerful and important hacking tools secret. Yet, we are supposed to believe the FBI will keep any backdoor to encryption from falling into the wrong hands.

  20. If Assange deserves our thanks, then Putin belongs on Mount Rushmore for his far more important contribution.

  21. On some levels I agree, especially when there is government malfeasance. Many of them are diplomatic cables, and governments do have a right to protect them, especially when information is from protected sources whose governments might kill or torture them if discovered. Also, the hacking of the DNC and Clinton files are private information, as much as your emails and porn perusals are private information. Whistleblowers do deserve some protection if what they reveal is truly awful, but Assange did more than that.

  22. All Hail Lord Obama, Lord of the Drones and His Most Royal defender of the Globalist Elite for His Royal Lordship’s Continuing Service to One World Government.

    All Hail !!!

  23. It’s a shame Nick is being so disingenuous here, as if Assange’s freedom to publish the leaked information is the same as as the illegal removal and leaking of it in the first place by Manning.

    If Assange was complicit in Manning’s activities, that’s one thing, but the Feds won’t win a case against him for mere publication. They know it, and that’s as it should be.

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  25. Assange is a global hero like Snowden, who has tried to inform the world of the clandestine treachery and deceit of government authoritarians. He should be awarded the Nobel Peace prize rather than be prosecuted. But he is a threat to the power of these authoritarian governments, particularly Great Britain and the US. So no doubt they will do everything they can to silence him and, thereby, frighten other would-be whistle blowers into silence.

    As libertarians, we should all demand his exoneration and release. The same applies to Snowden.

  26. The authors and the commentators in the attached video avoid or fail to put transparency or “forced transparency” perspective relative to the loss of privacy and civilian spying. There is much less consternation about Wikileaks and Assange simply because of tectonic changes in communications technology.

    Look at assessment of Assange’s work in terms of equal access to information. Is equal access to information, for citizens and for their own ‘democratic’ government, a logical part of 1st Amendment guarantees? It clearly is. ‘Informed public is essential for democracy’, Jefferson. Invoking “National Security” is just a game in these days of hegemonic Globalism bent on domination of the world. It can be more effectively argued that transparency defuses war more than it nurtures war.

    Government, through new technology as well as Patriot/terrorism deep state legislation, has attained unprecedented invasive digital power to monitor civilian activity. Do civilians lose ‘diplomatic latitude” in equal measure to what governments lose as a result of digital science applications? All secrets are made more difficult. Good or bad; it is fallout and sociopolitical impact due to changes in tool tradition; axiomatic anthropology. Assange is not to blame, integrity in journalism demands the reporter to be anarchist as slave to objectivity.

  27. Julian Assange has helped to level the information playing field even as he has decried the loss of personal privacy.
    The biggest challenge now for real democracy and fair international relations is the weakness in international law that allows governments and US Department of State and US courts police power to arrest and prosecute non-US citizens for violations of its domestic laws. The elimination of international law in favor of relative military and kangaroo diplomacy is a travesty and miscarriage of US Constitution. Are we facing, for example, the prospects of taxation of foreigners and loss of old protective treaties that disallow double taxation for individuals and corporations? The coming King Charles of England will be able to tax US citizens without representation? Under what pretext should Teresa May be able to extradite Australian citizen Assage to USA in response to Constitutionally questionable US law? Assange deserves unmitigated public support against prosecution for exercising free speech.

  28. “…Here ruining people is considered sport.” : Vince Foster

  29. From Flores, FRN:” The troublesome introduction of pre-crime prevention is necessarily a product of the techno-industrial leviathan which we face in our every day lives. It forces conscientious objectors to the war upon our lives, to respond not by acquiescence, but by resistance based upon the principles of non-aggression. It means that each of us willing to make a difference must become Political Soldiers, as the Yellow Vests have shown and are showing.
    This brings us to an age old truth ? people are only responsible for their own words and advocacy, not what others do with their own misunderstandings, and less what third parties still will make unfounded accusations about.”

    I took this out of its context but it fits this Assange issue about unfounded accusations by Russiphobia DNC neocon crowd as they swarm to kick Wikipedia and Assange.

  30. That’s the news. Being waiting too long! as I said before, no time for waiting, time for real action. People like him deserve freedom and worship like a god.

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