Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Anti-WikiLeaks lies and propaganda

Anti-WikiLeaks lies and propaganda
(1) In The New Republic today, Todd Gitlin writes an entire anti-WikiLeaks column that is based on an absolute factual falsehood. Anyone listening to most media accounts would believe that WikiLeaks has indiscriminately published all 250,000 of the diplomatic cables it possesses, and Gitlin -- in the course of denouncing Julian Assange -- bolsters this falsehood: "Wikileaks’s huge data dump, including the names of agents and recent diplomatic cables, is indiscriminate" and Assange is "fighting for a world of total transparency."

The reality is the exact opposite -- literally -- of what Gitlin told TNR readers. WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has. Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them (The Guardian, the NYT, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Speigel, etc.). Moreover, the cables posted by WikiLeaks were not only first published by these newspapers, but contain the redactions applied by those papers to protect innocent people and otherwise minimize harm. Here is an AP article from yesterday detailing this process:

[T]he group is releasing only a trickle of documents at a time from a trove of a quarter-million, and only after considering advice from five news organizations with which it chose to share all of the material.

"They are releasing the documents we selected," Le Monde's managing editor, Sylvie Kauffmann, said in an interview at the newspaper's Paris headquarters. . . .

"The cables we have release correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a question-and-answer session on The Guardian's website Friday.

Just as they did prior to releasing the Afghanistan war documents, WikiLeaks -- according to AP -- "appealed to the U.S. ambassador in London, asking the U.S. government to confidentially help him determine what needed to be redacted from the cables before they were publicly released." Although the U.S. -- again -- refused to give such guidance, WikiLeaks worked closely with these media outlets to ensure that any material which has no valid public interest value and could harm innocent people was withheld. And Assange's frequent commitments to engage in "harm minimization" when releasing documents gives the lie to Gitlin's assertion that he is "fighting for a world of total transparency."

I understand that the media has repeated over and over the false claim that WikiLeaks "dumped" all 250,000 diplomatic cables on the Internet -- which is presumably how this falsehood made its way into Gitlin's brain and then into his column -- but that's no excuse for him and TNR editors failing to undertake the most minimal due diligence (such as, say, checking WikiLeaks' website) before publishing this claim. I've emailed Gitlin and TNR Editor-in-Chief Franklin Foer early this morning and advised them of the need for a correction, but have heard nothing. I will post any reply I get. They're entitled to condemn WikiLeaks all they want, but not to propagate this factual falsehood.

(2) According to The New York Times' Brian Stelter, Matt Lauer -- when announcing Assange's arrest in London this morning -- proclaimed: "The international manhunt for Julian Assange is over" -- as though Assange is Osama bin Laden or something. I don't know if it's sheer empty-headedness or excessive servile-to-power syndrome -- probably both, as is usually the case -- but that claim is both painfully dumb and misleading. There was no valid arrest warrant in England for Assange until yesterday; he then immediately turned himself into British law enforcement. There was no "international manhunt." How long before Matt Lauer and his friends start featuring playing cards with all the WikiLeaks Villains on the them ("and here we have Julian Assange, the Terrorist Mastermind, who is the Ace of Spades!")? Answer: as soon as the Government produces them and hands them to the media with instructions to use them.
Critics of Wikileaks are hyperventilating when they claim Wikileaks has done some great harm. In some ways they are using the same misinformation as Wikileaks fans. Wikileaks has not published all the documents in their possession and have left the same redacts which newspapers around the world have used when publishing the same material.

Facing Backlash From The U.S. Chamber’s Right-Wing Ads, More Local Chambers Plan To End Their Membership
This year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran one of the largest, most partisan, corporate-funded attack campaigns in its history. It worked closely with Karl Rove’s network of attack groups, while raising $75 million dollars to smear Democrats, including Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and others. The Chamber’s ads were particularly sleasy; many were patently untrue, while others criticized Democrats for supporting legislation that the Chamber actually asked them to support.
Steve King Supports Return To McCarthy-Era House Investigations Panel
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared to lend support in a recent interview to the re-creation of a congressional committee directly descended from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a panel that was originally formed at the height of the Red Scare to be the chamber's deliberative body to handle the duties of Sen. Joe McCarthy's anti-communism crusade.

In an interview with Right Side News, King was asked if he supported a recent conspiracy-laced speech by conservative media mogul Cliff Kincaid, in which he argued that the next Republican Congress should bring back the House Internal Security Committee in order to combat "the ugly spread of Marxism in America." King responded, "I would. I think that is a good process and I would support it."

The House Internal Security Committee was the followup to the highly controversial HUAC, a congressional body meant to serve as a counterpart to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in which McCarthy was heavily involved. The HUAC was notoriously involved in a Hollywood investigation of actors, directors and writers that were allegedly communist sympathizers. More than 300 motion pictures professionals were put on a Hollywood blacklist as a result of hearings by the committee.
Maybe we should have an Un-American Activities Committee. We could begin the investigations into right-wing Republicans like King and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who represent the values of the Third Reich rather than America.