Monday, December 6, 2010

Julian Assange: Angel Or Demon? Paedophile Barbie, Mormons On The Run

Paul Krugman
Marc Thiessen

"Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong." - Paul Krugman
"You are either with us, or you are with WikiLeaks." - Marc Thiessen
"WikiLeaks continues to release thousands of classified documents, but some of the leaks are just gossip. Like the one saying Iranian President Ahmadinejad was once offered a 10 pm show on NBC. I guess they were just trying to ruin his reputation." – Jay Leno

Switzerland just froze all of his bank accounts, and now Julian Assange is trying to negotiate with British police to turn himself in. I can't believe how outraged many pundits and politicians are over wikileaks, they should be published in a pocket book form for light bathroom reading. People of an authoritarian mind set, whom I like to call fascists, want to see this guy punished in the worst way, see Marc Thiessen's link above. Marc used to work for the Bush White House and thinks that the NY Times should also be held responsible for publishing so much of the files this past week. It will end up in the courts, of course, and might have a similar ruling that the Pentagon Papers received, which then allowed them to be published in full. The distinction being made here is that the Pentagon Papers is the Pentagon's internal historical document being made public, and these wikileaks files are of opinions from current officers working in the field. Or are they seeded, as Dr Zbignew Brzinski suggests, with nuggets of disinformation from sources like Israel? The plot thickens...

The old hippie in me rears its ugly head and says question authority wherever it seeks to impose itself in a punitive way. The reason most things are labeled top secret is that they are mildly embarrassing if they get out, and the wikileak files is proving to be just that. They are mildly embarrassing, but there are no gonzo moments of withering descriptions of our allies, just mild criticisms that they already should be aware of, if they were any good at their jobs. In fact, there are instances of spin that show our diplomats were doing their jobs and performing well, even showing the absurdity of certain political events in a volatile world.

Robert Grenier, who worked for the CIA for 27 years and was Director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004 to 2006, points out that any system as poorly designed to allow: "... a ubiquitous military system for storing and sharing classified information which permitted a junior enlisted man of no particular account, located off in some minor military intelligence unit in Iraq, to have access to literally hundreds of thousands of classified documents on topics of little if any concern to him, as well as the means to independently download them, ought to be shot." Like most of the government's software and databases, they have been cobbled together over the years by grafting different systems onto much older, antiquated systems. In this case, it was designed to allow access by over 2.5 million employees worldwide, so the security had to suck eggs, big time.

Mr Grenier goes on to talk about the problems we've always had towards leaks of sensitive information: "Even more important, however, is the inconvenient truth lying at the heart of this whole matter: that even at this late date, the US government has not devised a straightforward, effective and intellectually honest means of dealing with the conflicting values at play when a serious leak of classified government information occurs.

This is true even in the context of normal press leaks, let alone when dealing with the issues generated by mass information-storage devices and the internet. The US government is well equipped to deal with cold-war-era espionage: Individuals providing classified information clandestinely to foreign – usually hostile – powers. The law here is quite unambiguous, and there is a large body of case precedents to back it up.

Where the press is concerned, however, the US government, even after many decades, still has not arrived at a clear, viable means of balancing the legitimate need for a free, open and unfettered press (to use an archaic term) with the equally legitimate government requirement to protect certain information for the public good.

In fact, there routinely are press leaks every bit as harmful as old-fashioned espionage. About the only thing one can say in favor of leaks, as against compromise of the same information through classic espionage, is that at least in the former case, you know when you’ve been robbed. Indeed, in the latest WikiLeaks case, the harm to national security and international relations is all the greater precisely because it was an open leak; at least a hostile power having acquired the same information would have treated it more discreetly."

Pepe Escpbar wites in the Asia Times that: " the same time, the US government and virtually the whole establishment - from neo-conservatives to Obama-light practitioners - want to pull out all stops to delete WikiLeaks or, even take out Assange, as George W Bush wanted to do with bin Laden. Grizzly nutjob Sarah Palin says Assange is worse than al-Qaeda. Such hysteria lead an Atlanta radio station to ask listeners whether Assange should be executed or imprisoned (no third option; execution won). Redneck Baptist priest Mike Huckabee, who might have been the Republican contender for president in 2008 and is now a talk-show fixture, goes for execution as well.

Who to believe? These freaks, or two frustrated US federal investigators who told the Los Angeles Times that if WikiLeaks had been active in 2001, it would have prevented 9/11? " Wikileaks as horrible demon bent on destroying our established bureaucratic way of doing things, or potential savior, bringing things up from the muck into the light of day? Interesting that the Pentagon still hasn't gotten around to fixing the security weak links, and more files can still be potentially downloaded...

Personally, I'm enjoying reading about the wikileaks, as presented each day in my newspaper. It makes it so much easier than going to the website itself and flagging to law enforcement that I've been there, and having intelligence service follow me back to my blog. Many older versions of browsers allow for the kind of software that checks your history, all of the other websites that you have been to. It was developed so that marketers could customize their advertising to you according to your browsing history, even planting a sniffer to detect where you go next on the Internet and report back to mama... Most newer versions of your browser have corrected the flaw that allowed that software to operate, so upgrading your browser to its newest version is a good thing, and make big brother's task a bit harder. although if they really want to, all they have to do is trump up some bogus charge and confiscate your computer and copy its hard drive, which would put me out of business. Good thing I am just grumpy and not obnoxious like I was when I was younger, when I thought it was fun to piss people in power off...

Well, this is just a creepy story. I don't know whether to be alarmed at the FBI's warning over the new Video Camera Barbie, or more alarmed that some sicko in the Sacramento office would come up with such a use: "A memo to investigators warned that the Barbie Video Girl could be used for the "production and possession of child pornography".

An FBI spokeswoman said there had been no reported evidence that the doll, made by Mattell, had been used in any way other than intended. The agency stressed the alert had been intended only for internal circulation.

It was issued by the Sacramento field office of the FBI, to raise awareness among investigators of "unconventional avenues" by which child pornography can be obtained, the spokeswoman added. The Barbie Video Girl doll, which went on sale earlier in the year, can record up to 30 minutes of footage through a digital camera on its front. The images can be viewed on the doll itself, or can be uploaded to a computer via USB cable.

Mattel said its products were "designed with children and their best interests in mind". Its statement added: "Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety - it is our number one priority." And one of the child's parents would have to be a child molester and personally upload the Barbie video to their computer. Guess how long this item will remain on the shelves this year?... I always thought that Mattel toys were made with ulterior purposes, now the FBI has confirmed it... Which reminds me, my sister's youngest grandchild just told us that she is now too old for dolls and not to get her any this Christmas. Oh crap, where does that leave us for presents?

I was wondering where our local allotment of Mormon missionaries had gone, there had only been one or two knocks on the door this year from those polite young men with bad haircuts. Now I know that they have been reassigned to Southeast Asia, as reported in the Asia Times: "The Mormon church is focusing more of its considerable resources on its "frontier" in Southeast and South Asia. The dedication of its young missionaries is paying off in Cambodia, where the number of converts passed 10,000 in March. Vietnam is the next big target in the region for grassroots proselytizing. - "

Maybe they feel that they've worn out their welcome in the US... I grew up with strange cultist books like the Book of Mormon and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy around the house. I also had a great-great-great grandfather who was a gunfighter, a punk who migrated to Colorado from Utah with two stated missions in his life: One - to fall in love and marry an Indian girl, and Two - to find and kill as many Mormons as he could. I know he was successful at his first objective, but not so sure as to his second, although he did end up becoming the sheriff of Canon City before the Civil War...

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