Will WikiLeaks Be the Internet’s Titanic?

Back in the early days of radio, there was a great amateur radio culture that in key ways resembled early internet culture: it was predominantly male, highly competent, espousing a belief that this new technology could democratize the world.

And in spite of the amateur radio community’s offer to set up an alternative communication system in the country–one that would provide a horizontal communication network in case the more centralized one failed in time of crisis–the powers that be were none too comfortable with the radio guys. Partly, it was just about decentralization of power. Partly, it was that the amateur operators were technically more skilled than the radio operators in the employ of the Navy.

And then the Titanic happened.

And in spite of the fact that the disaster had a lot more to do with hubris and incompetence and negligence, the amateur operators provided a handy scapegoat, based on the weak claim that amateur operators had hogged bandwidth that rescuers might have used. More importantly, the amateurs offered not only a convenient scapegoat, but the Titanic provided a wonderful opportunity to go after the radio guys, the fearmongering excuse to curtail the power of the operators, which the government did with bandwidth restrictions and a national regime covering broadcast, among other measures. Which launched the process that resulted in the top-down broadcast model offered by Westinghouse and CBS rather than the democratized horizontal network of people speaking in their own voices that might have been.

I’ve been waiting for our Titanic moment–the moment when the government would use some convenient excuse to shut down the imperfect but still better than broadcast model of the Internet. The moment when–as the government did with the Titanic and its demand for Navy hegemony of the airwaves–the government could sow fears about national security to shut down citizen media.

And as I was reading this post from Ian Welsh…

Let’s just state the obvious here: we’re seeing the end of the open internet with what is being done to WikiLeaks.  It’s one thing for Amazon to toss them, it’s another thing entirely to refuse to propagate their domain information.  This has been coming for quite some time, and WikiLeaks is not the first domain to be shut down in the US, it is merely the highest profile.  Combined with the attempt to make NetFlix pay a surcharge or lose access to customers, this spells the end of the free internet.

The absurdity, the sheer Orwellian stupidity of this is epitomized by Hilary Clinton telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State.  As if anyone who isn’t curious to read what is in the leaks, who doesn’t want to know how diplomacy actually works, is anyone State should hire.  In a sane world, the reaction would be the opposite: no one who hadn’t read them would be hired.

This is reminiscent of the way the old Soviet Union worked, with everyone being forced to pretend they don’t know what they absolutely do know, and blind conformity prized over ability.

And as I contemplate Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s fake net neutrality proposal, and as I read news of MasterCard and Visa both freezing Julian Assange’s funds, I can’t help but think this is the Titanic moment I’ve been expecting for years.

Sure, the crackdown–which puts our counterterrorism efforts to shame–is a response to the scope of this latest leak. Sure, it’s an attempt to prevent the next leak, on Bank of America.

But just as much, it’s about creating the excuse they need–the government and the legacy media protecting their turf–to undercut the power of the Internet.

107 replies
  1. klynn says:

    The double standard is quite telling.

    My husband surprised me by taking me to see Fair Game.

    We noted that it is disturbing to live in an age where the media has played an active and aware role in creating an accepted understanding that all leaks are not equal, even if they are equal in damage created.

    On that note…

    We have leaks every day from the White House. Governments use leaks to create propaganda and manipulate politics.

    Whistle blowers are being cracked down on when they reveal the lack of the rule of law or depth of criminal activity; especially, when it is being done on tax dollars. Whistle blowers are being punished for having ethics.

    We are being conditioned to practice self-censorship in a nation that has had a long history of free speech.

    What is more disturbing to me is the lack of transparency in government. The lack of a solid fourth estate with investigative journalism as a tool of accountability. These are necessary in order to prevent the criminal take-over of a democracy.

    To use WikiLeaks as the reason to kill the internet or drastically modify it, would cause dire economic damage.

    Those pushing for an internet “crack down” under the guise of security and protection of intelligence should also pull the reigns back on privatization of DoD and CIA. So much outsourcing increases our risks of leaks by private contractors.

  2. substanti8 says:

    Thank you for sharing the history of amateur radio operators and the Titanic.  Excellent post.

    Julian Assange was also arrested for sex crimes in London three hours ago.  After initially investigating the charges and dropping the case (for lack of evidence?) in August, the Swedish prosecutor suddenly reopened the case this month.  I think that character assassination through sexual taboo is a favorite tactic of the security state.

    • skdadl says:

      The investigation was never entirely closed. There were three stages: the initial arrest warrant, which was rescinded the next day by a second prosecutor, and all allegations but one minor one dropped, and then a revived investigation by a third prosecutor of reinstated serious allegations, which happened within a week.

      It was and maybe still is an investigation; JA has never been charged with anything, although Marianne Ny may by now have done that — she may announce that today. From August on, she has simply stalled. JA waited in Sweden for almost a month for a formal interview, which never happened although the complainants each had one. His lawyer asked whether he was free to leave the country, and Ny said yes. And she has stalled ever since.

      Great post, EW, and I agree on what hangs in the balance. What I fear most is the docile attitude of most North Americans, evident in many other ways.

  3. dustbunny44 says:

    This episode has surely highlighted the extent that authorities react in an irrationally inappropriate manner when someone pulls their tail. I mean, how often does Interpol issue a world-wide alert for “failure to use a condom”? Isn’t that just hilarious and despairing at once? It’s like watching an assassination in slow motion. Joe Lieberman doesn’t need a reason to be an ass, but something sure lit a fire under him this time. And how quickly have you seen the government move to do things like block their funding, call for someone to be hunted down and killed, etc.?
    I know of lots of people making near minimum wage who believe or at least echo that social security needs to be cut, that the estate tax is ruining America, that we needed to invade Iraq. Add to that list that wikileaks is a terrorist organization. I don’t know what that means for the internet as I believe, as you say, in its inherent power to democratize. But that’s assuming authorities behave rationally – they’re not. They’re genuinely pissed at whatever they perceive wikileaks has done (and I’m not sure exactly how they perceive it, or even if it hasn’t wounded them yet but they’re not waiting for that to happen). You might be right in pointing out that they’ll use this excuse to make the net neutrality debate seem pointless.

  4. Fractal says:

    Very chilling, Marcy. Thanks for the extraordinary history lesson. It reminded me of Pirate Radio. Even with rigid central control of airwaves, rock and roll broke through using guile and cunning and self-sacrifice. We can still do that. Free Wi-Fi in urban cores seems ripe for exploitation to me. We need to build defenses so nobody can drain the Lake. We should prepare.

  5. fatster says:


    Pentagon Not Properly Protecting Whistleblowers, Says DOJ

    “Insufficient resources, lack of training for investigators and a variety of other problems have plagued the Defense Department system intended to investigate allegations of retaliation against military whistleblowers, according to a recently disclosed government report. At the same time, the number of military whistleblower retaliation allegations has “more than doubled” from fewer than 300 in 1997 to nearly 600 in 2007, according to the report.”


  6. klynn says:

    fatster @ 9

    At the same time, the number of military whistleblower retaliation allegations has “more than doubled” from fewer than 300 in 1997 to nearly 600 in 2007, according to the report.”

    This is a trend that history has revealed leads to very harmful power shifts which cause societies to no longer be free.

  7. alan1tx says:

    WikiLeaks will F up the Internet just like Al Queda F’ed up air travel.

    Julian Assange = Osama Bin Laden.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Fractal says:

      no you dork, nobody caught Bin Laden. govts are spending more time & energy & money & intelligence assets to chase down one Aussie than any one of the serious killers lurking in Quetta province or Kharachi. somehow govts can force shutdown of all financial sources for whistleblowers but can’t stop the Saudis from bankrolling all the murdering motherfuckers in Pakistan, Afghanistan & Yemen.

      • alan1tx says:

        I find your calling me schoolyard names to be childish, but it seems you know a little something about the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan & Yemen.

      • bmaz says:

        govts are spending more time & energy & money & intelligence assets to chase down one Aussie than any one of the serious killers lurking in Quetta province or Kharachi. somehow govts can force shutdown of all financial sources for whistleblowers

        This seems to be as large a hyperbole as the other guy you were responding to.

        • Fractal says:

          bmaz! good morning! We got 19 degree windchill over here on the right coast, howz it goin’ in the desert?

          As for hyperbole, not so much: our favorite idiot, Joementum, is yammering on Fox about espionage (not applicable) and the US govt has basically dropped all other priority diplomatic activity to deal with the fallout from Wikileaks, at least that is what some of our allies believe, according to the UK Guardian’s live blog:


          • The WikiLeaks crisis is holding back talks on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak.


          5.15pm: Ramping up his rhetoric on Fox News just now, Senator Joe Lieberman, the head of the Senate’s homeland security committee, suggests that the New York Times and other news organisations using the WikiLeaks cables may also be investigated for breaking the US’s espionage laws.

          Lieberman told Fox News:

          To me the New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, but whether they have committed a crime is a matter of discussion for the justice department.

          5.14pm: The daily state department briefing has taken place in Foggy Bottom and WikiLeaks and Assange came up – here are some details.

          Philip Crowley, the state department press spokesman, says: “What WikiLeaks has done is a crime under US law.”

          Note that Crowley doesn’t say which law WikiLeaks has broken, and that’s the tricky part.

          Senator Joe Lieberman is on Fox News, saying that the department of justice should indict Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act and try to extradict him from the UK. Asked why this hasn’t happened, Lieberman admits that there is probably an argument going on over how to charge Assange.


          4.33pm: The WikiLeaks crisis is holding back talks on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak.

          Haaretz quoted him saying that contacts with the United States over a renewed moratorium on West Bank construction had been frozen in the wake of the WikiLeaks crisis and the tensions between North and South Korea.

          “We have not reached understanding with the United States on how to resume the construction freeze,” Barak told the Knesset foreign affairs and defence committee.

          “The negotiations with the Palestinians are of utmost priority for Israel and we must aspire to make them happen.”

          Even aside from direct evidence of US govt obsession, my point was that the immediate responses from the financial networks such as PayPal, Visa & Master Card to US govt pressure to shut down Wikileaks contrasts brilliantly with their failure to do jack-shit about funding of real terrorists from Saudi Arabia, as the cables show.

          Does anyone doubt that US intelligence is wasting time on Wikileaks? Do I need to find a Wikileaked cable about spying on Wikileaks to convince you of that?

        • bmaz says:

          Aloha from the currently actually quite pleasant land of prickly cacti! 68 degrees and nothing but blue sky can almost make you forget about the summer hell you just lived through. My point probably wan’t made very well, but say what you will, we have spent several fortunes going after AQ in Afghanistan and the neighboring provinces of Pakistan. And I do not think much money or effort at all have been expended on Assange. I am sure that MI 5-6 of the Brits and CIA have known all along exactly where Assange is with very little effort. Heck it has been a pretty public secret. The only effort the US has expended is through generating bellicose hot air and publicity and some pressure on credit transfer joints like PayPal, Vis and MC. In short, the US is working it hard, it just does not seem like it has required much monetary outlay to do so.

        • skdadl says:

          It didn’t take MI5/6 or the CIA to know where JA was. He has never been in hiding — that is one of the frequent falsehoods. He has entered every country he’s gone to legally, and the local authorities have always known how to contact him. Always.

          If he takes security measures, it’s because of the death threats emanating especially from the U.S., which could be inciting just about anything. But he has never hidden from local authorities.

        • Fractal says:

          check out what Glenn Greenwald was apparently saying on Amy Goodman’s show this morning @52. Maybe me not so much hyperbolic, compadre.

    • BillyP says:

      There’s no doubt that 9/11 was a military operation engineered and executed by rogue elements of the US military, CIA and/or Mossad. However, maybe the information Assange has and is threatening to release is so damaging that the MSM and even the most ill informed BOZO citizen would be forced to believe the same; A “smoking gun” that proves 9/11 was an inside job. Assange may be publicly backing the 9/11 Commission Report when he knows it’s totally fraudulent because it’s his last and most powerful card to play. Maybe he’s being run and supplied with documents by a faction in the US military and the “Good” CIA that is attempting a counter coup against the 9/11 coup d’etat.

      It certainly seems that you would agree that there was a 9/11 military coup d’etat. So, is Assange a protector of the coup or a counter coup agent?

      “Dr. Alan Sabrosky, former director of studies at the US Army War College says that the military brass now know that Israel and those traitors within our nation committed the 911 attack. ”

      The fact that the military was involved with “war games” of the exact nature that would intentionally confuse or co-opt a real event which caused Norad to stand down as opposed to normal procedure to scramble jets, especially a multi plane scenario is difficult to read any other way. With the fact that Cheney was the one in a military bunker while Bush continued to sit in a classroom while the US is supposedly under attack boggles the mind.

      Angel was next.

    • onitgoes says:

      Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. All you’re doing is playing “shoot the messenger.”

      Osama bin Laden is not personally responsible for “effin up” air travel. It’s not even certain how much ObL had to do with the 911 alleged attacks. The “effing up” of air travel is a direct consequence of the Bushco Admin, which continues to this day. The main goal now appears to be the enrichment of various Oligarchs like Chertoff and Cheney, now making $$$ from YOUR tax dollars on the dubious porno-rape-scan machines, which do almost nothing in terms of “protecting” us from “terrorism.”

      If it hadn’t been 911, something else would’ve happened. 911’s been an economic goldmine for the PTB in this nation and elsewhere. The MIC is making $$$ hand over fist, and Dick Cheney sure got rich from his no-bid Halliburton contracts for crummy services, some of which resulted in deaths of US military personnel, in Iraq & Afghanistan.

      If Julian Assange hadn’t done the WikiLeaks, something else would’ve happened. The end result would be the PTB tightening the reigns, restricting our rights to privacy and liberty, and further ripping us off in one fashion or another.

      Stop blaming false flags, like Osama bin Laden & Julian Assange. THEY are NOT the problem here.

      • EternalVigilance says:

        Stop blaming false flags, like Osama bin Laden & Julian Assange.

        Isn’t that the entire purpose of false flags? ;-)

        And as others have suggested, this isn’t the Internet’s Titanic. This is clearly the Internet’s 9-11, the first large-scale false flag operation in cyberspace.

      • alan1tx says:

        Note the title: “Will WikiLeaks Be the Internet’s Titanic?”

        It’s not literal, WikiLeaks won’t really be the Titanic.

        The article indicates = There was amateur radio, then the Titanic happened, then the government clamped down.

        It’s like an analogy to say: There was free Internets, then WikiLeaks happened, and the government will clamp down.

        Now let’s make the jump to say: There was easy air travel, then Al Queda happened, and the government clamped down.

        WikiLeaks doesn’t have to have power over the Internet.

        • hektor6766 says:

          There were pamphlets distributed at army recruiting stations, and the government clamped down. And made up some story about a fire in a crowded movie theater.

        • ottogrendel says:

          Does making the jump assume that “Al Queda happened” is a cause and not an excuse? Does it address locus of power and proportionate responsibility for the actions or, more broadly, reactions of the government? Does it assume an inevitable course of action?

  8. JTMinIA says:

    >> “What I fear most is the docile attitude of most North Americans, evident in many other ways.”

    Hey, man, as long as I can still watch football on ATDHE.net and stay current on the Kardashians, what do I care if a few commies can’t bad-mouth Amerika on the web?

  9. Fractal says:

    UK Guardian is live-blogging Julian’s day in court over here. Along the lines of Marcy’s warning about rigid central control killing the Internet, we know Visa and Master Card are being asshats trying to starve Wikileaks of donations. Well, guess what? It’s okay with them if yer a white supremacist!

    4.14pm: Charles Arthur, the Guardian’s technology editor, points out that while MasterCard and Visa have cut WikiLeaks off you can still use those cards to donate to overtly racist organisations such as the Knights Party, which is supported by the Ku Klux Klan.

    The Ku Klux Klan website directs users to a site called Christian Concepts. It takes Visa and MasterCard donations for users willing to state that they are “white and not of racially mixed descent. I am not married to a non-white. I do not date non-whites nor do I have non-white dependents. I believe in the ideals of western Christian civilisation and profess my belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God.”

  10. perrylogan says:

    “The sheer Orwellian stupidity of this is epitomized by Hilary Clinton telling students at elite colleges not to read the leaks, or they won’t get jobs at State.”

    I’m pretty sure this statement is false.

  11. TalkingStick says:

    I also have been waiting to see the government seize any opportunity to restrict the Internet. In my view, it will happen. It is just a matter of time. Truth is simply too dangerous for governments.

    I have commented on this previously but think a repeat worthwhile. I remind people it is not necessary to use the internet to communicate with other computers. The old BB system, perfected by Compuserve, can still be available to activists. It I think would be worthwhile for us to hold on to and develop these alternative means.

    • Fractal says:

      right. no sarcasm intended, we can always go back to dialup. think of it as CB radio, to follow Marcy’s analogy.

      • TalkingStick says:

        Yes. Not as much fun but for chat and sending text, it works. I would also expect that technology would be developed to improve on that. I am not literate enough to predict the possibilities but encourage activists to learn the technology as much as possible and be prepared for some sort of underground way of communicating. It is a lot easier for the goverment to shutdown mega servers, not so easy to track down a bunch of individual computers not connected to the Internet.

        • Fractal says:

          peer-to-peer connections still run over the backbone, don’t they? Think about this: I just discovered how to use my Bluetooth phone with my Bluetooth Mac. Once I paired the fone to the Mac, the fone now shows up as an available fax modem. We could go back to faxes. Also, the cellphone grid while super-vulnerable to wiretapping, might be less vulnerable to service denial. So, might be time to buy up lots of prepaid cell fones. We all live in Gaza now.

        • TalkingStick says:

          peer-to-peer connections still run over the backbone, don’t they?

          I don’t know for sure but I do recall direct dialing a home number of an individual p c and that we reached Compuserve nodes through individual phone numbers.

          In any event you say it well

          We all live in Gaza now.

    • Sabre-Toothed Critter says:

      I used to run one of those…did so for 10 years. It was awesome…no spam, super-easy troll control.

      The only obstacle is that state governments began to throw us in jail. They would send spies to log on, and if they found too many cuss words or any sexual language, or if a naked pic was found on a networked PC, they would soon be banging down your door…most states called it a “Child Protection Act” or something similar. In some cases, the cops were the ones who actually posted the offending material before busting the sysop for it. Then AOL went online, and the BBs disappeared for the most part.

      Truth is, starting up a BB would be easier today than it was in 1988.

  12. VORE says:

    Hold on… I thought government intervention was what is desired over here? Isn’t your progressive bedrock more government, bigger government, more government control? Well here you go…

    • onitgoes says:

      You know that’s crap. Come back when you’re ready to participate in an intelligent discussion about the important issues facing us.

    • hektor6766 says:

      I’ll assume that’s not a light coming on that you’ve been lied to by the right-wing authoritarians, only sarcasm. It’s good policy never to ask a conservative a question because it only opens the door for spin.

  13. DWBartoo says:

    Sinking feelings are timely, relevant, and and completely appropriate.

    (As is this post, prescient, as it undoubtably is.)

    The only relevant question is: How far down is the bottom?

    (The “rate” of descent is always, it appears, “relative”, but unless I miss my quess, things do appear to be speeding up, with even more “acceleration”, as “they” say, “looking forward”…)


  14. Arbusto says:

    Interesting how world governments, in concert with corporations, e.g. Vista and MasterCard, have unilaterally frozen accounts, refused contributions, shut down a web page and issued an international arrest warrant for what is in effect an untried misdemeanor. To bad this range of ultra fast fascist action couldn’t be used to make the word a better place instead of closer to an international police state.

    • onitgoes says:

      Yes. Isn’t it too darn bad, and isn’t it very interesting how quickly they ALL acted together on this.

      Time for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee. Unfortunately too many citizens are not paying attention.

  15. Larue says:

    Great read Mz, Wheeler . . . and sadly, likely spot on in regards to the end of internet freedoms we’ve enjoyed up to now.

  16. kabuki101 says:

    Has anyone read the diatribe of Gauleiterin Feinstein against the Fatherland-subverting Wikileaks? Yes, I know, writing that sentence is odd isn’t it? For a load of historical reasons. But it’s where we’ve arrived at in the people’s paradise of the National Socialist States of America.

  17. cregan says:

    Assange f’d us all.

    No doubt the powers that be will put their foot down now.

    Mirror sites? Who cares, the plug will literally be pulled.

    It will take a year or so to enact the laws, but they are coming.

    • Arbusto says:

      So calling the US on supporting the Saudi that support terrorist, back room deals and general bullshit, caused these assholes in government, judiciary and commerce, to do what they ultimately want; total control of information and us. I guess we get the government(s) we deserve.

  18. revisionist says:

    I take issue with your analogy – not your premise.

    One of the issues with early radio was that there were no rules at all. Operators could broadcast at any power level of frequency they chose. Signals overlapped, where drowned out or there was a static cacophoney. Yes the navy rescurer thing was a convient excuse but the industry needed some sort of regulation. I would also argue that after the regulation the industry itself flourished. Amatuers where the first ones to start selling ads too so it was commercialized without Westinghouse.

    Under the earlier free for all model, lets say you had a progressive radio program in NYC. Some Teabagger could start broadcasting at a higher power level from some farm in New Jersey and “knock” you off the air.

    I wholly support an open and free internet. Personally, I think the most daamge was done about 10 years ago when the MBA’s took it over and commercilaized it. But the thing is we are actually approaching “peak bandwidth”. The infrastructure cant support consumption which increases wih every passing day and the release of every new gadget. So regardless of where you stand on the issue, I predict that “something” will have to happen in the next 5 years or its gonna start feeling like we are all on 14.4 modems again.

  19. matutinal says:

    Historically astute post, Marcy. But to offer a bit of devil’s advocacy with a twist of McLuhan, maybe radio was always destined to be “hot” or “tribal” (and in that sense tending toward demagoguery). Maybe the Internet cat is out of the bag enough that its distinctly different technology (“the internet treats censorship and damage and routes around it”) will have escaped confinement. Witness the hundreds of mirror sites making Wikileaks currently available. In other words, I hope you’re being too pessimistic!

    • emptywheel says:

      .No medium is ever predestined to be something or other. I think it’s as hard now today to think of “radio” as something other than primarily a broadcast medium, just as it’s still a little hard to think of the Tubes as a broadcast medium.

      Though I actually think the commercial forces will play an interesting role here, since their ability to get individualized data is more valuable to them than old models of advertising.

      • Fractal says:

        You think corporations will force governments to maintain a relatively-accessible internet in order to sell to us? So, for the sake of corporate profits, govts will be dissuaded from shutting down the toobz and the people will continue to use the toobz to blow the whistle on their govts?

        • Gitcheegumee says:


          Speaking of blowing whisles,have you seen this?

          Homeland Security & Walmart Team Up To Fight Terrorism In The …Dec 7, 2010 … In a move that makes virtually no sense whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security has announced a partnership with Walmart.
          consumerist.com/…/homeland-security-walmart-team-up-to-fight-terrorism-in -the-checkout-line.html

          NOTE: Is this a coinkydink that this announcement is right on the heels of yesterday’s decision by the Supremes to review the merits of Dukes vs. WalMart class action suit-the largest of it’s kind in US corporate history?

  20. JTMinIA says:

    Marcy –

    Is there any way you can get Firedog Lake to *not* “promote” your threads until a few hours have passed? I enjoy reading the intelligent discussion that often ensues; then I stop when the thread goes “upstairs.” This one didn’t get enough time before the signal-to-noise dropped to zero.

  21. ottogrendel says:

    Today in the student paper at the university where I work, there was an opinion poll of undergrads responding to the question, “How do you feel about WikiLeaks and its creator, Julian Assange?” Two-thirds responded negatively and one-third neutral. No one supported WikiLeaks or Assange. Typical comments of those opposed were: “They should find the person and have them executed”; “There is too much information that can be released; it’s not controlled”; “The simple fact that he’s not American should cause suspicion”; “If I find the guy, I’ll put my foot in his ass”; and “Because he’s not an American, go after him.”

    Fertile ground for turning the internet into the TV. It’s hard to have freedom and democracy when so few believe in it, much less act on it.

  22. Kassandra says:

    Speaking of radio; I’m listening to Thom Hartmann develop one of his theories on why Obama will now “rush into a phone booth and turn into a progressive superman because he now has a real enemy”.
    Like he hasn’t, ostensibly all along.
    As for the internet, we’ve been seeing this coming since ’04. TPTB can;t possible allow thsi much free speech…anywhere

  23. newz4all says:

    Glenn Greenwald Talking with Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now!

    I just want to underscore how alarming everything is that you just described, both in that report and in your earlier one, which is, whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they’ve never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted.

    And yet, look at what has happened to them.

    They’ve been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries.

    Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his — for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund. They’ve had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off.

    Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization.

    What’s really going on here is a war over control of the internet and whether or not the internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions. That’s what this really is about.

    It’s why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that’s what really is at stake here.

    If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means.

    But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power.


    • marc5 says:

      I’d like to emphasize that these disturbing censorship actions of the US government are effective because they are incremental. There is no “KILL THE INTERNET!” switch (sorry Sen. DroopyDog) and there’s never likely to be one.

      But, with the cooperation of corporate friends, you can prune here and there and effectively mute a small set of targets. Sure there are lotsa lotsa mirrors, etc. But for the masses the fact that wikileaks.org doesn’t pop up when they type it into their browser means it does not exist. BitTorrent and various other tech is not yet integrated into consumer browsers so it won’t matter for most.

      Full Internet censorship is probably impossible, but soft, targeted censorship is very do-able by any government which choses to turn against its people in these early days of the information age.

      • matutinal says:

        Good points. That’s why people have to counter via their social media and other connections. The giant media flame campaign should be reason enough to wonder and keep watching.

        The B of A documents should be interesting. The “original” Bank of America was founded by AP Giannini in San Francisco and had a very strong service culture. In 1998 it was acquired by Nations Bank – an aggressive North Carolina outfit whose strategy included cozening wealthy customers while directing the regular riffraff to computer kiosks, conveniently located where tellers used to be at local branch banks!

  24. Starbuck says:

    Let’s set the record straight about the hams during the Titanic disaster, as written by a participant:


    There is way too much to go into here; just the technical details surrounding the use of spark gap transmitters would fill up the pages. Spark gap transmitters themselves cause enormous interference artifacts. Google “Amateur Radio Titanic” for more.

    I am a former ham operator.

  25. rmacdonald says:

    I think everyone needs to look at this a little more carefully. Yes the government and corporate interests have done their darnedest to shutdown Wiki-leaks. But you know what, the information is still out there on the Internet, just waiting to be released. If you don’t believe me just google wiki-leaks, it’s still there on many mirror sites. The Internet is built so it can’t be taken down, that’s the reason governments and corporations are so scared.

  26. kabuki101 says:

    Quoted from the Guardian Wikileaks liveblog

    5.30pm: With perfect timing an email arrives from Philip Crowley at the state department:

    The United States is pleased to announce that it will host Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from 1-3 May in Washington, DC.

    Ironic? Read the next paragraph from the press release:

    The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and
    innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

    Shameless. You really could not make it up.

  27. myshadow says:

    It is starting. This morning on GE=MSNBC chris jansing ran with a story about al qaeda using wiki leaked documents to select potential targets. She then had some fake ‘security expert’ on to reinforce the fact that even though the ‘target information’ was easily on the internet, ‘it would take years’ of intelligence gathering.
    I won’t be surprised if there wasn’t some inside hit, and leiberman will craft some form of invasive legislation to impair the web at best and form restrictions at worst.

  28. OldFatGuy says:

    Sure, the crackdown–which puts our counterterrorism efforts to shame–is a response to the scope of this latest leak. Sure, it’s an attempt to prevent the next leak, on Bank of America.

    Bold mine. IMO that’s ALL this about. The cables are embarrassing. The stuff on BoA could be worldchanging. THAT’s the reason for this. They’re using the same standard bait and switch. I mean imagine, how would the public react if they reacted to the cable leaks the same way they did to the war report leaks (basically not much reaction) but then they got friggin crazy over the BoA leaks? THAT wouldn’t have the national security excuse, so wouldn’t fly.

    They’ve latched onto the national security aspect of this leak to allow public opinion to be with them on these more draconian measures, measures taken actually to prevent the BoA stuff.

    Think about it Marcy.

      • OldFatGuy says:

        The BoA stuff has likely got stuff in there showing and proving how banksters brought down the whole house of cards through illegal means, and how they’re still basically doing it BUT with the help and support of the governments. Proof like that in the hands of a world’s population that’s been having to eat helping after helping of austerity shit pie ain’t gonna fly.

        Like I said, world changing stuff.

        THIS needs to be priority number one IMO.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Not to get off an a tangent, but this line of thought brought back to mind a piece I posted a couple of times before….dateline ’06:

          From May,2006:

          What really happened the day Porter Goss resigned


          President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

          Unbeknownst to almost all of Washington and the financial world, Bush and every other President since Jimmy Carter have had the authority to exempt companies working on certain top-secret defense projects from portions of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Administration officials told BusinessWeek that they believe this is the first time a President has ever delegated the authority to someone outside the Oval Office. It couldn’t be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision.

          The timing of Bush’s move is intriguing. On the same day the President signed the memo, Porter Goss resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency amid criticism of ineffectiveness and poor morale at the agency.
          Only six days later, on May 11, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had obtained millions of calling records of ordinary citizens provided by three major U.S. phone companies. Negroponte oversees both the CIA and NSA in his role as the administration’s top intelligence official.

          William McLucas, the Securities & Exchange Commission’s former enforcement chief, suggested that the ability to conceal financial information in the name of national security could lead some companies “to play fast and loose with their numbers.” McLucas, a partner at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in Washington, added: “It could be that you have a bunch of books and records out there that no one knows about.”


          Yesindeed, there could very well be a lot of books and records no one knows about.

  29. bobschacht says:

    I sure hope that your website here is reaping ad dollars hand over fist, because otherwise the neon-flashing ad in the top right corner is REALLY OFFENSIVE and a distraction from the fine work that you do. If they are not paying you handsomely for the privilege of the top right spot, you should give them the boot, or at least you should raise the price substantially. I can’t even tell you what the ad is advertising because I refuse to click on it, and can’t even look at it for more than a second or two. It is truly an offense to my eyes, and an eyesore. But if they’re paying you good bucks, then I guess it’s worth it.

    Bob in AZ

    • PJEvans says:

      Bob, you know she doesn’t choose the ads. (However, there are ways to block them. I don’t block stuff that’s from FDL, but I do block the outside ads.)

      here are URLs for ad servers that you can block: ad.yieldmanager.com serving-sys.com bs.serving-sys.com ads.pointroll.com adopt.euroclick.com tacoda.net zedo.com videoegg.adbureau.net ads.adsonar.com

  30. Fractal says:

    Obama in WH presser not selling me on why we should swallow his payoffs to the uber-rich. Missed whatever he may have said about Wikileaks. He openly invokes support “of labor” for KORUS FTA. He repeatedly struts his plan to fight Rethuglicans after he gets the people “in a safe place.” Dunno if anyone asked him the cost of giving the plutocrats an extra 20% refund on their estate taxes. He bragged that the payroll tax holiday is being scored by economists as more stimulative for economic growth than any other aspect of the deal. (I do agree that FICA taxes are hugely regressive; why not just repeal the entire 6.2% payroll tax since nobody pays any of it on their income above $106K.)

  31. Fractal says:

    Obama now taunting Rethuglicans that now they have the obligation to make a budget. So, he’s saying, “bring it on” in the next Congress. But meanwhile he abandoned all moral leadership. Last questioner pressed him for third or fourth time “where do you draw a line in the sand?” Now Obama is ranting again about the progressive left complaining about the lack of public option in health ins. reform! What an ass! (Screw you Barack!)

    He accuses critics of wanting to allow unemployment to run out. Well guess the fuck what? It already ran out permanently for four (4) million workers (those beyond 99 weeks).

  32. Fractal says:

    He always gets most self-righteous and articulate when he is called on his bullshit. Long, long rant to end the presser, worth checking the transcript on ….

    • OldFatGuy says:

      He gets the most defensive and pissed when dealing with criticism from the left, which is based on reality. When the right wing comes at him with hateful, racist, bullshit…. crickets.

  33. Ryan says:

    We will not go down with the ship, at least not quietly.

    I, for one, will fight for a free and fair internet until my last breath.

  34. pithy waters says:

    I appreciate the history lesson and respectfully disagree with your premise. Wikileaks is not the internet’s Titanic – Wikeleaks is secrecy’s Titanic.

    In the United States in 1913 there were 322 licensed amateur radio operators. By 1917 there were 13,581 amateur radio operators. There’s no

    I’ve always wondered why the ‘powers that be’ allowed the internet to slip under their radar. There is no stopping it, and Wikileaks just proved that. 700+ mirror sites already? How do you stop that?

    It is a joke to think that the FCC can undercut the power of the internet.
    Iran tried. The people still twittered and the information got out.

    Transparency is here. Hopefully, the ‘powers that be’ are becoming cognizant of that fact.

  35. stsmytherie says:

    Marcy, if you could post some resources on the Titanic/radio connection, I’d appreciate it. I started doing an MA thesis on the web, radio and public policy something like a dozen years ago, but got sidelined by a career. Just unearthed my research notes yesterday for an article on a different tangent (patents, copyright and innovation). This Titanic angle is not something I’d come across in my (admittedly limited) original research and would like to dig deeper. Thx.

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