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Calls for WikiLeaks to be “transparent” are stupid, evil, or both

9 September 2010 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in activism, mind control | 22 Comments »

In amidst the general outcry from the US government, its foreign hangers-on, its establishment toadies in the mainstream media and the blogosphere reaction to the WikiLeaks releases of Collateral Murder and the Afghan War Diary, there is a line of “reasoning” often presented which goes like this: “Isn’t it ironic that WikiLeaks, an organization that claims to be working for ‘transparency’ is anything but transparent regarding its own operations? *chortle*”

WikiLeaks logoHere’s Jim Barnett, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab at establishment pillar Harvard University:

“If WikiLeaks really wants to promote transparency, it should start with its own operations.”

John “WikiLeaks > Cryptome = sour grapes” Young, quoted in a rather insane article suggesting, among other things, that WikiLeaks is a CIA/Mossad front organization, says:

“The principal deficiency of Wikileaks is its lack of transparency about its operators and funds, characteristics of spies and secret societies up to no good and whose main purpose is to hide from public accountability and conceal corruption and criminality.”

Into the midst of an otherwise decent-looking piece of journalism, Jeanne Whalen and David Crawford, writing for establishment mouthpiece The Wall Street Journal, inject:

“WikiLeaks’s lack of financial transparency stands in contrast to the total transparency it seeks from governments and corporations.”

It’s hard to separate out the stupid from the evil here, and I’m not going to try. But let’s break it down. What’s being said here is that since it represents itself as a champion of transparency among governments and giant corporations, WikiLeaks ought to eat its own dog food and be transparent itself.

Has a nice sort of happy-symmetry ring to it, doesn’t it? But it’s wrong.

What WikiLeaks (and sites like it, including, to his credit, John Young’s cryptome.org) brings to the world is a mechanism for subjecting the most powerful, wealthiest and least accountable institutions on the planet to the merciless light of public scrutiny so that they cannot continue enjoying the benefit of secrecy in exploiting people and planet.

It should be blindingly obvious to these and other like-minded commentators that the “transparency” logic simply does not apply to such an organization. The public has no need whatever to know the internal workings of a volunteer, donation-funded organization that heroically stands up to the world’s greatest powers. Additionally, the more information that’s public about such a group’s inner workings, the more opportunity for those powers to subvert, corrupt, disrupt, discredit and destroy it.

Maybe that’s just not obvious to them, in which case I call them stupid. But maybe it is obvious to them. If so, that strongly suggests to me that they’re in the service of evil, if not evil themselves.

  1. 22 Responses to “Calls for WikiLeaks to be “transparent” are stupid, evil, or both”

  2. By CertainQuirk on 9 September 2010

    Indeed Mike, I figured this argument out weeks ago when all this spin was being spun but you’re the first I’ve seen to document it, and you did it well– lol funny and succinct. And the conclusion is smack on the money. Thank you.

  3. By Sabretache on 9 September 2010

    The public has no need whatever to know the internal workings of a volunteer, donation-funded organization that heroically stands up to the world’s greatest powers.

    I think that is a bit naive. The history of pretty well any and every organisation that relies on volunteers and donations is that its leaders cannot resist aggrandizement.

    Or is Julian Assange a saint?

    And if he is, the example of the Princes of the Church – you know they who decide on sainthood should stand as a salutary caution.

    Proper financial accountability is a perfectly reasonable expectation of ANY organisation. If it isn’t forthcoming any such organisation will be corrupted – period.

  4. By Sabretache on 9 September 2010

    Oops

    That should say “…volunteers and donations AND WHOSE FINANCES ARE OPAQUE”. and SELF-agrandisement.

  5. By CertainQuirk on 9 September 2010

    @Sabretatch: Quote: “Proper financial accountability is a perfectly reasonable expectation of ANY organisation. If it isn’t forthcoming any such organisation will be corrupted – period.”

    I agree, WikiLeaks should become transparent, but not now– only at some point in the future when the Powers-That-Be are no tracking them with coldblooded intent and instruments of slaughter (such as, severing connections to needed donations which we all know they are completely capable of).

    When will that point in the future become recognizable? Probably about the time that WikiLeaks itself is no longer needed.

  6. By memefilter on 9 September 2010

    First, great post Mike. Right on the money.

    Second, I’m a volunteer chanop in the wikileaks chatroom. I have no idea who anyone is other than their screen names, including staff, and I don’t mind one little bit. Why? Because it is their behavior that matters, not their names or locations. It is a ridiculous argument to suggest I “should” know anything more than whether or not they leak documents – everything else is wholly irrelevant, off topic, not applicable.

    Folks who can’t understand this frankly simple reasoning need to apply a little logical rigor to their thinking. You don’t think you “need transparency” when it comes to how your computer works, you just use it and if it works that’s all the proof you need that it’s functioning properly. You don’t “need” to know the phone number of every person who ever bought anything from your grocery store, you just need the food.

    WL is the same. You don’t “need” to know jack nor shite about their operations, you just need to see the leaks. That is how it’s designed, it’s that way for a very good reason, and if you can’t figure it out that’s your problem not theirs.

    Please be advised that doing the wrong thing, whether by idiocy or intent, will harm your credibility in the new economics. As the title says, commenters, “calls for WikiLeaks to be “transparent” are stupid, evil, or both”. You are no exception.

  7. By CertainQuirk on 9 September 2010

    @memefilter: I tend to disagree with your statement and your analogies.

    You are correct, I do not want to be checking for error logs in my computer, I want it to work. That is not analogous, however, in the “new economics” (which I take to mean modern age or something similar) where I most definitely want to know if its (my pc) component parts are the product of slave labor or notoriously unhealthy conditions, etc. Nor will I donate money to an outfit that refuses to give me a breakdown of their budget. I vote with my money and I’m not the only person who does.

    As I noted above, I’m willing to make an exception to WikiLeaks simply because they are exceptional at this moment in time.

  8. By Hissyspit on 10 September 2010

    @sabreteche Except that we actually do know quite a bit about WikiLeaks financial structure. But again, you are essentially arguing that the group should take part in actions that would essentially destroy it, thus removing its ability to hold governments accountable, the whole purpose of the group. If WikiLeaks is unsustainable as a model with its current mode of financial operation, it is unsustainable. And maybe some future group will grow out of what is learned, but there is no particular reason for the members to allow the group to be financially destroyed by bad actors outside of it on the POSSIBILITY it might corrupt itself from within.

  9. By Hissyspit on 10 September 2010

    Sorry for the lack of paragraph breaks, everyone. First time post.

  10. By CertainQuirk on 10 September 2010

    @Hissyspit: Great nick and comment :)

  11. By Sabretache on 10 September 2010

    Hissyspit et al.

    To be clear. I admire and fully support the stated purposes of Wikileaks. There are myriad complexities surrounding it’s having morphed from making the news to becoming the news – not least of which are the inevitable attentions of the SIS’s that its profile attracts (or rather appears to have forced in this case). However, so long as there is no way of reassuring doners that cash (which many can ill-afford to part with anyway) is not being diverted, many will not provide financial support.

    Lets not forget we’re already talking big bucks here. And the market for secret information of all kinds is vast – probably bigger than the drugs trade globally – that is a recipe for very serious scullduggery and no amount of fervent naive utopian volunteer support is going to change that simple fact one iota.

    There are other ‘thorn-in-the-side’ NGO’s that manage considerable financial transparency and protections for their doner base. With Assange himself saying there’s over a million bucks in the bank, there’s no reason why Wikileaks can’t do likewise – always bearing in mind that these days, every banking transaction on the entire planet is get-atable by the NSA – if not monitored in real time where the account is ‘of interest’.

    I maintain wikileaks pages on wikispooks for anyone interested – It’s less whistleblower and more deep state information/reference but a big debt to Wikileaks is acknowledged on it. The site needs more wiki-text mark-up savvy contributors/editors too

  12. By Sabretache on 10 September 2010

    Oops more typos!

    That link should be <a href="https://wikispooks.com"Wikispooks

  13. By Sabretache on 10 September 2010

    I give up!

    This board needs a message preview button!!! – if only for dyslexics like me.

    Wikispooks

  14. By RoyceChristian on 10 September 2010

    I’m sorry, I was under the impression Wikileaks was, essentially, leaderless, with Assange only being a face and spokesperson. After all, if Assange, for whatever reason, is arrested or disappears, the entire operation will continue unaffected.

  15. By Seth on 10 December 2010

    Note: this is reposted from a comment an yet another asinine call (by csmonitor.com) for Wikileaks to be more “transparent”.

    It’s a joke to call for “transparency” on behalf of Wikileaks in a situation like this, and here’s why:

    Wikileaks does not claim the right to kidnap, imprison, torture and kill anyone they want on a global basis like the US government does.

    It simply publishes information that criminal organizations with effective public relations departments (governments) do not want the public to know about.

    Wikileaks has every moral and ethical right to hide in whatever way possible from dangerous violent criminal organizations that have a brutal track record of theft, kidnap, imprisonment, torture and mass murder. (100,000 dead civilians in Iraq alone)

    Wikileaks cannot be transparent because if they do they will expose themselves to attack in the form of armed robbery, kidnap, imprisonment, torture and murder by people who call themselves “the government”. The government will refer to these crimes as “fines”, “arrest”,”extraordinary rendition “enhanced interrogation”, etc when they commit them.

    Wikileak’s tool belt consists of: encryption, anonymity, and widespread dissemination of information via the Internet.

    The governments tool belt consists of: aggressive organized violence, threats of violence, theft, secrecy, and a tidal wave of lies and propaganda which are eagerly distributed by an utterly spineless, lazy and corrupt corporate lapdog media.

  16. By Chris MacDonald on 11 December 2010

    I agree that any analogy between Wikileaks & national governments is a bit of a stretch.
    But I do think that it’s reasonable to want to ask Wikileaks (and any other NGO that receives donations) to provide at least *some* information about its finances, where the money goes, etc. The fact that Mastercard, Visa, etc bailed on them is only important if the flow of money is relatively large. And if lots of money is involved, donors (and *potential* donors) are justified in wanting at least a little translucency, if not transparency.

  17. By Seth on 11 December 2010

    Certainly there are some donors that would like to know how the money they send to Wikileaks is being spent. Perhaps it is possible to divulge some of this information without exposing Wikileaks to govt attacks, but I’m skeptical of that.

    Regardless, Wikileaks has no moral obligation whatsoever to divulge their financial dealings to dangerous violent criminal organizations with long standing and factually verifiable records of violence and theft. i.e just about every national government. They may be forced to do so from a practical standpoint in order to stave of being attacked with aggressive violence, however they would still have no MORAL reason to so.

    The only case in which Wikileaks would have a moral obligation share financial info with ANYBODY, would be if they agreed to do so to their donors, provided that both parties voluntarily agreed to this arrangement before a transaction took place.

    Nobody is being forced under threat of violence to contribute financially to Wikileaks, goddammit, NOBODY!! THAT is the real issue here.

    Just about everybody on this planet is forced under the threat of violence to contribute financially to a national government is some way, who will then use that money to commit all manner of aggressive crimes against individuals.

    Where’s the all bleating for financial transparency on behalf of governments? I don’t see it.

  18. By theleaksarereal on 12 December 2010

    I’m not trying to offend anyone with this comment, it is simply what I think.

    The leaks are real, the organization isn’t.

    The leaks are also highly selective.

    The behavior is that of an extortion racket – particularly in the case of the upcoming bank leak.

    After 30 years involved in politics I have learned not to trust ANY organization that takes ANY foundation funding at all.

    I find it disgusting that people imply John Young’s motives are not genuine. Assange implied that Young is senile – completely disgusting discourse.

    Assange praises a mass murderer like Benjamin Nethanyahu and then *just happens* to leave out all of the cables during the attacks on Lebanon and Gaza. The same Benjamin Nethnyahu that Assange *praises* in his Time Magazien interview.

    Please, please, don’t be a naive liberal like the naive liberal sheep I see around me everyday. Please.

  19. By theleaksarereal on 16 December 2010

    Thanks for letting me say something in opposition… just to add to what I said above…

    The New York Times has admitted that, in addition to redacting the leaks, they clear the publication of individual cables with the White House.

    That’s not a leak; that’s a propaganda campaign.

    Imagine if someone recorded every conversation at your school or place of work. Then they choose selective quotes to tell a story – any story they want… see what I mean? The quotes would be real (just like the leaks are) .. but the story wouldn’t!

  20. By Zelakon on 16 December 2010

    Any argument involving symmetrical transparency is so illogical that it would never even occur to me as being a plausible grounding for criticism.

    The three quotes you included – I mean, what? How can people be so educatedly stupid? Especially the middle one – that’s like trying to compare gold with wood because they both possess properties associated with solids.

  21. By Mike Gogulski on 16 December 2010

    @Zekalon: Agreed. But that’s John Young, who has an axe to grind with Assange.

  22. By theleaksarereal on 25 December 2010

    transparency is a two-way street. it protects the operation by keeping it essentially immune from extortion and other potentially compromising situations.

    personally, i think there’s plenty of information already available to arouse my suspicions:

    – funding from Soros-front foundations. This alone is a huge red flag waving in everyone’s faces.

    – origins of the organizations, namely “chinese dissidents” and “eastern europeans” … the targets being the same targets of interest to certain US TLAs.

    – weird IP origins as well, on the same netblock are … a certain TLA….

    – claiming Climategate was broken by the organization

    – claiming members of the organization have been assasinated

    – praise for bibi (huge wtf?)

    but the #1 huge big fat waving red fag:

    -fund were solicited in the name of defending bradley manning
    -not ONE PENNY has been forwarded to manning’s defense team
    -meanwhile, manning sits in the darkness of solitary for 23 hours per day and is being forcibly drugged – while having been convicted of no crime – at the very same time assange is sitting on his money and enjoying the spoils of fame having psycho leftist swedish women throw themselves at him…

    i’m sorry, but, as much as i myself would like to believe the hero-myth, the very best thing assange could be is a hapless dupe. at worst he’s a willing participant in a fraud. in either case, he’ll be throw to the wolves.

  23. By Ronius on 15 March 2011

    As much as I support everything WikiLeaks is doing, I felt it’d be worth adding a couple of comments of my own after stumbling across this article.

    What originally drew me to wikileaks was the wiki foundation of it; that, in theory, it was a database of leaks anyone could access. In recent months this seems to no longer be the case, and if anything the home page is starting to look more like a politicians website than a revolution in the information economy.

    As well intentioned as they may be, I feel they are essentially run as a benevolent dictatorship at the moment, with its leader in Julian Assange- who I am growing to hate because of his big headedness. I can understand the reasons for the secrecy when dealing with documents which in their very nature are secret. Although projects such as OpenLeaks seem to have much more promise for me; as they deal solely with the drop box infrastructure rather than trying to become a journalistic tool in itself.

    @memefilter I don’t really agree with your comments on if the public don’t need to know how something works, then there’s no reason they should know. I’m sure the leadership of The Democratic Peoples Replublic of (North) Korea agree with you however!! Plus the information on the inner workings of a computer are relatively open, but that is not the point.

    Finally, I get hugely annoyed when people start saying how great an organisation is because it is not for profit and run by volunteers. It doesn’t make any organisation whiter than white. If anything, charities can be just as ruthless as any other corporation when competing for capital. Having worked for a number of them both as employees and doing freelance work, I get hugely pissed off when people sing the praises of their people without being critical of itself. If these guys can’t keep looking at themselves and seeing how they can improve, as well as being open within themselves if not with outside bodies, then they may as well not bother. As we will end up before long with yet another information monarchy rather than information revolution!!


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