wikileaks: roundup

I’m going to be on sabbatical for the first week or so of January, without even Internet access *shudder*. So my Wikileaks updates will taper off for now. I’ve got posts in the hopper, but clearly not of the news-at-the-moment. I hope the start of the new year treats all of you well!

By way of correcting myself — I’ve described Manning as being held without charges, but in actually he has been… in connection with only about 50 of the leaks! Wikileaks Leaker Bradley Manning Finally Charged

The government has finally charged Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks leaker. He is charged with two counts of violating the UCMJ, one related to loading onto his own unsecure computer a set of information and adding unauthorized software to a military network computer, and the other related to accessing and passing information onto someone not entitled to have it.

Given Manning’s treatement and the general apoplexy of the government and so on, the narrow scope of these charges astonishes me.

FDL has complete transcripts up at their site now: FDL Manning-Lamo-Wikileaks Interview Transcripts Page Up Now. They accomplished this by crowdsourcing it out to their readers, and I want to send big kudos their way for going to the trouble of making these interviews and such accessible to all of us. This, plus their Key Wikileaks-Manning Articles sortable timeline, makes a great resource for all of us interested in the Wikileaks saga.

CNN has collected the revelations afforded by the 2K or so published leaks so far: How WikiLeaks Enlightened Us in 2010. I am studiously ignoring their use of “more impactful” …

Update from Manning’s lawyer: Pretrial Confinement Review. He explains what the process is, and why they have to wait on certain agencies first and so on. I’m not at all familiar with Military Code, so to me this is very interesting on a legal level besides the information on Manning.

Cockburn lauds the Wikileaks effort (and effects): Honor the WikiLeakers. (Predictably, the right wing isn’t so happy.)

I thought this was interesting: WikiLeaks no favor to historians.

Normally, historians can take a long-lens view of history, while they rely on political scientists interested in explanatory and predictive theory and on investigative journalists to record the present. But in the post-WikiLeaks era they will need to interview political actors in real time themselves and to pay close attention to events as they unfold.

Determining what was going on beneath those events could get increasingly tricky. The transfer of correspondence and documents has held a trusted place in relations among nations throughout world history. Cables and memos recording the observations and analyses of statesmen, intelligence officials and other government officials have been written with the understanding that they would remain confidential for many years.

However, now we can expect leaders of all stripes to be more guarded in their exchanges with one another, particularly in the presence of their deputies and note takers.

I can’t help but think that the study of history has already had to adapt in its studies of different periods of history that were far differently documented than they have been in the last few hundred years. And the study of history has evolved over the past hundred years or so as technology has — I can most certainly envision an historian of the future being an expert in various forms of cryptography in use at different times in history, just as they are now often experts in obscure languages of the past. As technology shifts, so do the responses to it. Make a better gun, someone will improve the bullet proof vest, someone then improves the gun and so on it goes. No reason history doesn’t have its own ouroboros in this vein.

In Half-formed thought on Wikileaks & Global Action the author makes the observation that what makes Wikileaks so different is its truly global nature. I don’t think there’s anything particularly new in that thought, per se, but he marshals together quite a few observations: the ways in which the Pentagon Papers are similar but quite different:

Ellsberg, Abrams, the NY Times, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, the protesting citizens, and so on. No one was out of the reach of the Federal Government, and the effect of the Papers’ publication, in a US new outlet, was a family affair.

Wikileaks has been global from the beginning, and the additional complexity of both jurisdiction and extradition make this particular problem much much more complex than any issues, legal or practical, triggered by the Pentagon Papers. Wikileaks has been operating since 2006, the military has regarded it as a significant threat since at least 2008, and the US Attorney General still has difficulty framing charges he thinks he can win.

This sets the stage for the next interesting point he makes:

A publisher is (or was, in 1971) a commercial, nationally-rooted media firm subject to significant tradeoffs between scale and partisanship. Large publishers had to be deeply embedded in the culture they operated in, and they had to reflect local mainstream views on most matters most of the time, to find and retain both revenue and audience. Fans of game theory will recognize these conditions as those required for an iterated game of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, where the press exhibits self-restraint from short term defection against the US’s interests, in order to benefit from an amicable relationship with the government over the long haul.

This is why the difference between the Times, as an international actor, and Wikileaks, as a global one, matters so much. Wikileaks does not have to play an iterated game of Prisoner’s Dilemma with the US. Not only is Wikileaks not housed in the US, it isn’t housed in any single other nation the US could complain to. They can defect at will. (You can always burn a partner in Prisoner’s Dilemma if they can’t get back at you.) Wikileaks hasn’t defected all the way, of course, releasing only ~2000 of the ~250,000 cables they have; the point is that this restraint is not forced on them by the US.

The legal bargain from 1971 simply does not and cannot produce the outcome it used to. This is one of the things freaking people in the US government out — not that the law has changed, but that the world has […]

Yes. Oh yes. The comments in this article seem to be worth reading as well — this comment for example pulls in the historical context of what the “press” was at the time the U.S. was formed and suggests that some far earlier cases might have more relevance to this one than a 1971 ruling over a national corporation. Lots of food for thought here. (But bonus points for pulling in the Prisoner’s dilemma!)

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