"Totally coup, yo."

Pro-Wikileaks = Pro-death?

Dec

11

by
BY JOSH BUNTING

I’m definitely pro-WikiLeaks, as anyone who’s read what I’ve written on the subject would definitely know. But like any other issue, it’s not entirely black and white. And since I already know I’m biased in one direction, I’m definitely at risk for ignoring information which doesn’t fit with said bias. So in order to try to correct that, here are some recent reports which might make one think twice before unconditionally supporting WL:

assange-title-1
The next Hitler?


  1. ARS Technica: Some former WikiLeaks workers are starting up an alternative whistleblowing website called OpenLeaks. Their chief complaints seem to be that WL has become too America-centric and politically ideological, and that it relies too much on one person – presumably Julian Assange – instead of operating more democratically.
    ***
  2. The Guardian: In an interview, Julian Assange claimed that a leak involving corruption in Kenyan politics led to the death of 1,300 people and the displacement of 350,000. The context was the tough moral questions the organization faces in dealing with such sensitive information. Assange referred to it as a “chilling statistic.”
    ******
  3. Threat Level: WikiLeaks had pledged to assist in the defense fund of Pfc. Bradley Manning who’s been accused of leaking the Afghan War Diaries months ago, but has not yet made good on that pledge. WL spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson claims the payment is currently being processed.
    ***
  4. Threat Level: The Wired blog is reporting based on an anonymous source that the organization is now “in chaos” and that “the organization will most likely start to fall apart now.” Time Magazine, however, disagrees.
    ***
  5. Reporters Without Borders: The free press advocacy group tries to convince Assange that WL is setting a bad precedent for free speech on the internet.

***
Despite all this, I’m still definitely on WL’s side. It’s not reasonable to expect every single thing an organization does to be either completely good or completely evil. There’s always going to be nuances when it comes to these really big issues like war and the law and the conflict between transparency and secrecy. But at the same time it’s important to keep all this in perspective.

___

This post originally appeared on Bunting’s blog: Nanobotswillenslaveusall

UPDATE: WikiLeaks has transferred $15,000 to Bradley Manning’s defense fund as of January 13, 2011.

  • http://www.richtapestries.co.uk/fox-hunting-prints.htm fox hunting prints

    It appears as though Julian Assange will at least be out on bail very soon but what about Bradley Manning? Solitary confinement for 7 months so far without being convicted of anything, without a trial, even. That’s wrong!

  • lcl

    Not saying I have insider knowledge, but all your caveats here strike me as bullshit (no offense).

    1) The OpenLeaks thing, I wish them the best, but that Schmitt guy behind it claimed that now he should recieve donations meant for Wikileaks and that he would try to “hold on” to any leaked documents he can rather than allowing Wikileaks to publish them.

    His wife is Microsoft’s government relations manager for Germany, and he says he plans to work with “Reporters Without Borders” among others in the future… After claiming to speak for Wikileaks’ German NGO backer, the Wau Holland foundation, the foundation stepped in to say he doesn’t speak for them and that they continue to support Wikileaks.

    2) Reporters Without Borders: (a group that has nothing in common with Doctors Without Borders, just as the Cuban/CIA group “Ladies in White” copied the style and tactics of the very different “Mothers In White” from Argentina) had previously “blasted” Wikileaks for it’s “incredible irresponsibility” in publishing US war documents.

    Reporters Without Borders is relatively well established as a CIA front group, opposing the socialist government of Cuba and left-wing groups in Latin America more generally.

    3) As for Africa, WL leaked documents are thought by many in Kenya to have led to the electoral defeat of the seriously corrupt prior regime, who siphoned hundreds of millions away from Kenyan’s public health system etc. WL also uncovered reports of hundreds of police killings, and for all this was given Amnesty Intl.’s annual media award.

    They’ve also uncovered many more injustices in Africa, such as toxic waste dumping by first world companies. corrupt arms deals, etc.

    The fact that Assange is wrestling with the potential downsides to leaks shows me that he is not (at least in his professional life) the “ego-maniac” that the media is painting.

    4) Wired is the media outlet that OUTED Bradley Manning. Why would you believe what they have to say about Wikileaks?

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    Hey lcl:

    1. If the stealing donations thing is true, then that’s clearly wrong. I would need more than guilt by association to condemn them before they’ve even really done anything though. It’s probably better to just see what they come up with and then go from there.

    2. Reporters Without Borders goes after governments which interfere with freedom of the press – which definitely includes Latin American socialist governments as well as others all over the world. Whatever else he might be right about, when Hugo Chavez says that he wants to limit free speech on the internet, that’s bullshit.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62D05I20100314
    and RSF is right to condemn him for it
    http://en.rsf.org/venezuela-false-posts-cannot-be-used-to-15-03-2010,36737
    I don’t think they’re on the right side with WL (as I mentioned in the article, I’m definitely pro-WL), but it’s important to note that an org like RSF is taking another position on it.

    3. I pretty much agree w/ your comments here, don’t see how any of it contradicts.

    4. Adrian Lamo outed Bradley Manning TO Wired. And it looks like they reported accurately on that matter. How does that compromise their credibility? If it turns out that Manning was innocent, despite all the evidence, then that would call into question their reporting. But it just doesn’t look like that’s the case.

  • lcl
    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      Yeah, I don’t know about that. Murphy chose that, but he can photoshop and if he wanted to make Assange look gayer, I’m sure he could have.

  • admin

    That’s not a picture of Assange; it’s Martha Stewart.

  • lcl

    OK, fair enough, Wired was just the messenger. But the very weird guy Lamo uses Wired reporter Poulsen as his “media spokesperson,” and apparently shared his chat logs with Manning with Wired that were then highly redacted. As Glenn Greenwald brings up there is some weird shit going down as to why Manning really told that Lamo guy what he is alleged to have said:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/18/wikileaks

    Reporters Without Borders, while it may do some good work, is highly financially connected to the CIA. Let me give you just a brief overview:

    They were given an ongoing grant of $50,000 a year by Otto Reich, who was head of the “Office of Public Diplomacy” in the 80′s, a govt. PR operation designed to propagandize the US population (illegaly and deceiftfully, according to our own GAO) and responsible for, among many other high points, attacking “anti-Contra” US reporters with the smear that they had been paid off in sex by “Sandinista prostitutes,” I’m not even kidding. And that yearly grant is just a small example of US govt. support for Reporters Without Borders, with much larger funding coming from the NED, International Republican Institute, USAID, Center for a Free Cuba, and “private” groups of Cuban/Latin right-wing immigrants who themselves have a long history of CIA funding.

    Their attacks on lack of press freedoms in US enemy countries always far surpass the attacks on censorship and journalist harassment in US allied countries, Pakistan being one example that comes to mind. (They rank countries on press freedom, so such hypocrisies are easy to ascertain.)

    In Venezuela, nearly all media is owned by a few oligarchs who actively participated in overthrowing the govt a few years ago. Whereas these crimes would be punishable by dungeon in the US, they were not punished aside for a few content restrictions (no sex or violence until after 10 or whatever).

    I have my problems with the Chavez govt too (long story short, I don’t think they’re socialist), but they’re backing a lot of grass roots media initiatives, like Telesur, that are free to contradict the govt. It’s so much more complicated than astroturfers like RSF contend.

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      OK, I still don’t see why Wired’s credibility should be questioned here. They’re not a political advocacy group. They do journalism. They got a good scoop. It looks like what they reported was accurate. So that’s why I trust what they have to say. And if you listen to Greenwald’s interview w/ Lamo, you’d see that his relationship w/ Poulsen isn’t exactly what you’re implying.

      The RSF thing is basically an ad hom attack, so that’s pretty easily dismissed. And if you just do a quick google search for Reporters Without Borders Pakistan you’ll find plenty of their statements condemning a crackdown on freedom of the press just as they do in Venezuela, etc.

      About Kenya, “Wikileaks isn’t “responsible” for those who died ” – I do not know who you’re quoting there. All I did was paraphrase what Assange said himself, and then give the context.

  • lcl

    Oh and about Africa, I just wanted to give some context. Wikileaks isn’t “responsible” for those who died in Kenya’s post-election violence… the same people who supported the corrupt previous govt were the main actors.

    WL helped bring about a transition to greater democracy. Or should we personally blame Jefferson and Paine for every death during the Revolutionary War?

  • lcl

    Reporters Without Borders Blasts Wikileaks
    http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/40973/
    “Says Wikileaks endangered ‘future of the Internet as an information medium…”

    So you still think RSF is about supporting a free press and I’m just using and ad hominem attack? Quoting their own words here.

  • lcl

    Just to pre-empt what may be your next comment, even the Pentagon admits that it doesn’t believe anyone has been physically harmed because of the leaks AND Wikileaks asked the Pentagon for help redacting and the Pentagon refused.

    That is very public information, but RSF still chooses to side with our govt. on the most crucial press freedom issue to have arisen during my lifetime.

    ps – hope I don’t sound like an asshole, it’s just that this is the kind of conversation people should be having about WL.

  • lcl

    My contention about Wired is that they likely know some sinister details they chose to keep hidden. I may be wrong, it’s just conjecture.

    Last point:

    ‘About Kenya, “Wikileaks isn’t “responsible” for those who died ” – I do not know who you’re quoting there. ‘

    Your title is “Pro-Wikileaks = Pro-Death?”

    I am quoting your title, or more specifically the implication of it.

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      Unless you have some evidence to support your claim about Wired, there’s no reason to take your conjecture seriously. It, like most of what you’re pushing here, seems to be nothing but an ideologically motivated kneejerk reaction, which is kind of what I was attacking here in the first place.

      If you’re referring to “my” title, you should probably also include the ? in your referring to the implication of it. Or I guess you can ignore that since it doesn’t fit with your preconceived beliefs. And also it’s not even my title. You can see that in the original blog post here:
      http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/some-stuff-that-makes-wikileaks-look-bad/

      I’ve actually covered what you tried to pre-empt in earlier posts. You’re not quite right – the Pentagon cooperated with redacting some parts of the Afghan War Diaries with proxies (NY Times, WaPo) but the State Department refused doing the same inre: “cablegate.”

      http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2010/11/wikileaks-and-state-department-correspondence/

      This is all separate from the Kenya issue, which was specifically quoting Assange himself in the Guardian. It’s kind of funny that you seem to be saying that we should take the Pentagon at their word when they say that there haven’t been any deaths as a result of WL but ignore Assange when he contradicts them.

      Your claims about RSF being a CIA conspiracy doesn’t really add up or even matter. For one thing, your claim about them ignoring free press issues in “friendly” countries turned out to be completely wrong, even in the one example you gave, i.e. Pakistan. And even if it were, it’s still just an ad hom attack where you concentrate on the org making the claim instead of the claim itself, which you haven’t addressed at all. I’m not a big fan of that kind of McCarthyite approach. Yes, you can quote their own words, but the thing is that I had already done that in the above article. That was my point, that RSF had a counterargument focusing on legal precedent. Maybe you don’t like that argument, but calling them a conspiracy does nothing to refute it.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    Hey, does this mean that WL is part of a CIA plot?
    http://en.rsf.org/wikileaks.html

  • lcl

    I don’t want to cloud the issue of support for Wikileaks, which it sounds like we’re both behind.

    I’m deeply concerned about the “conspiracy theory” slur that many progressive people feel comfortable using to dismiss a lot of what is in fact the way the world of the powerful operates.

    Let’s be clear, I never said that RSF never comments about press freedom in countries allied to the US, I said that they RANK all countries, and that this format allows for easy comparison of their bias.
    http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2009,1001.html

    Of course most of what’s there checks with what the rest of the world reports. It would be dismissed out of hand if it didn’t. However, let’s take the states that provide the biggest ideological challenges to the US global agenda right now. Let me just bring up 2: Venezuela and Bolivia.

    Venezuela is placed at the very bottom of the non-Muslim, somewhat industrialized states, although journalists are not routinely murdered or imprisoned there. Well above it we have US allies like Indonesia, where state murder of journalists is still a serious and ongoing problem, treated with complete impunity. Above them we have the major (non-Saudi) gulf states, with their fundamentalist monarchs, and also far above is El Salvador, where, thankfully the state no longer is in the journalist murdering business, but paramilitaries certainly are, having claimed over a dozen journalists lives in the last few years at least.

    Okay, so what if you really hate Venezuela too… why is BOLIVIA so low on the list? I’ve heard no serious accusations, even from haters of Morales and his MAS, of government harassment of opposition journalists… the claim simply doesn’t hold up.

    Okay, maybe it’s all just a matter of opinion.

    It’s quite ironic you bring up “McCarthyism” though… it’s beyond established that the CIA constantly played puppeteer with US and even world culture, buying up academic departments, publishers, editors, reporters, even producing Hollywood films. Of course suspecting this was “knee-jerk leftist paranoia,” or even “Soviet propaganda,” and now it’s mostly disclassified plain to see.

    NGO’s in particular were and are at the center of plans for CIA funding and manipulation.

    MAYBE I’m wrong and RSF just sympathizes with a lot of US foreign policy. Maybe Wired sympathizes with Manning but still decided to obscure details regarding his alleged confession to Lamo.

    But questioning the facts and proceeding with caution certainly isn’t the “knee-jerk reaction” when at this very moment apologists for power are looking for any possible crack in the somewhat obviously heroic image of Wikileaks to damper public sympathy for them to prepare for the legal/extralegal assault they’re preparing to mount against the group and leakers in general.

    And someone has to take responsibility for the title. It’s about as subtle as prank call from Dick Cheney.

    cheers

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      I don’t think you get the point of why ad hom attacks are stupid. You have been – and continue to – only focus on the organization making the claim instead of the claim itself. How they rank countries inre: freedom of the press and how you don’t like the order they use doesn’t have shit to do with what they said about WikiLeaks. Even if you had some evidence to support your belief about RSF being a CIA conspiracy, you would still need to address their initial arguments on their own merits, not just because they’re communists. I mean, a CIA plot.

      I don’t see why it should be necessary for Wired to be sympathetic towards either Manning or the government. They’re a news organization. They got a good scoop. So they published it. And if “obscuring details” and redacting info necessarily implies some shady dealings due to some political agenda, then pretty much every news organization that’s ever uncovered criminal activity would be guilty of that. Even the Afghan War Diaries were redacted. Does that mean that WL, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc. are on the side of the US government? Of course not. It just means that most newspapers would rather err on the side of caution when dealing with such sensitive material.

      And I’m still wondering how your conspiracy beliefs (I wouldn’t call it a theory) tie in with how RSF is now mirroring WL. Oh, and they have a website devoted to how they support WL. Doesn’t that cause any cognitive dissonance for you?

      Kneejerk reaction is a perfect description for how you’re reacting. It’s not based on any facts or evidence, just McCarthyite smears, guilt by association, innuendo, political ideology, and conspiracy beliefs.

  • lcl

    Of course good journalists are “neutral” (today I should probably say “moderate”) and are excused from having to answer basic moral questions about whiste-blowers who expose massive wrong-doing : P

    Fair enough let’s just focus on the claim and not the organization. If I understand you mean RSF’s claims from your link.

    Here we go… they dismiss WL’s goal of helping to end the war in Afghanistan since ” the US government has been under significant pressure for some time as regards the advisability of its military presence in Afghanistan, not just since your article’s publication. ”

    Okay, nonsense.

    “You have unintentionally provided supposedly democratic governments with good grounds for putting the Internet under closer surveillance.”

    Here’s the “meat” of their stance, and guess what? It’s the EXACT same thing that’s been levelled at radical activists since the “divide and conquer” strategy first coalesced, I’m sure all the way back to ancient civilizations.

    “Now we the high priests are doing are best to moderate the emperor’s new ‘cut the heads off all peasant virgins’ policy, but you over-zealous rabble-rousers are going to make things worse for everyone by causing the emperor to over-react and clamp down more on responsible dissenters like us.”

    OKay, a bit of literary/historical license there. Look at something real and closer to home, the advice of many liberal pastors and groups to MLK that he avoid confronting segregation directly, because it would provoke over-reaction by segregationists, which in some cases it certainly did, and in some ways that was a big part of MLK’s plan.

    Wikileaks also has provocation of over-reaction in at least part of it’s plans (Assange explained choosing Amazon services for that reason), and one can argue how much they’re just making it up as they go along and using trial-and-error, but probably MLK was doing a lot of that too.

    The biggest response to what they’re saying though (that the publishing was “indiscriminate,” even though they admit WL held back thousands of sensitive documents) is that WL has vastly rennovated it’s leaking procedures following the Afghan diaries, redacting nearly all identification info and in the case of the cables, publishing only a few, often redacted, reports at a time.

    So how is it you feel RSF still had a valid point?

    Let’s forget all the allegations of who is financially compromised if you prefer. I agree that being ideologically compromised is a far bigger issue (though less comment provoking apparently) than who is getting dirty money.

    ps – About my conspiracy “beliefs” (how generous), it’s obvious you don’t have an f-ing clue what I’m talking about. But please let it be clear I never implied that morally / financially / ideologically compromised people at the top or in the middle of organization mean no one in the group, or even the most cynical in it can’t do anything good or believe anything worthwhile.

    I’m not one of those people who oppose all USAID projects, for example, even though I know USAID is politically motivated and their projects often harm the poor.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    “Of course good journalists are “neutral” (today I should probably say “moderate”) and are excused from having to answer basic moral questions about whiste-blowers who expose massive wrong-doing : P”

    Yes, that’s right. I guess the alternative would be to force them to be political advocacy groups and not the news media – as long as they’re the kind of political advocacy groups you happen to like.

    “Okay, nonsense.”

    Wow, what substance. Can’t argue with that.

    Here’s the “meat” of their stance, and guess what? It’s the EXACT same thing that’s been levelled at radical activists since the “divide and conquer” strategy first coalesced, I’m sure all the way back to ancient civilizations.

    That’s another ad hom attack. You’re STILL not addressing their claim, just on who happens to be making it. So what if it’s been used historically against other groups? That doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not it’s correct. The only difference between this and the nonsense you were spewing earlier is that you’re comparing it to other mysteriously unnamed examples in history.

    Let’s see, Julian Assange is Martin Luther King… Well, that’s not just a hyperbolic emotional appeal or anything. Not at all.

    Basically, there are two much simpler explanations which are far more likely to be true than your conspiracy beliefs about RSF. 1. They know more about freedom of the press than you do since that’s the reason they exist (this is probably the case), or 2. They’re mistaken. Neither of those explanations require adding some government conspiracy, which wouldn’t even be consistent with the facts of the matter anyway as I’ve already pointed out.

    If I don’t know what you’re talking about inre: your conspiracy beliefs, then that’s your fault since you failed to communicate them accurately. By that I’m referring to your claims that RSF is a CIA plot (even though they support WL and are mirroring their site right now as I type this), and that Wired is political and are hiding info in some nefarious way. That’s what I mean by your conspiracy beliefs. There’s no evidence to support those claims, which is why I’d hesitate to call it a theory. That would be giving your beliefs way too much credit.

    You still haven’t answered how RSF supporting and mirroring WL affects your conspiracy ideas. Doesn’t that cause any cognitive dissonance for you? Or does it just prove how sneaky the conspiracy really is?

  • lcl

    I like this site so I’m sorry to say that your reasoning is flawed to hell and each of us apparently think that the other is not responding to the main content of what the other is saying.

    I’m not gonna get through to you, oh well. For any readers who are curious, the Wired scenario deepens:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/27/wired?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+salon/greenwald+(Glenn+Greenwald)

    Let me just end with this:
    Questioning why people report what they do and don’t report what they don’t, looking for influences on their journalism from sources of power, especially in the most interesting real news story since 9/11… should not be confused with people who think there were no planes in 9/11/controlled demolition/x-files whatever justifies being smeared as “wacky conspiracy theory” in the mind of most objective observers.

    And I love how I’m Mr. Ad-Hominem when I’m not the one who called bunting a “knee jerk mccarthyite.”

    Happy Holidays to readers, especially those who agree with me, because I apparently hate everyone else.

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      You can say that my reasoning is flawed all you want, but you haven’t actually pointed out any flaws so far.
      I don’t know who you think was comparing you to a troofer for questioning things or calling your beliefs a theory. I was making fun of you because you believed things without any evidence. That’s a different thing from questioning. Lots of conspiracy people like to back off in the way that you just did. I find it amusing. First it’s OMG THE CIA CONTROLS RSF and then it’s OH NO I WAS JUST ASKING QUESTIONS. You don’t get to have it both ways.
      You are using ad hom attacks and kneejerk McCarthyite reactions. Pointing that out is not itself an ad hom attack because it directly addresses your arguments, not you personally. Here’s an example of an ad hom attack: You’re an idiot.
      Too bad about you hating everyone who disagrees with you. Try growing up or something.

      • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

        Don’t know what happened to your pending comment. I approved it right before hitting reply. It’s probably not a CIA conspiracy though.

  • lcl

    On the off chance that you really want me to answer the questions you posed me:

    “I guess the alternative would be to force them to be political advocacy groups and not the news media…”

    The “wacky thesis” (maybe not even a theory?) of Chomsky, Zinn, et al is that they are in fact political advocacy groups, and if you think they aren’t (or can be otherwise) then you are brainwashed.

    My claim that RSF’s claim that WL trying to end the war is invalid because other people have tried and failed… that that’s nonsense. Perhaps you would care to elaborate on why that’s a sensible claim from them then?

    I’m pointing out that saying “you shouldn’t use this type of confrontational activist tactic because it will cause greater repression” has a long history of misuse. There are times when it could’ve carried weight… like maybe the Guatemalan rebels should have held back on some actions that provided the govt. with more excuse to wipe out the populations of large areas. The proportion of valid times the warning has been raised vs. total times seems quite small in historical hindsight, and if it had been readily heeded then most progress, from abolition to civil rights to colonial independence to votes for women to so many other things… would not have happened at least anywhere near as soon.

    In this case in particular I think the claim is invalid, and in general I think the burden is on people who make it (RSF and apparently you) to try and justify it. That’s not an ad hominem attack, but I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear to you what I was suggesting.

    I am a serious student of the real MLK, as in taking him at his own words. Fair enough he is the most co-opted person in modern history… not many people have a pretty strong case of being assassinated by the govt (“the most dangerous man in America”) and then soon after get a national holiday without the govt’s potential involvement being scrutinized, but I’m sure going down that road any further would fall into some logical fallacy category that would raise all kinds of red flags for you…

    Suffice to say I see MLK’s mostly successful approach to activist tactics as being a gold standard and therefore comparing Assange’s or anyone’s methods to his in terms of things like “strategic confrontation” is second nature to me. But then again I’m one of apparently few people on the internet who thinks that comparing certain situations to elements of the most significant/dangerous movement of the last century (German “national socialism”) is sometimes permissible and not immediately discredited for violating “Godwin’s Law.”

    “Basically, there are two much simpler explanations which are far more likely to be true than your conspiracy beliefs about RSF. 1. They know more about freedom of the press than you do since that’s the reason they exist (this is probably the case), or 2. They’re mistaken.”

    I’m SURE “they” (collectively) know MORE than me in terms of details, that’s their full-time job. I’m saying that certain people in leadership roles of RSF have ideological bias against explicitly “socialist” third world govts, an ideology they share and I believe derive from US govt propaganda more than real facts. If they knew so much more than me why journalists in Bolivia are in more danger than journalists in UAE (where I just by chance happen to know someone who was threatened with arrest for blogging about beach pollution, true story) then it would behoove them to publish that. Guess what, to use the “simpler explanation” heuristic you like, sure seems like they are bull-shitting the world there, something I don’t have a lot of patience for. Doesn’t mean they do or say NOTHING of value, or even that the majority of what they do isn’t great. (Their main focus has been further blacklisting blockaded Cuba though, so I’m not sure if I’d go that far.)

    Sure they could just be mistaken, even though it’s their job to investigate the facts, they COULD just be mistaken in the exact direction of the people who heavily finance them and who share their goals re destabilization of Cuba, i.e. the intelligence/diplomacy/exile complex. Mighty coincidental, but I definitely give that possibility a lot more fair consideration than you give mine, which I honestly think you don’t understand and don’t want to try to understand because (I’ll go out on a limb) it might push you to have to consider a lot of other things you’ve placed “off limits,” both true and false things, and push you to have to distinguish them, which isn’t so straight-forward for anyone. (If that’s not your motivation, fine, but I’ve seen that at work with many smart people before.)

    Please allow greater spectrum between “RSF is a CIA plot” and “RSF is an objective and trust-worthy NGO whose criticisms of WL should be taken only at face value.”

    Why is RSF now defending WL? Either some people there feel closer to how I do about it than the people who originally “blasted it,” or someone had a change of heart but refuses to backtrack, or they see it as inevitable to take this stance given their purported mission, but will continue to keep sniping away at WL with other bullshit accusations as the chance arises, i.e. the claim that revealing continuous US foreign policy establishment contempt for democracy will somehow diplomacy (and therefore WORLD PEACE!) more difficult.

    Or maybe they just don’t read enough Glenn Greenwald so their original charge made sense to them in spite of good intentions : P

    “There’s no evidence to support those claims…”

    There IS evidence to support ALL KINDS of claims, including ones that we’d both agree are preposterous. The fact that you can make such a statement like this makes me seriously question any dismissal you make.

    Okay, I made a real response, ball’s in your court.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    I don’t know who you’re quoting with “wacky thesis” but hiding behind Zinn and Chomsky won’t help you here. That’s just an argument from authority and doesn’t even line up with what I’ve read of Chomsky on the subject of the media. I haven’t read any Zinn on the media, just his historical stuff. But Chomsky’s claims about the media were that the anti-left bias in the media is an unconscious product of the institutions’ business model and not of political advocacy.

    Just saying “that’s nonsense” isn’t really a response. So even though I don’t agree with RSF’s point, as I’ve said, it’s a valid one and should be part of the discourse on WL.

    Yeah, insinuating that MLK was killed by the government definitely raises red flags for me. If nothing else, it invalidates your claim of being serious.

    Do yourself a favor and look up the actual text of Godwin’s Law.

    What evidence do you have of certain leaders in RSF having an ideological bias against third world socialist countries? I know you don’t like how they attack them, but nothing you’ve brought up so far couldn’t be explained by either of the two scenarios I’ve suggested, i.e. that they know more than you or that they’re simply mistaken. Who are you talking about when you say “certain people in leadership roles?” And what evidence do you have for this alleged ideological bias?

    “RSF is an objective and trust-worthy NGO whose criticisms of WL should be taken only at face value.” – WHO ARE YOU QUOTING? Definitely not me.

    Do you seriously not realize that your conspiracy beliefs about RSF don’t account for them supporting WL? You really have to do some weird mental gymnastics in order to reconcile your beliefs with the facts. If they’ve had a “change of heart” then apparently the CIA has lost control over their little conspiracy here and the beliefs you earlier claimed to hold would have to be discarded by any intellectually honest person.

    Maybe there is evidence to support your beliefs, but so far you’ve failed to present any at all. So if you want me to stop laughing at you, go ahead and show some. That or just keep ranting nonsense. “Real response,” lol.

  • lcl

    Just curious, do you teach school kids? Because usually, between two adults, you have to deal with the issues expressed even if you don’t like the form it came in.

    “Argument from authority”… let’s see:

    Yes, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn believe that news media expresses a political bias by it’s very nature. Zinn called his autobiography “you can’t stay neutral on a moving train.” Chomsky’s propaganda model showed how the ideology of the “objective journalist” is a devastating filter that, together with factors like corporate ownership / profit from advertising / access to sources (etc), keeps people informed and dumb, to put it mildly.

    “So even though I don’t agree with RSF’s point, as I’ve said, it’s a valid one…”

    Valid because? It’s a smear against people invovled in trying to stop one of the greatest injustices of our time and it’s illogical. If by valid you mean they have a right to say it in a free society then fine. If by valid you mean something more than that, something above nonsense, then please call it out. I thought “nonsense” was actually pretty charitable for that assertion.

    How “unserious” for me to claim that MLK might have been killed by the govt. Actually, how VERY unserious of a US jury to have found that the US govt was likely involved in the murder of MLK in a 1999 civil trial. (How unserious of King’s family to also believe that.)

    Or that they hired prostitutes to record his liasons with them and incriminate him. Oh wait, that parts been declassifed already, time to rearrange the “Serious-o-meter”.

    ONE TIP: Read “An Act of State,” by MLK friend and lawyer William Pepper. I challenge ANYBODY to finish that book and still not take allegations of the govt’s involvement seriously (not the same as being “sure” about the assassination, which Bunting somehow manages to be).

    I know the text of Godwin’s Law but as cited in online discussion it tends to be to immediately discredit anyone who compares anything else to elements of Nazism. Granted, with people putting swasitakas on Obama’s portrait and so on, it’s tempting to just leave that mental filter up, but I think it would be unwise to do so. Sorry if that was too off-topic.

    Moving on.

    “What evidence do you have of certain leaders in RSF having an ideological bias against third world socialist countries?”

    How about THEIR OWN PRESS FREEDOM SCALE. The funding sources would help establish motive, but none of that needs to be conclusively analyzed if you just look at some of the proclamations they’ve made about the world.

    I’m somewhat astounded that you don’t think this is a possibility. Do you think it’s not theoretically possible for any such NGO or it’s just RSF you can’t buy it for? (And of course I could be wrong about RSF. For example, I belive you’re also giving a kind of cover to govt ideology and of course I don’t believe you’re in on some kind of direct conspiracy… though if you are please consider cutting me a check.)

    “‘RSF is an objective and trust-worthy NGO whose criticisms of WL should be taken only at face value.’ – WHO ARE YOU QUOTING? Definitely not me.”

    So you feel that RSF is not objective or trust-worthy, or you are agnostic about that or you don’t care about that? There are only a few positions and I think most readers would feel you believe what I stated there based on your previous statements.

    “Do you seriously not realize that your conspiracy beliefs about RSF don’t account for them supporting WL? You really have to do some weird mental gymnastics in order to reconcile your beliefs with the facts.”

    Accepting that there are many people involved in most institutions with possibily conflicting motives (even within a given individual) is the kind of “mental gymnastics” that I belive falls into the realm of common sense. I also think that “W” had some noble motives mixed in with all his devil-work and, like pretty much everyone, he was happy to score points for nobility when it conflicted with absolutely nothing from his selfish/ideological agendas: i.e. raising funding a bit for AIDS in Africa.

    Allow me to suggest that you have a very Hollywood view of conspiracy. It’s quite open and day-to-day business for the security establishment to pay off NGOs that support their elitist and anti-progressive ideology. The NED and IRI are just two that come to mind as, for example, purporting to support democracy but actually having supported coups, death squads and the like. Even former members have gone on record about this so… have I entered pariah territory with this angle yet or am I still admissible at the dinner table of seriousness on this one so far?

    And if you do allow for that with those groups, how is RSF a sacred cow? You do know there are other groups who do excellent and totally unimpeachable work on press freedoms, right? I’m happy to suggest a few if that would ease your conscience about being more skeptical of RSF.

    I’m glad you can laugh at me. I can’t laugh at you because you and everyone like you really depresses me.

    I’ve tried to return your volleys, so now I’m going to post a list of points I made to you that you haven’t seen fit to respond to yet…

  • lcl

    Or let’s just focus it on one point…

    You have NEVER addressed the issue of RSF recieving significant financial support from the Otto Reichs of the US govt (i.e. under management of people responsible for constant press manipulation in the 80′s at least).

    Or their financial support from the NED, IRI, USAID, Center for a Free Cuba etc. These groups have funded the paramilitary groups that overthrew elected leaders like Aristide, Zelaya, and Chavez (temporarily). They have backed, financially and diplomatically, confessed terrorist bomber Luis Posada Carriles and similar conspirators, and I could go on…

    WHY would these groups fund RSF in particular? They certainly DON’T fund human rights / press freedom groups highly critical of US manipulation of Latin America, which I think is an essential factor for understanding the social problems of the region.

    Now, the funding DOESN’T mean they can’t do anything worthwhile. But what do you make of it? (Remember, RSF is just one of many human rights groups, one whose finances are much murkier than most NGOs, with millions of dollars a year in income attributed only to “calendar sales,” for example. Not impossible, but something that’s been questioned by people familiar with the calendar sales operation.)

    $$$ is just a marker… it’s the product of close, friendly relations between at least SOME people high in RSF and some people in the US foreign policy establishment. (Not sure why you think I need to know the exact names of who at RSF does what… do you want me to stalk them?)

    What happens when you slap shoulders and go out to lunch and engage in long “productive” talks with people from the State Department and/or CIA’s PR wings? Maybe nothing sinister to your eyes. Maybe it’s the most natural thing in the world, the melding of mutually beneficial viewpoints. “Synergy.”

    All I know is the results. RSF’s statements. A bit about RSF’s finances. Their responses and lack of responses to what are pretty basic questions about their integrity.

    And of course the responses of people like you. About “seriousness.” (Although you apparently also like to “keep laughing” at people who disagree with you. So you should probably focus on defending one personal emotion at a time.)

    So tell me about their funding. Take your time. Google. Plenty of people have had strong motivation to come up with answers for the questions I’m asking.

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      I think you just missed the part where I addressed your claims about financing because that’s part of your guilt by association which I was referring to. I really don’t think it matters. It’s a lot like how the extreme anti-abortion right likes to point out how Planned Parenthood was founded and originally funded by people who had some strange beliefs about race and eugenics. It’s totally irrelevant to what they’re doing now. The same applies to RSF. So sorry to inform you, but your ranting after this point was a complete waste of time.

      I don’t always laugh at people I disagree with. Just the ones who are ridiculous and believe things with no evidence at all, like you.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    Yeah, Chomsky says that there’s political bias in mainstream reportage. That doesn’t mean he thinks they’re political advocacy groups. It just means that when it comes to journalism, they’re not doing as good a job as they could be due to how business models tend to influence editorial decisions in a certain way.

    It might be the case that in covering most subjects it’s not possible to be 100% neutral and objective, but that doesn’t mean that the ideal should be abandoned altogether. The proper response to too much bias isn’t more bias in the opposite direction; it’s less bias.

    “Valid because?” Because it’s not a factual claim which can be dismissed by contradictory facts, like your claims about MLK and the CIA, etc. can. Saying that WL shouldn’t do A, B, and C, because of X, Y, and Z is a claim about value. It’s about what they think (thought) ought to be, not about what is. RSF’s original position on WL is within the realm of reasonable discourse, regardless of your smears and beliefs of a government conspiracy.

    I know about the CoIntelPro ops against MLK. Do you know of any that pertain to his assassination, or are you going to stick to just insinuating another conspiracy? You’d need some evidence to support your beliefs.

    I’ve already gone over “THEIR OWN PRESS FREEDOM SCALE.” That’s not evidence for a government conspiracy because there are two much simpler explanations for your problems with that which explain all the facts of the matter. Either you’re mistaken in thinking that it’s wrongly calculated, or they’re mistaken in their calculations. Either of those explanations are much more likely to be true. Is that really the best you’ve got?

    “I’m somewhat astounded that you don’t think this is a possibility. Do you think it’s not theoretically possible for any such NGO or it’s just RSF you can’t buy it for?”

    Are you even capable of responding to me without making up new positions and attributing them to me? You still haven’t said who you were quoting earlier, and I never said that your beliefs are impossible to be true. What I would say is that you lack evidence, and your beliefs are contrary to the facts. That’s the main problem. Insinuating, smearing, and guilt by association just aren’t good enough for me. I like having evidence for what I believe.

    What’s funny to me is why you would refrain from now claiming that WL is part of your conspiracy (I say it’s your conspiracy because it appears to only exist inside your head) because after all, they’re now teamed up with RSF. Why not believe that? Because if you’re going to just start believing things without evidence, you have no reason to accept one claim and deny another.

    You missed the point again about RSF now supporting WL. If it’s that easy for them to change positions on WL, then obviously the CIA doesn’t have the hold on RSF which you believed them to have. Do you think it just might, maybe be possible that they have positions with which you disagree for valid reasons, instead of it being a CIA plot? Maybe?

    It’s also very funny that you seem to believe I’m the one who’s emotionally invested in RSF here. It wouldn’t matter even if there were no other orgs like FAIR and CPJ, etc. if your beliefs had any evidence whatsoever. But they don’t. That, again, is the main problem I have with what you’re saying.

  • lcl

    “I know about the CoIntelPro ops against MLK. Do you know of any that pertain to his assassination, or are you going to stick to just insinuating another conspiracy? You’d need some evidence to support your beliefs.”

    There was an excellent book about it by William Pepper. I can outline his whole case if you want, but I agree with the jury that found strong and convincing evidence of a conspiracy.

    The very word conspiracy appears to make you go off the rails. That’s why I’ve kept this thread going so long. I’d love the chance to do a point-counterpoint or some kind of more formal piece around what it means to call someone a “conspiracy theorist.” Of course if you get nothing of value from anything I’ve said then maybe you’re not the one I should be bringing that up with.

    WL is not a guy and neither is RSF and these two organizations have not “teamed up.” RSF defended the govt’s position that releasing information about mass hidden civilian casualties was in fact harmful to the cause of free expression and would lead to serious reprisals against Afghan informers and US troops, a claim that was constantly repeated and finely honed by govt. apologists and has never panned out.

    Now they are, along with hundreds of other individuals and organizations, mirroring WL content. Good for them. I guess all the points I made about their overlap with US propaganda (putting them into opposition with most non-governmentally funded human rights groups) magically disappear because they are mirroring that content.

    I take credit for calling RSF a “CIA front group.” I don’t back off it, although I totally understand how many objective and well-intentioned people would see that as too extreme a comment. Maybe their idea of a front is that it’s totally controlled like a marionette. I meant front group in that it is used by a govt complex that explicitly and historically uses seemingly objective organizations to further anti-democratic political goals that the establishment claims to be part of the “national interest,” it receives money and legitimacy from powerful people and then makes proclamations and focuses campaigns against declared enemies of US “national interest”.

    Fair enough, what happens between “receives money and legitimacy” and “makes proclamations and focuses campaigns” is mostly unknowable to me or you or anyone not directly involved. That is of course what makes WL so AMAZING in the first place… it’s able to out all kinds of dirty dealing by the powerful in their own words.

    “I think you just missed the part where I addressed your claims about financing.”

    I’m still missing it reading over your ranting again. Kindly humor me and explain why the central point I’m asking about is not a big deal to you.

    “t’s a lot like how the extreme anti-abortion right likes to point out how Planned Parenthood was founded and originally funded by people who had some strange beliefs about race and eugenics.”

    Ok. Actually it’s NOTHING like that. If Planned Parenthood were RIGHT NOW receiving ongoing funding (funding that constituted a major part of their total budget) from Neo-Nazis who wanted inferior races to be exterminated, and then issued proclamations (unique among reproductive rights groups) questioning the validity of providing OB-GYNS to poor women in Africa because it would “start a dangerous precedent” or something else that overlapped with the dangerous ideology of their current funders (Neo-Nazis in this example which you set up for me), THEN yes that would be a valid concern and I would be at least skeptical of Planned Parenthood although not of legal abortion in general.

    The groups that fund RSF fund murder in the hemisphere. It doesn’t make RSF guilty of murder. It makes them guilty of receiving money from murderers, not a crime. But what are they doing to earn that money and WHY did those murderers choose to give it to THEM specifically?

    How is this not a valid question? Maybe someone else would like to answer this. I don’t think Josh is enjoying this question or else he would’ve answered it about 20 comments ago.

  • lcl

    For anyone else reading this, I want to say I came across this site through this amazing article about the Democratic leadership being “dive artists”:
    http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=138

    I forwarded this to a lot of people and it made for eye-opening discussion, you know the kind in which both sides actually learn something.

    The gist of the article, by Buffalo Beast (former?) editor Allan Uthman is that, rather than being “weak” or “too compromising” the democratic leadership in fact actively seeks the same goals as their apparent opponents in the Republican party, at least in some very important policy realms like keeping out public health care (we could add response to Wikileaks and dozens of other areas like international climate change treaties or military spending).

    This was probably the deepest and most widely-allegating “conspiracy theory” article I’d ever agreed with, in that it said that nearly the nearly the ENTIRE political leadership of America is engaged in a kind of political theater whereby the President et al (doesn’t have to mean everyone close to him obviously) have as their main goal “to make a good show of losing the struggle.”

    “It’s because all they are is the sock puppet on the left hand of corporate hegemony.”

    God bless Uthman that was an effing spot on article, full of all kinds of “wild speculation” and beautifully “ad hominem” attacks on huge swaths of America’s power elite.

    Between that and the Beast’s heart-warming “most loathesome people” infotainment I thought this site was something special. Either you’ve changed editors or you else you might consider changing one writer. Just saying.

  • lcl

    ps – Admitting I might well be wrong about RSF’s motivations is not the same as backing off my original statement about what appears to be most plausible about their motivations.

    Admitting you might be wrong about something is an important part of being human. Try it sometime!

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