04
Dec
10

on cablegate

can we stop the “-gate” thing already? anyway, here’s steven aftergood and glenn greenwald on the wikileaks event

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Steven Aftergood, I’d like to get your response to Glenn Greenwald just before our break and this issue of the fundamental challenge that he believes they are providing to elites all around the world.

STEVEN AFTERGOOD: You know, maybe he’s right, but I don’t think so. I think their theory of political action is extremely primitive. It’s basically throw a lot of stuff out there, and then good things will happen to good people and bad things will happen to bad people. They made a tremendous splash with their Apache helicopter video, showing the killing of people in Baghdad in 2007. But did it lead to a change in the rules of engagement that would prevent a similar event from happening in the future? No. Did it lead to compensation for or reparations for the people who were wounded there? No. It made a big splash, and then we went on to the next big splash. And, you know, again, I could easily be wrong; I often am. Maybe WikiLeaks is going to lead to an avalanche of openness and good government. My concern, though, is the opposite, that it’s going to lead to a new clampdown, new restrictions, more secrecy.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, your response?

GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, I find that standard that he just articulated to be unbelievable and absurd. The idea that WikiLeaks hasn’t single-handedly reformed the United States military’s rule of engagement, and that’s supposed to be some sort of criticism of what it does? I mean, Mr. Aftergood created a big splash back in June after Wikileaks released the Afghanistan war documents, and he made that same argument in response to something I had written when I praised Wikileaks, and he said, “Well, how many wars have WikiLeaks stopped?” How many wars has Mr. Aftergood stopped? How many rules of engagement has he caused to be changed? I mean, it’s not WikiLeaks’s fault or its responsibility that when they show grave injustices to the American people that the citizenry is either indifferent towards those injustices or apathetic towards them. WikiLeaks is devoted to shedding light on what these injustices are, and it’s then our responsibility to go about and do something about them.

Again, they’re a four-year-old organization. And they have led to all sorts of important reforms. I mean, in Iceland, WikiLeaks was basically the single-handed cause of a new law that is designed to protect whistleblowing and whistleblowing sites like WikiLeaks beyond anything else that exists in the world. Their exposure of corruption on the part of a Iceland’s biggest banks, that led to the financial meltdown, led to investigations and prosecutions. The same thing happened to exposure of injustices and corruption on the part of oil magnates in Peru. They exposed the Australian government’s efforts to target websites to be shut down under a program designed to target child pornography, when in reality the sites that were targeted were political sites. And in Spain this week, the headlines are dominated by documents that WikiLeaks released that you, Amy, covered two days ago with Harper’s Scott Horton about the fact of the Spanish government’s succumb to pressure by the American State Department not to investigate the torture of its own citizens and the death of a Spanish photojournalist in Iraq, because WikiLeaks exposed that. And so you see all over the world, in just a short history of four years, immense amounts of reforms and greater awareness of what political and financial elites are doing around the world. I think he’s imposing on them an absurd and unreasonable standard that he, himself, and essentially nobody else is able to meet, either.

what i see is the beginning of a heretofore unprecented use of technology to expose the essential flaw in government as we’ve known it — that in the name of national security countless crimes are committed and lies told (for example the extent of corruption in afghanistan) casually and without consequences, and there is no one in the house of media doing anything but parroting what it’s told and coveting it’s sources.

it’s nothing new if you understand deep politics, but jon stewart’s “we-know-all-this anyway” response seemed like a surreptitious finger-wagging to me.

i agree with greenwald — post 9/11 especially, people are way too ready to give those in power the benefit of the doubt for some red herring of a feeling of security.

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