Assange’s Delusions on Bibi and Mideast Peace, Amazon’s Spinelessness
The problem with writing a blog is that you write one thing one day and by the next it’s overtaken by events and you have to backtrack and take back almost everything you said the day before. Such is the case with Julian Assange, about whom I wrote that it would be enormous folly for the U.S. to prosecute him for espionage violations for his role in the Wikileaks episode.
While I stand by what I wrote regarding this, I have to add that Julian Assange is coming across more and more as a semi-delusional personality. As Roger Cohen writes in today’s NY Times, the guy knows next to nothing about the Middle East or Israeli politics. You can see that from the nonsense he spouted in a Time Magazine interview in which he said:
…We can see the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu coming out with a very interesting statement that leaders should speak in public like they do in private whenever they can. He believes that the result of this publication, which makes the sentiments of many privately held beliefs public, are promising a pretty good [indecipherable] will lead to some kind of increase in the peace process in the Middle East and particularly in relation to Iran. I just noticed today Iran has agreed to nuclear talks. Maybe that’s coincidence or maybe it’s coming out of this process, but it’s certainly not being canceled by this process.
There are so many things wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start. First, Bibi Netanyahu should talk about saying the same thing in private that he says in public. The problem with Israeli policy is that it says one thing in private and does the exact opposite (or pretty much whatever it wants) in public. Take Meir Dagan’s promise to Bush’s national security advisor that Israel didn’t intend to attack Syria, made only two months before Israel took out an alleged nuclear reactor there.
Second, and as Cohen noted, Bibi is talking about Israel’s desire for war against Iran. He wishes foreign leaders would back up their hostile words spoken privately to U.S. ears with public hostility toward Iran. This would bring the Middle East closer to war, not peace. So if you think a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran will lead to some kind of “increase” in the peace process then you’re with Julian on this one (and belong in the loony bin). But if you’re someone who has his head screwed on right, both Bibi and Julian are full of s(&t on this one.
Which all goes to show you that even people who are doing the right thing may be doing it for the wrong reasons. Or may have feet of clay. Whistleblowers like Assange often have very complicated, and sometimes personal, or not very noble reasons for their actions. At times, they don’t understand the magnitude of their actions and their long-term impact on themselves, their loved ones or their audience. I know this from my own interaction with such a source.
Amazon…said that it had canceled its relationship with WikiLeaks not because of “a government inquiry,” but because it decided that the organization was violating the terms of service for the program.
“When companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn’t rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won’t injure others, it’s a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere,” the company said.
Talk about speaking truthfully in public settings, Amazon is lying and doing so unconvincingly. Of course they dumped Wikileaks because of a government inquiry and government pressure. Of course they didn’t want to be on the wrong side of a Washington power-broker who could cause them no end of headaches. What do you think that phone call from Joe Lieberman was? An invitation to the dance?
We got mad at Google and Yahoo for acquiescing to Chinese censorship. This isn’t that much different. Someone in the government who can make your company’s life a living hell tells you to get rid of Wikileaks and instead of considering your options or corporate reputation if you cave, you promptly follow orders and dump ’em.
Amazon’s finding that Wikileaks doesn’t “own” the data or that is isn’t rightfully theirs is just plain wild. On what basis are they saying the material isn’t rightfully theirs? Isn’t that for a court to decide? And what violation of law specifically has Wikileaks engaged in in receiving or storing the documents? That hasn’t been proven either. Yes, one could argue that Bradley Manning, the actual leaker violated military guidelines. But Wikileaks? That’s hard to tell without legal adjudication.
Besides, if Wikileaks violated Amazon’s terms of service by uploading this material to its server doesn’t every newspaper website which is featuring the same material risk violating the terms of service of their web hosts? Should the NY Times’ webhost take down its site for this reason? Where do you draw the line?
At any rate, the bottom line is that Amazon is a spineless wimp which ought to recall the corporate slogan of another online corporate behemoth, Google: Do no evil. Amazon, you’ve done bad today. Very bad. I hope you get so much nasty negative publicity from this that you live to regret your spinelessness. At the first sign of trouble, you head for the hills. Is this any way to stand up for free speech on the web? To support those who speak truth to power?
There’s a chance Julian Assange may be Time’s Person of the Year (note: I didn’t vote for him). I hope if he is he takes a nice big pot shot at Amazon for caving to U.S. government bullies.
33 thoughts on “Assange’s Delusions on Bibi and Mideast Peace, Amazon’s Spinelessness – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Well, Richard, one of these days you’ll have to make up your mind. For me, Assange has done a good job in releasing this information. He is not editorializing, merely exposing facts about the stupidity of our ruling class. If he wasn’t doing this, someone else surely would be. But not the MSM. But now that it is out, they’re smacking their lips over the salacious crap.
I read Cohen’s op-ed piece this morning, too, and almost puked. How can anyone read what this propagandist for the Obama administration and the Lobby has to say without doing so? Well, you’re still in the tank for Obama, so I guess he pleases you.
I’m not in the tank for Obama. And I don’t agree with what Cohen writes about Israel. On this subject he’s too much of a Tom Friedman clone. But on Iran & other issues, Cohen is golden. And on Assange & his dubious comments about Bibi, Cohen is precisely on target.
I think we have to start looking more closely on the leaks, and not waste so much time on the leaker–a trick which the MSM uses to avoid the best of the leaks.
Raimondo at Anti-War.com has an interesting related piece:
Yes, that certainly is an interesting bit of information. But in the grand scheme of things it’s an anomaly only picked up by the most astute analytical mind, a million miles away from the masses.
It’s intriguing how the author connects the dots from H.A.Sh Security Group to the Amdocs/Comverse/Infosys spy ring and links it all to a collaboration between an Israeli mobster and one of Israel’s top terrorism experts.
Still, an interesting drop in the bucket which alas will slip throught the cracks, while Israelis gloat they can get away with just about anything in plain sight with “legitimate” impunity.
We know what they’re up to, but it’s going to take a real bombshell to wake up the dormant masses because the enabling media certainly won’t. The mainstream is the pill that shuts off brain cells.
To say that Bibi has ‘a desire for war’ with Iran is naive at best. Nobody has a ‘desire’ to go to war with Iran, but it may very well be, a necessary evil. What Assange has done is brought it out into the open, which may force Iran to make a decision on their nuclear programme.
As an aside, you say in your rather long ‘about’ page that you are pro-Israel. I’ve spent quite a long time trawling through your site and I’m yet to see the evidence on that one.
First, I don’t owe you any explanations about why I support Israel’s long term interests while opposing its policies. Second, the problem is that you’re “trawling” through my site instead of actually reading posts in full & spending time understanding what I’m saying. Third, you’re reading w partisan ideological blinders & I don’t expect such a visitor (notice I didn’t say ‘reader’ since I see no evidence that you’re actually doing so) to understand my motives or agenda.
What nonsense. Michael Ledeen and half the neocons in the U.S. & Israel are itching to bomb Teheran and undertake regime change.
Here, I believe Assange was attempting to exploit Netanyahu’s obvious bluff of a gambit. Netanyahu is far from the poster boy for honesty (more like the poster boy for crooked politician). Lieberman also came out recently saying he thinks the Arabs are racist, shortly thereafter. We now know when the current Israeli leadership says it’s daylight that it’s night, if it’s up, it’s down, and if he’s talking terrorists, he means innocent civilians. I think Jullian and his team are wide aware of how these people behave.
It just so turns out, on the entire world stage, only one politician came out with enough BS and didn’t tell the truth again, Netanyahu, that it provided Assange with some opening to try to take an offensive. That’s what he did. It’s being misinterpreted, I believe. I don’t think he’s that naive at all.
As for Netanyahu’s integrity, I wouldn’t be seeing Israeli headlines reading: “European Countries Answer NETANYAHU’s Call to Put Out Fire” if he had any.. it’s sort of obvious his people are working with the press to frame this as a PR victory for him while half the country is ablaze. That particular Haaretz article even had 3 writers assigned to it and was all of 4 paragraphs long (do they play musical chairs with the keyboard? how does this work?).
How many guns saved these 40 young people, many with children, going to evacuate that prison? Zero. This event better reset some priorities for the Israeli leadership. First, they need to setup a fund for the victims’ children. Their lives will never be the same without their mother or father. Second and most importantly, Israel must choose to not act like an remote island anymore. If this event didn’t show it to everyone, nothing will: Israel cannot survive alone.
So, the belligerent Israeli foreign policy just got caught with its pants down. Turkey made a wise choice offering its assistance — and it was warranted — as Israel has helped Turkey in the past. This outreach of brotherhood has been witnessed by the world. In any social setting, in any country, in any culture, it is now Israeli’s duty to apologize for the tragic losses incurred by Turkey at the hands of the Israeli navy. To not do so, is universally bad for Israel.
As they say in Chess, to my comrade Avigdor Lieberman, “Check.”
What will vindicate my answer is if Julian starts releasing documents damning to the Israeli leadership en masse. Mind you, hardly any of the cables have been released and they said the most damaging will be released last.
They did? Where?
“I think Jullian and his team are wide aware of how these people [Netanyahu and Lieberman] behave.”
If he is, then why is he stroking their ego and allowing them to stroke his??
Maybe he just overestimates the power of his leaks or maybe he doesn’t care he’s on the same page with these goons even though they’re a bunch of war-mongers who could care less about peace.
Sounds more to me like our friend Assange is giving Netanyahu an easy pass and a pat on the back.
I must say I lost a huge respect for Assange for speaking so naive about Netanyahu, a man of peace? A man that is not naive? I mean what kind of BS is this? If he support netanyahu, what is the difference he dont support bush or obama which would make these leaks counterproductive to leak in the first place.
Also, how could he know so much about Netanyahu, have he met him?
I dont want to come out like a conspiracy nut but cui bono regarding the leaks? It wouldnt be a suprise if there is some mossad connection.
If there’s one thing Bibi is not – it’s naive. He may not be a man of peace but he certainly isn’t naive. I’d say he is one of the least naive politicians in the world and this is why he is so successful at being as deceitful as he is. I recommend his interview with settlers from 2001.
And I really doubt there is any Mossad connection and frankly I’m tired of these conspiracy theories. I wouldn’t be surprised if the leak was many things but that doesn’t make it so.
Jack was implying that Assange is naive, not Netanyahu.
But then, I believe that neither of the two are naive and both have deceit up their sleeve.
Ah, well it was very late at night here when I made that comment. Sorry for the confusion.
How many people here wish they even were a blip on the radar of history and a veritable modern day Robin Hood like this guy?
I don’t know if I would equate him with Robin Hood just yet or maybe, ever. I don’t see the benefits of these leaks amounting to very much for the little guy.
First, I think that Julian Assange did not see the context of Netanyahu’s statement, so he took it hopelessly out of context. (Silly boy, thinking that Bibi ever says anything one can possibly agree with.) From previous statements Julian has made about war, I’m sure he does not want Iran attacked. Interpreting his motives for the release of the documents as a sign that he wants Iran atacked is thus not fair.
Second, I suspect that, when these releases happen, he gets no sleep for days and spends all his time trying to keep the site up. That’s why he noticed Iran’s agreement for nuclear talks so late as well. Of course, he shouldn’t allow himself to be dragged into discussing international affairs without having time to read.
Third, he actually thinks very carefully of the possible consequences of transparency activism. He knows that their leaks may have been responsible for some of the Kenyian post-election violence in 2007, for example. He’s written a kind-of manifesto which is worth reading if one wants to get his thinking. It’s explained quite well here:
I agree about Amazon, and US company everydns killed their domain name. Now available at http://wikileaks.de/ http://wikileaks.fi/ http://wikileaks.nl/
A Wikileaks tweet from this morning: “Utterly surreal: Pravda justifiably criticising US for trying to stifle a free press bit.ly/hD2zst How times change.”
To be clear, I don’t believe Assange supports an attack on Iran. But the result of not sufficiently understanding a complicated issue like the content of these cables as they reflect on U.S. diplomacy & policy toward Iran is ridiculous statements like the one he made. He simply hasn’t absorbed the meaning of the information contained in the documents, which is a problem w. this Wikileaks dump in general. He’s acting more like a warehouse or storage facility than a retailer, who sorts & sifts information & tries to comprehend its meaning before releasing to the public.
Since you’re well versed in Assange’s ideas and Wikileaks in general, I’d be very interested if he or Wikileaks makes a public statement about the web hosts which dumped it from their servers. I esp. think a statement responding to Amazon is in order. Let me know if there is such a thing.
I wouldn’t read too much into Assange’s comments on the Middle East. Assange is on record as saying, “We’re out to crush the bastards” – that’s good enough for me. Keep at it, Julian.
Richard, I love you dearly but I want to reach out and smack you upside the head regarding your remarks on Julian Assange.
First, the MSM is not happy about Wikileaks because it shows how much news they’ve seen fit to drop on the newsroom floor or relegate to page C27. I really don’t care how much a NYT columnist whines about people who beat them to the punch. Today it’s the whistleblower, the next day it’s the blogger — know what I mean?
Secondly, it’s not Assange’s job to be a genius on foreign policy. OK, he should probably keep his opinions to himself (which would actually make his enterprise more successful), but we can appreciate the talents of an idiot savant pianist while not expecting him to be good at small talk at wine and cheese parties. Give the guy a break.
It is incorrect to say that what he’s doing he is doing for the wrong reasons. One word: transparency. That’s in their charter and it’s quite a good reason. And it has done a good job of confirming many things we thought we knew about foreign policy in the past and present.
As for the rest of what you wrote, it passes my strict housekeeping seal of approval.
By doing things for the wrong reasons, I was referring not just to Assange but another individual I’ve dealt w. in similar circumstances. They each have varied personal & political motives that drive them to do the things they do. Some of those motives are honorable & principled & some are rooted in personal demons or scores that demand settling. While I don’t know Assange’s personal situation as well, it is clear the guy has plenty of such demons, which makes him a flawed human being undertaking a project that is largely good, but possibly flawed in some ways fr. ulterior motives.
Sorry if this sounds a bit obscure, but it has to be.
I understand what you mean, but I can’t think of a character who wouldn’t have these demons and still decide to go against the world. You’ve got to have “scored that demand settling” – personal or philanthropic – in order to found & maintain an organization such as his.
Richard, I don’t think they’ve released an official statement, but spokespeople have been quoted saying two things:
1. In response to the accusation of having material that does not belong to them, they say that Amazon hosted both the Iraq and the Afghanistan files without worrying. And, like you said, it’s for a court to determine whether they have it legally or not. (Unlike the original leaker who did steal it).
2. In response to the accusation that they will harm people because “it is not plausible that they could have read through 250,000 documents”, a spokesperson said that they have actually posted only 600, so Amazon was lying.
You are right, though, they do play the role of a publisher, not a journalist.
The Library of Congress has now blocked access to the Wikileaks site on its staff computers and on the wireless network that visitors use. And the French government is threatening the French company, OVH, that is hosting the files with “consequences”. It’s a full out war now.
The documents are already available on every peer-to-peer network, and ask the music industry, one cannot shut those down.
I know being anti-establishment just for the sake of being anti-establishment is super uncool, but this really is great to watch.
MY COMMENT: That’s a great photo of Joe “Il Poco Duce” Lieberman pumping his fist into the air!
FROM GLENN GREENWALD’S BLOG, 02/05/07:
SOURCE – http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2007/02/profile-of-neoconservative-warrior.html
David wrote here : “Richard, I love you dearly but I want to reach out and smack you upside the head regarding your remarks on Julian Assange.”
Richard, there’s a reason why I try to read your blog religiously every day and this post reinforces this reason.
The fact that you criticized the Obama administration in a previous article for attempting to prosecute Assange and now are critical of Assange’s stupid remarks, because that’s what they are, tells me you’re not afraid to admit that maybe Assange’s motives might be questionable, if it means getting to the truth of this conundrum, because that’s exactly what this cablegate is.
As the truth evolves, rather than allowing what you may have previously stated to taint your future opinions, you evolve with it. This is what makes great reporting, following every lead no matter if it leads in a different direction contradicting what you were led to believe previously.
This statement by Cohen struck a chord with me:
“Julian Assange, the thin-skinned founder of WikiLeaks, has hurt U.S. interests across a broad but probably shallow spectrum.”
If I understand correctly, these leaks did not do irreparable damage; it was on a “shallow spectrum”.
This statement invokes the “lesser evil”: Certain individuals would throw a friend under the bus for what they consider the greater good, too often, “self-interest”.
Two days ago M. J. Rosenberg wrote: “Isn’t it unseemly that the Israeli government, which receives unstinting support, even degrading support, from the United States can so openly gloat when the US is terribly embarrassed.”
Methinks Israel is way too giddy over Wikileaks. The leaks went beyond Abdullah’s comment on Iran. The fact that the U.A.E., Lebanon’s government and Qatar’s emir actually made supportive statements regarding Israel in private is a stunning revelation, favorable to Israel. So Netanyahu must have been very frustrated knowing that these leaders uttered these statements while he was unable to shout it from the rooftops because it was U.S. classified info.
How convenient that Assange gave him an outlet to release this frustration. Rosenberg stated: “Julian Assange buys into Netanyahu line that by demonstrating anti-Iran sentiment is rampant in region, WikiLeaks will help Netanyahu achieve peace. Peace? Netanyahu? I guess Assange is no Commie, more like a Likudnik.”
Likudnik in deed! Where’s the dirt on Israel, Assange? Don’t tell me there’s no dirt when the Rosen bombshell is hitting the fan. There’s tons of dirt. Nonetheless, Israel came out smelling like a rose!
The damage was shallow, far from irreparable (the sacrifice) and Netanyahu’s giddy (the greater gain). Assange suddenly reaffirms and restates Netanyahu’s comment on this leak “being a breakthrough on the road to peace” ALMOST PARAPHRASING IT like a PARROT.
Hello? What’s wrong with this picture? Is this an optical illusion? Until now, I’ve been looking at these leaks favorably from the angle of transparency and accountability, very critical of anyone agreeing with prosecution, but was this the real aim with the release of shallow information we all suspected anyway?
I know why I didn’t pick Assange Time’s Person of the Year. I had very mixed feelings, and now, I don’t quite trust his motives. From wiki: “Assange began hacking under the name “Mendax” (derived from a phrase of Horace: “splendide mendax,” or “nobly untruthful”.”
Mendacious i.e. deceitful derived from “mendax”, hmmm…
Somehow deceit and noble don’t belong in the same phrase. Noble belongs with the truth.
The jury’s still out on Assange.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this comment. And how well you’ve captured the vicissitudes of blogging & my approach to it. Blogging is a little like the ways in which human beings perceive reality. It’s ever-shifting & requires constant adjustment to change. Those bloggers who present a monolithic, uniform version of reality may be very popular because they are predictable. But they don’t adapt when their environment does and so let themselves & their readers down. Pam Geller & any number of bloggers betray this approach. I’d rather choose to change my views when the evidence suits. I think it’s more honest & truer to reality. It does require readers to get the nuance and that’s why some of my right wing readers like to pounce on what they see as inconsistencies. But usually they’re merely course corrections rather than contradictions.
However, I don’t completely buy the ‘Israel comes out smelling like a rose’ line either. So I don’t see Assange or Wikileaks as an Israeli puppet as some are portraying them. There’s plenty of Wikileaks dirt on Israel which I exposed in two posts. I don’t know why the media and bloggers aren’t focusing more on this damaging material.
I was going to say – I think Israel’s dirt has mostly already shown itself publicly, some of it here. For example, the Gaza Blockade documents. That would have been leak-worthy, but it’s already out there in the open.
And I’m sure your “course corrections” irk some of your left wing readers too. It goes both ways.
Oh yes, certainly my course corrections irk readers like Gene & others. Some far leftists (or else right wing provocateurs pretending to be leftist) too have tried to publish some pretty offensive stuff.
We are not irked. Only amused. I love you too, Richard.
I just wanted to add something interesting that Zbigniew Brzezinski said in an interview with PBS right after the Wikileaks dump:
“And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren’t some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments.
For example, leaving aside the personal gossip about Sarkozy or Berlusconi or Putin, the business about the Turks is clearly calculated in terms of its potential impact on disrupting the American-Turkish relationship….”.
Is it so far-fetched to imagine that Israeli intelligence services happened to access these documents and selectively feed them to Wikileaks? He goes on to say: “Seeding — seeding it is very easy. I have no doubt that WikiLeaks is getting a lot of the stuff from sort of relatively unimportant sources, like the one that perhaps is identified on the air. BUT it may be getting stuff at the same time from interested intelligence parties who want to manipulate the process and achieve certain very specific objectives.”
I also believe there’s more here than meets the eye. Whether or not Assange is a puppet is another matter. Maybe he’s playing directly into their hands by stupidly underestimating the Israeli government’s real objective, when he parotted Netanyahu’s statement, I don’t know.
Netanyahu was just too smug, too giddy when these leaks were dumped.
My instincts tell me something’s not right with this picture.
Oh yes, it’s very possible that intelligence services are using Wikileaks in this way. In fact, some Israelis who claimed intelligence connections tried feeding me garbage information but I knew they were frauds because very few intelligence services would approach a publisher or Wikileaks & freely admit they had intelligence connections. But what alarms me is that I don’t know whether Assanage has the smarts to understand that he can be used in this way. It’s a rough game trying to sift through info you’re offered to determine its true value. You really need professionals to do that & I’m not sure Assange has any. In a way, that’s why nations have diplomats and foreign correspondents. They know the country, they know the personalities, they know the issues.
Not that I’m downgrading the value of what Assange has done, I’m not. I’m just taking a step back & trying to see the full forest for the trees.
Judging solely by the technical & legal aspects of WikiLeaks – I think it’s safe to say Assange has an array of impressive professionals behind him. I think it would be safe to bet they have some very professional personnel sorting through the information.
I saw this wonderful documentary about the first wave of Jews that moved to Israel from Arab countries where it was stated by Arab-Jews that they lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors for generations UNTIL they moved to Israel. The Arab-Jews interviewed lamented how they were ‘sold the Zionist lie’: They arrived to an Israel pervasive with discrimination and bound together by little more than a need to have military conflict to give them something to unite over. One of the byproducts of the Zionist lie — for millions of Jews that lived in Arab lands — was the destruction of Jewish communities in those Arab countries and the engendering of hateful attitudes among their ethnic brothers and sisters due to Zionism. What we have now in Israel is a melting pot of world Jewry that has been stripped of many aspects of its original ethnic and cultural identity (e.g., Algerian Muslims and Algerian Jews have more in common ethnically, culturally, linguistically when Algerian Jews are compared, for example, to Russian Jews. The same holds true, for example, for Ethiopian-Jews when compared to Ethiopian-Christians vs. Polish-Jews). What Zionism did was separate brother from brother based on the lie of common religious affiliation through the creation of a new country that (paradoxically) is overwhelmingly atheist.