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Blogging WikiLeaks News & Views for Thursday, Day 40! | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Blogging WikiLeaks News & Views for Thursday, Day 40!

As I've done for more than five weeks, I will be updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks all day, with new items added at the top. All times are ET. For more follow me on Twitter. Read about my latest book on wild, immensely influential election campaign  here.

UPDATE:  Check out Friday edition of this blog here.

11:20  Big NYT story tonight:  U.S. warning, or even moving, a few hundred people, from officials to activists,  it claims may be in danger due to be named in cables.  But "Administration officials said they were not aware of anyone who has been attacked or imprisoned as a direct result of information in the 2,700 cables that have been made public to date." 

The State Department  "is mainly concerned about the cables that have yet to be published or posted on Web sites — nearly 99 percent of the archive of 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks. With cables continuing to trickle out, they said, protecting those identified will be a complex, delicate and long-term undertaking. The State Department said it had combed through a majority of the quarter-million cables and distributed many to embassies for review by diplomats there"

9:40 I noted down below upcoming book from The Guardian called "The End of Secrecy" with surprising subtitle, "The Rise and Fall of Wikileaks."  It's on sale for February at Amazon on both U.S. and U.K. sites and now I've found it at another but with more distant pub date.  Anyone have any idea why they would declare "fall"? 

8:20  Right-wing Michael Gerson of Wash Post with hysterical attack on Assange based on the Zimbadwe cables -- the results of which much in dispute by others.  Gerson writes:   "Assange has chosen the side of Mugabe, apparently without regret. He has provided ammunition to a tyrant as surely as if he were an arms dealer. And he calls America an enemy of democracy."

8:00 MSNBC.com: Protests Mount Over Treatment of Manning.

8:15  Is the latest WikiLeaks doc dump did nothing but bring full Ambassador April Glaspie 1990 memo out it would be valuable.  Foreign Policy explains why.  "... on the charge that she could have deterred Saddam from invading Kuwait by using sterner language during that much-debated meeting, she is certainly innocent."

6:15  Wow, leave it to the Norway paper Aftenposten to finally settle this silly matter.  First, hats off to them for picking up ball dropped by The Guardian -- taking requests from readers to search the 250,000 cables for everything on one specific, perhaps, esoteric, issue.  I've mentioned before that UFO fans have had a field day for over a month,  ever since Assange in an interview said offhandedly, yeah, there are some UFO references in the cables.  Since then, rumors (in that crowd) have run rampant.  So Aftenposten searched and found...exactly 16 mentions.  Love this: Some simply referred to organizations with names abbreviated as UFO.  Others were completely trivial.  

5:55 Not sure what to make of this, as title would be quite revealing.  Amazon.com now lists  as a forthcoming title, for Feb. 11, 2011, a book titled "The End of Secrecy:  The Rise and Fall of WikiLeaks." Okay, no big surprise that a semi-instant book will be coming out.  The surprise is the listed author: "The Guardian."  The UK Amazon site has further details that will be published by Guardian Books and runs 224 pages.  One has to wonder about the "Fall" part, especially in wake of friction with Assange, as shown most recently in new Vanity Fair article.

5:10  Head of Center for Constitutional Rights in NYC on "WikiLeaks and Democracy" -- also hits Floyd Abrams and others who have claimed leaks show no wrongdoing by USA.

3:30  Leaking, old school: Ex-CIA officer indicted today for leaking to reporter in 2002.  Reporter sounds like he is James Risen of NYT.  Good background by  Jack Shafer.

3:15 Now Bianca Jagger responds to Nick Davies' response to her response to Assange "trial by newspaper."   Concludes: "As I stated previously, it is my hope that justice will be served in the British judicial system. In the meantime, I hope readers will have the insight to suspend judgment until all evidence is available. Julian Assange is innocent until proven guilty. "  We are ready to cover his response.

1:15  There's a journalist on Twitter from the Norwegian paper Aftenposten that has been posting so many cables from its own cache.  He's @jfuruly.   Just now he tweeted:  "Aftenposten news editor's computer hacked," with this link: http://bit.ly/gA0jI9  Unfortunately, not yet translated....

1:10  Local WikiLeaks?  BBC:  A French regional council suspended a computer engineer after he leaked stuff.  

1:05  Henry Farrell post says Vanity Fair piece reveals how surprisingly vulnerable WikiLeaks may be to official crackdown -- Assange role, far-flung, need for money, and so forth.

12:40  Computer World:  U.S. government crackdown on Wiki leaks more like CIA paranoid mentality.

11:40  Wash Post writer David Cole with spoof, saying he got via WikiLeaks copy of new Conservative U.S. Constitution.  "We, the Real Americans, in order to form a more God-Fearing Union, establish Justice as we see it, Defeat Health-Care Reform, and Preserve and Protect our Property, our Guns and our Right Not to Pay Taxes, do ordain and establish...." 

11:35  New from The Guardian:  cables show U.S. and Japan in whaling "plot":  Japan would cut its whaling and  U.S. would help crack down on anti-whaling activists.

11:15  On Twitter, @sneakerseminole claimed that I deserve Pulitzer for 40 days of raining down Wiki items.  I had to remind him that, thanks,  but remember that Judy Miller has won a couple.

11:05  New Forbes piece on Anonymous plans for hacking other government sites after the Tunisia attack.  “We have the capacity to eliminate the infrastructures of any and all government sites on our watchlist,” says Topiary.

10:55  From Australia comes report on new cable claiming China's military spending way beyond what they've announced, amounting to big buildup.

10:50  Latest hit on Naomi Wolf's Guardian piece which advocated releasing names of those charging rape.

10:35  Haaretz covers discovery that access to many political sites blocks at Israel's main airport.  No mention of WikiLeaks, though.

10:25  AP has now caught up to report (below) on Israeli corruption at Gaza entry point involving .... Coca Cola deliveries. This is now top story on the Haaretz site.

10:20  Love David Carr but his take on Vanity Fair piece adds nothing.

10:15  Video chat with Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman on fallout from Assange sex crime charges.

9:30  Amazing: In interview with Texas Tribune, key Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes hits WikiLeaks and
"catastrophic" damage it may cause, and then is challenged on public's right to know what government is doing.  His reason for secrecy? He compares it to a man and wife in their bedroom. "Governments have the same kind of privacy expectations."   Apparently while they are fucking us. 

9:25  Alex Cockburn: Why Bradley Manning is Fighting for his Sanity.

9:20  Global Post with new report on OpenLeaks and efforts by the two former Assange allies.

9:05  More from Norway paper Afternposten, including alleged Israel corruption involving Coca Cola trucks at an entry point into Gaza.   Plus, further down the page at the Guardian link above, you will find  Assange in brief interview saying he now considers that paper (which got its own leak) a "partner."   But editor of the paper fully denies.

8:35 Fun photo and caption of Assange showing up at police station wearing socks but no shoes.  (h/t @Asher_Wolf)   

8:30  Nicholas Jackson at The Atlantic wants The Guardian to now release all the cables itself since it is no longer bound by Assange Rules.  Boing Boing mocks Vanity Fair writer for claiming Assange has "no standards at all."  Some insiders claims really nothing new in VF piece, "over-hyped."

8:10  Interesting: Heather Brooke, who figures in the Vanity Fair piece in a key way (she matched a WikiLeaks leak), tweets:  "Vanity Fair article was originally about Guardian then wikileaks  happened. Shoe-horned two articles into one. Hence all the Guardian guff."

8:05:  My full report on the Vanity Fair article below.  But  Wired's take on the  piece finds a key nugget on Bradley Manning and the rumored records on Gitmo prisoners that, rumor has it, will emerge soon.  And here's review by Jack Shafer at Slate.  Plus The Guardian's own media critic Roy Greenslade summarizes here.  

7:35  Vanity Fair chief Graydon Carter has a lengthy editor's note on the WikiLeaks article (see below), with plenty of criticism of its subject:  "Though its mission is transparency, it operates in great secrecy and believes that its only duty is to put anything and everything into public view, letting the chips fall where they may—almost a Darwinian approach to information. Assange, too, embodies his organization: subversive, fickle, abrasive, and doctrinaire, with an element of showy drama."

12:25  VF article trails off at end, does not provide any news or insight on how Assange and Guardian worked out timing and coordination with other news outlets.  Also misses the recent angry Assange response to Davies and The Guardian going with a leaked police report on his sex crime case. 

12:20  Some parts of VF article look at critique of Assange from within group, his focus on "stopping" the U.S. wars a key.  David Leigh, The Guardian's investigative chief, offers:  “Julian is staking everything on this terrific throw of the dice—that he can become the man who single-handedly rocks the U.S. administration back on its heels, and this will catapult him into making it all work again.”  But  "compared with others in his world of Internet provocateurs, Assange is almost a traditionalist—one of the few of his kind willing to work with the mainstream press and conform, at least fleetingly, to some of their standards."

12:15 Key VF  graf:   "In October, while The Guardian was preparing to publish the Iraq War Logs and working on package three, Heather Brooke, a British freelance journalist who had written a book on freedom of information, had a copy of the package-three database leaked to her by a former WikiLeaks volunteer. Leigh shrewdly invited Brooke to join the Guardian team. He did not want her taking the story to another paper. Furthermore, by securing the same database from a source other than Assange, The Guardian might then be free of its promise to wait for Assange’s green light to publish. Leigh got the documents from Brooke, and the paper distributed them to Der Spiegel and The New York Times. The three news organizations were poised to publish the material on November 8.

"That was when Assange stormed into Rusbridger’s office, threatening to sue. Rusbridger, Leigh, and the editors from Der Spiegel spent a marathon session with Assange, his lawyer, and Hrafnsson, eventually restoring an uneasy calm. Some in the Guardian camp had wanted to break off relations with Assange entirely." 

Much of first half of article looks at history of The Guardian, and then its early dealings with Assange last year, role of Nick Davies (before the falling out with Assange), intrigue over Afghan war logs. Assange split with Davies started when he gave those Afghan docs to a UK TV station and they haven't talked since. Assange actually worked at Guardian offices for awhile.  Then more intrigue over Iraq logs and amount of redaction. 

12:08:  VF piece after noting Assange threatens to sue paper:  "The Guardian, like other media outlets, would come to see Assange as someone to be handled with kid gloves, or perhaps latex ones—too alluring to ignore, too tainted to unequivocally embrace. Assange would come to see the mainstream media as a tool to be used and discarded, and at all times treated with suspicion."

12:05 a.m.   Vanity Fair just posted its Assange probe and The Guardian "bargain."  Opens:  "The collaboration between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Web’s notorious information anarchist, and some of the world’s most respected news organizations began at The Guardian, a nearly 200-year-old British paper. What followed was a clash of civilizations—and ambitions—as Guardian editors and their colleagues at The New York Times and other media outlets struggled to corral a whistle-blowing stampede amid growing distrust and anger. With Assange detained in the U.K., the author reveals the story behind the headlines."

Here's Wednesday's complete editon of this live-blog.

From late yesterday

Another victory in this fight: Guardian  tonight corrected its claim that WIkiLeaks itself had published 250,000 cables. Who's next? 

Boing Boing with fun takeoff  (see left) on Bieber beating out Assange for cover of Vanity Fair.

Andrew Sullivan's take on that new cable on Israel wanting to keep Gaza "on the brink."

Fast Company asks key question:  In the new post-Cablegate  fed crackdown on  "suspicious" employees is it asking staffers "to be spies"? 

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