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This is a question B3ta Person of the Year 2010

Instead of Time person of the year, who's B3ta's and why? (Thanks to Elliot Reuben for the suggestion.)

(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 10:53)
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Serious response?
Even stepping over the issues of "rightness" or not of blindly releasing what mostly amounts the world politic equivalent of schoolyard gossip, even ignoring that the specific mandate of most democratic government is that it is allowed to make decisions without consulting or informing the electorate, (which seems to be some people's issue with some of this) - that's what we put them in power for, after all - the issue with the concept of "holding a mirror up to the world" and therefore also the major problem with this deification of Assange is the blind assumption that everything on Wikileaks is true. Some of it is demonstrably untrue to anyone with half an ounce of sense. Some of it is true, of course, I agree, but what we're doing here is suddenly making one site the moral arbitrator of what's true or not or right or wrong. Personally, I've got as much of a problem with that any amount of repression by "the man"
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:17, closed)
there's a lot more in wikileaks than school yard gossip - there's powerful accusations
* there's American tax payer money spent by a US company on child prostitution

* there's the UK promising that the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq war will protect America

* There's an oil company infiltrating the Nigerian governments to control business interests

Is this stuff true? Some of it true - some of it is opinion - some of it is bollocks. Which is partly why wikileaks working with journalists like The Guardian to give this stuff context is exactly the right thing to do.

The idea of one site being the moral arbitrator of truth is a bit sensationalist. Wikileaks has no monopoly on publishing leaked data or working with newspapers.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:39, closed)
My serious problem with the whole thing
Is that Wikileaks make the decision about what and what not to "leak" .. therefore who regulates them? They are making moral choices every time they leak something.

To put it in perspective - The Daily Mail back Sarah's law or whatever the fuck you want to call it, demanding that the names and addresses of everyone on the sex offenders register is made public. Right thinking, decent human beings call that an outrage. Wikileaks effectively do the same thing, every day, and it's supposed to be wonderful? Bollocks. They have no right to decide what information should be public and what shouldn't. No-one made them the boss.

Just because information is there doesn't mean everyone has the right to see it.

Any I agree with you about serious crimes/accusations. The child prostitution thing. The war crimes stuff. But if crimes are committed, people should be punished. You do not punish people by publishing accusations and evidence prior to an arrest. Let's not forget in a lot of countries that makes it inadmissible in an actual trial.

But I mention this again. What makes you believe the accusations are true over any denial? Since you accept that some things on wikileaks are untrue, what evidence do you have that the "serious" stuff is any more true? (I'm not saying it isn't, but you or I or any other member of the public has no way of knowing, yet the majority believes it is just because a) they want to believe in giant conspiracy and b) a man on the internet says so.

Personally, I think wikileaks is symptomatic of everything that is wrong with the internet. Information in the hands of those utterly ill-equipped to either judge it properly or use it wisely.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:03, closed)
some of these documents make claims (claims written by American diplomats, not wikileaks, who claim very little)
that for example America has picked people up for crimes they didn't commit - tortured them - then covered it up. The problem is when you have a system that's covering up its wrongdoing, it can't be trusted to investigate it either. Only a third party can expose this.

Publishing it is the right way to go - working with journalists and professional news agencies to secure this information gets out there.

As to which stuff gets published? With the Cableleaks stuff at the moment - you can request the Guardian searches for specific stuff - as they are sitting on the entire archive - and if it uncovers something interesting they are sticking this out.

Chunking it up like this is the sensible way to handle it - a dump of 250k stories would have made people go "too much info" and switch off.

Personally don't wish to see Wikileaks as a gatekeeper of all info - and assuming the baddies don't win and everyone becomes too frightened to ever leak anything ever again - then I think we could see a number of competing sites with different styles. Like we have youtube, but also liveleak, vimeo etc. The internet doesn't like monopolies - where there's a hit website others make their own versions.

And as to why do I believe it? Well the source isn't some mental on the internet, it's 1000s of bright and highly trained diplomats and it's the quantity - there's so much stuff there that shows a system wide abuse of power, the only way it's untrue as a whole is if the diplomatic machine is insane and spent 40 odd years writing fictional documents.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:39, closed)
diplomats record everything. fact. fiction. rumour. heresay. without the original context, and the person who wrote it to report, it's meaningless.

And I totally agree, find a unbiased third party capable of analysing properly the evidence and use them to review it then reveal to the public "the truth" if you want to call it that . Wikileaks is in no way unbiased nor have I seen any evidence it's capable of properly analysing. Journalists certainly aren't. and the public most certainly isn't either.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:47, closed)
The wonderful thing about the internet, is that it is now possible to do these dumps. In the olden days, when granddad rode a bicycle to the pit, newspapers made decisions about what to print and what not to print, and interpreted and filtered information, for a range of reasons but significantly because of the technological and cost limitations. It was not practical to print (or reprint) all documents they might have acquired.
The other thing is that there is simply much more documents and data available these days to leak. And much easier to copy (rather than needing to photocopy, or photograph, or steal several cabinets full). It is also available to much wider audience. According to some reports the diplomatic cables were available to about 2 million people when they were secure.
As far as I can tell, Wikileaks is making far fewer decisions about what it publishes than traditional media makes. The last dump, the Afghan/Iraqi war papers, was just that a dump of documents all at once; the original source documents all at once. The current dumps of the cables are being released in chunks, according to what I've read, to maintain the attention on the cables.
You are correct in stating that the cables are not necessarily the truth, they are the opinions of individual diplomats, and are based on a range of sources including rumour and speculation. This simple fact is something that has been lost on many, including mainstream media reporting on the cables.
However, Wikileaks is releasing the original cables, so I don't think anyone can accuse Wikileaks as presenting the content of the cables themselves as absolute truth.
The real power in Wikileaks, is the fact that we can so much more easily get the original source documents, read them and make up our own minds, instead of relying on the particular biases of our favourite daily, be it the Daily Mail or the Guardian.
By giving us direct access, it is so much harder for a few to control the flow of information. A superficial glance at history shows how easy it has been in the past for information to be controlled, because decisions about the flow of information were made by so few people.
(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 0:31, closed)
and by extension Assange, decides what to release.
Just saying, like.
(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 8:59, closed)
But they release it unedited, without opinion or judgement
That's got to be worth something
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 18:27, closed)
There's a decent comparison to be drawn
with a prosecution lawyer producing evidence to a jury, then saying "let the facts speak for themselves".
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 19:39, closed)
Unless you are an expert in
economics, politics, social welfare, conflict and about 30 other things besides, and are in possesion of every other single bit of "unleaked" information about scenarios, you don't possess the capabiliy to analyse most of the stuff leaked and "make up your own mind" at least not in an unbiased mannner.

You think you do, but you don't. Just saying, like.

And unbiased? Please. Bradley Manning has a huge agenda. He's got a chip on his shoulder against the US military the size of Wales. Assange has a huge personal agenda, mostly "Julian Assange". They are about as unbiased as a Russian football ref.
(, Mon 20 Dec 2010, 11:26, closed)
Everyone's biased in their own way
It's inescapable. But that doesn't make the information biased - it's people's perceptions of it that provide the bias. Sure, they may have their own agendas for releasing the information, but that doesn't make the information itself biased.

Just saying, like
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 18:28, closed)
"what we're doing here is suddenly making one site the moral arbitrator of what's true or not or right or wrong"
Who's doing this? Or what makes you think this? I'm genuinely interested.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:50, closed)
see above
The problem is that people take wikileaks as gospel (actually the same, massive problem, is true of wikipedia). Therefore Assange (I know it's not just him, but you get the point) is choosing what the internet community believe simply by what he leaks, true or not. And who put him in the position to judge? He knows about as much about the reality of politics and economics and social behaviour as I do.

(this sentence has nothing to do with my argument, but as 50% /talk resident I feel obliged to sling some abuse) Less, in fact, because I'm not clearly a socially ill-equipped shut-in with a serious chip on my shoulder because I was bullied by an authority figure as a child.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:09, closed)
Fortunately the majority of the information released has been diplomatic gossip
but let's imagine a situation in which Wikileaks has evidence that Israel plans to bomb Iran immenently; would the release of this information be "in the public interest"? Yes, in that the public would be interested. No, in that the release of such information would no doubt precipitate a reaction from both parties. I don't trust Assange to be the arbiter any more than I would trust my cat.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:30, closed)
And the reaction to the rape thing sickens me. He might or might not be guilty, of course. But we have people (I'm especially liooking at you, Tatchell) that in any other situation would be screaming blue murder because of the amount of effort that goes into getting a decent level of rape convictions who suddenly think this man should not face questioning because "it's clearly a trumped-up charge to get him in the hands of the US" Fuck's sake. Since Swedish law prohibits publishing of details of alleged crimes or evidence, we have no idea - any of us - what he might or might not have supposedly done, and Sweden complicit with the US in bringing down someone on a free speech issue? Seriously? Go outside, bang your head on a wall, and come back in when you've seen sense.

How does a load of celebrities and the public get to decide guilt and innocence in crime? This isn't I'm a fucking celebrity or Britain must be stopped.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:42, closed)
It's all grist to the mill
of those who credit the US administration with more influence and ability than they've ever demonstrated. Let's not forget, they singularly failed to predict (let alone bring about) the collapse of communism, they fucked up the invasion of Iraq something chronic and they can't even prevent the leaking of some pretty inocuous diplomatic cables. If I was that way inclined, I'd start thinking they've got some sort of conspiracy of inability going on...
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 18:27, closed)
Good response
the vast majority of stuff released by Wikileaks was common knowledge. Nigerian governmental corruption? The UK supine in the face of US pressure? Russia controlled by mafia? Knock me down with a feather. The very fact that this information was being circulated to low level personnel in the US administration points to how unimportant it was deemed to be. That some politicians are screaming "off with his head" as regards Assange is neither here nor there.
I'm afraid that the only long lasting effect of this leak will be a much tighter system of control on the flow of information within and from the US.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 15:03, closed)

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