Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Evidently everybody values privacy - even secrecy - sometimes. The WaPo reported yesterday that Wikileaks demanded legally enforceable confidentiality agreements of the news outlets it used to distribute the USG's private message traffic:

WikiLeaks asked CNN and the Wall Street Journal to sign confidentiality agreements that would have entitled WikiLeaks to a payment of around $100,000 if the partner broke the embargo, according to people briefed on the agreement who asked not to be named because they weren't authorized to disclose the information publicly. The agreement also stipulated that WikiLeaks could enforce the terms of the agreement in a court of WikiLeaks' choosing.

Just because Assange is a hactivist doesn't mean he won't sue you for breaking a non-disclosure agreement.


Rob Pugh said...

"Hacktivist"! HAHA! In other news cables released by Wikileaks show the USG pressured Germany not to do anything for the German citizen the CIA illegally kidnapped to Afghanistan and then tortured. Then, when they realized they had the wrong guy, months later, they left him almost naked on an empty street in Albania. So that's okay. We should pressure Germany and invoke the importance of our 'bilateral relationship' instead of holding anybody, ever, responsible for a hugely evil cock-up. Rule of law is important and all that.

One of the reasons Assange might've requested a NDA is because he knew guys in the MSM, like Keller at the Times would run to the gov at the earliest opportunity.

"KELLER: We are serially taking all of the cables we intend to post on our website to the administration, asking for their advice...

ROSS: One thing that Bill Keller just said makes me think that one shouldn't go to The New York Times for these telegrams -- one should go straight to the WikiLeaks site. It's extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the U.S. Government, but that says a lot about the politics here, where Left and Right have lined up to attack WikiLeaks - some have called it a "terrorist organization.""

TSB said...

Assange found plenty of news outlets that would cooperate with his pre-release secrecy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but NDAs are perhaps inconsistent with Assange's stated view that there is an evil conspiracy behind any withholding of information.

Khalid El-Masri got a raw deal due to mistaken identity. The U.S. judge who dismissed his suit on state secrecy grounds said that if Masri's allegations were true then he deserved compensation. The administration ought to make the offer.

I wonder whether we also pressured the Italians not to prosecute CIA personnel in that similar rendition case in Milan?

Rob Pugh said...

Haven't seen anything on Italy yet, but this has come to light in Spain - " Attention has focused on three separate matters, each pending in the Spanish national security court, the Audiencia Nacional: the investigation into the 2003 death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights, including the one which took Khaled El-Masri to Baghdad and then on to Afghanistan in 2003.

These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations..."

TSB said...

My thinking is that "obstruct" is the wrong word, since one sovereign state has no ability to actually block any action another state wants to take. "Influence" or "dissuade" or "refuse to cooperate with" would be more descriptive, if also less inflammatory.

Spain has a few judges who will launch investigations on a lot less justification, and they have a reputation for freely indicting former Chilean dictators and such for things only very loosely connected to Spanish interests. I'm not saying the incidents you mention are not connected to Spanish interests, only that particular Spanish judges are moral exhibitionists and political opportunists on a scale that exceeds even Rudy Giuliani back in his heyday as a U.S. Attorney.

However, despite that, they never show any interest in prosecuting the huge crimes that were committed in Spain, by Spaniards against Spaniards, during the Spanish Civil War. An historian recently wrote an account of the political prisons and wholesale executions that were part of the Communist-on-Anarchist and Communist-on-Communist purges that went on during that war. It's called Checas of Madrid, and so far is available only in Spanish:

Some of the people who ran those prisons are still living, but they are ignored by the same judges who would salivate at indicting, say, Rumsfeld, for the tragic death of a journalist who put himself in a war zone. Their moral outrage seems to fail them when it would hinder and not help their political interests. That’s hardly unique to Spain, but it does make me cynical whenever I learn about another high-profile Spanish investigation.