Juan Cole Weighs in on Wikileaks

As I noted in my earlier post, Slapping Down the Waves… more than 200 mirror sites have popped into existence to keep Wikileaks available. (See Evading a shutdown from FP Passport | FOREIGN POLICY). Juan Cole, as ever, has a perspective both wide and deep:

A big issue in the Wikileaks controversy has to do with restrictions on freedom of speech in a democratic society, and the use of pressure tactics and of corporate policy to curb speech that is not shown to be illegal. That tendency is very troubling, and recalls the strong arm tactics of the House of Representatives, the FBI, and major corporations during the McCarthy era.

Wikileaks domain name provider, Everydns, has stopped servicing their web address, citing denial-of-service attacks. Cole notes:

But if that is the reasoning, then the victim is being punished, since denial of service attacks are illegal in the US.

Cole calls Amazon to task as well.

Amazon wrote: …

It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content.’

Cole points out that:

the US Government does not hold copyright in government-generated documents.They are paid for by the public and are in the public domain. The US government has the right to withhold the documents it generates from the public, according to US law and court decisions. But once a document has become public, no matter how, the government cannot sue for copyright infringement or demand its return on those grounds…

Oh yes. And Cole takes note of this deliciousness:

The State Department seems to be trying to scare young people in international relations fields off from reposting wikileaks cables at their Facebook pages, warning them it could harm their future job prospects with the government.

So the State Department threatens to  punish students of diplomacy from studying … diplomatic documents.

Blockquotes from Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government | Informed Comment

Electronic documents are designed to circulate, and cannot be forever kept within the fluid bounds of the organization which created them. This exercise in wave-slapping is, ultimately, futile.

Not to mention dangerous. This from Susie Madrak on Crooks and Liars

This WikiLeaks whack-a-mole reminds of the old film about early rock and roll, “American Hot Wax.” … DJ Alan Freed is arrested in a payola scandal during one of his rock shows. I can still hear him yelling, “You can stop me, but you’re never gonna stop rock and roll!” …

The grownups didn’t understand the power of rock, and I can assure you that the political Beltway class doesnot understand the power of the internets.

In fact, the feds narrowly dodged a bullet last week when they dropped a case against a man offering X-box modification services. …  As one gamer told me, “That was good, because you really don’t want to get those hackers mad. They’ll take down the entire government.”

Stop WikiLeaks? You Might As Well Try To Stop Rock And Roll | Crooks and Liars

Half a haiku, one more time:

Slapping down the waves

Does not calm the water.

This entry was posted in Cultural Comment, Law, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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