Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wiki Not Only Source of Leaks

December 16, 2010, 9:00 a.m.

We Have Found the Enemy
(bought to you by*)

While embarrassed U.S. Government officials in the State Department and Department of Justice are busily trying to come up with some legal theory to persecute Julian Assange beyond what the Swedes have devised, it turns out that other officials have been busily leaking material more significant than any Wikileaks ever dreamed of revealing.

(See, Nicholas Johnson, "Wikileaks Random Thoughts & Comments," December 7, 2010; Nicholas Johnson, "Wikileaks In Its Own Words," December 3, 2010;
Charlie Savage, "U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks," New York Times, December 16, 2010, p. A1; Elisabeth Bumiller, "Intelligence Reports Offer Dim View of Afghan War," New York Times, December 15, 2010, p. A1.)

As the Times' Charlie Savage reports this morning, above,
Since WikiLeaks began making public large caches of classified United States government documents this year, Justice Department officials have been struggling to come up with a way to charge Mr. Assange with a crime . . . including the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.

But while prosecutors have used such laws to go after leakers and hackers, they have never successfully prosecuted recipients of leaked information for passing it on to others — an activity that can fall under the First Amendment’s strong protections of speech and press freedoms.
How ironic that on the same front page of the same newspaper the day before, Elisabeth Bumiller was passing along to Times' readers the leaks from highly classified government documents provided to her by U.S. government officials, above -- clearly not all (if, indeed, any) of whom had the legal authority to declassify them.

Bear in mind, these are not like a Wikileaks' State Department cable that might report a single diplomat's impressions of a given individual, event or situation. These are the joint product of our nation's 16 top intelligence agencies in what's called the National Intelligence Estimates. And they happen to deal with a debate currently ongoing within the Administration regarding the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan; a debate that pits the Department of Defense against the intelligence community. Bumiller reports these "two new classified intelligence reports [one on Afghanistan, the other on Pakistan] offer a . . . negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success . . .."

And who are her unnamed sources? "[A] number of American officials," referred to simply as "officials" throughout the very revealing story.

Savage reports the Justice Department may have already convened a grand jury to consider possible charges against Assange -- who is probably a constitutionally protected distributor of often-inconsequential cables, not the original hacker or leaker.

Will there also be a DOJ grand jury to consider prosecution of the officials who clearly were the leakers of classified intelligence reports to The New York Times?

Will there be a prosecution of The New York Times and the other leading global newspapers that have also performed a much more consequential (in terms of size of audience) distribution of the cables than anything Wikileaks ever did?

To paraphrase Jesus' comment regarding the medical profession, "Politician, heal thyself." Luke 4:23.

Or, as cartoonist Walt Kelly once had his popular character, Pogo, observe, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
# # #

Monday, December 13, 2010

War On Sabbaticals Casualty of Iowa Public Radio

December 13, 2010, 9:00 a.m.

Universities Should Use Their Stations to Tell Story
(bought to you by*)

Explaining the reasoning behind faculty sabbaticals ought to be a slam dunk.

There are thousands of ways in which Iowans have benefited from their State Universities -- everyone from newborn babies to K-12 students, and high school dropouts to professionals with graduate degrees. There is no one living here who is not better off, in some way, as a result.

Thousands of stories. All waiting to be told.

That they are not being told, over the statewide radio network licensed to those universities, is sad, discouraging -- even outrageous.

As I write in this month's Prairie Progressive:
Law aside, the universities are spending big bucks on technology, personnel and press releases to improve their image, encouraging “faculty engagement” with Iowans, and lobbying for a level of financial support from the Legislature more befitting “State” universities. Their failure to enlist in these endeavors the statewide radio network they already own is a bewildering oversight of monumental consequence.
Nicholas Johnson, "The Commercialization of Non-Commercial Radio," The Prairie Progressive, December 2010, p. 2(and embedded here in
Nicholas Johnson, "Commercializing Non-Commercial Radio," November 19, 2010).
For an earlier, wide-ranging exploration of educational radio's early history and role in Iowa, and the cancellation of "Live From Prairie Lights," see Nicholas Johnson, "Public Radio's Self-Inflicted Wounds," November 11-21, 2008, and in the context of today's blog entry, "I never had that many conversations with Richard Nixon. He was not my favorite president. But I recall, in connection with [today's blog], an insight of his that stuck with me over the years. We were talking about media power in general, and public broadcasting in particular, when he said, 'Do you realize that I can reach more people from the smallest radio station in Mississippi than if I were to speak in the local [Washington, D.C., football] stadium?'

"It influenced my accepting invitations to appear as a guest on what were then the TV networks' late night talk shows. In order to reach as many people as would see one of those shows, I calculated, I'd need to speak to a room-full of people at 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and every hour throughout the day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year -- for three hundred years!")
You want an example of one of those "monumental consequences"?

Look no farther than the current war on faculty sabbaticals.

I don't blame the critics. And changing the name from "sabbaticals" to the universities' current effort at public relations, "professional development assignments," doesn't solve the problem.

It's up to the universities to explain to Iowans what we do, how it benefits them, and how little those who aren't attending the schools are paying for it (because of research grants and other outside support). Even those who are receiving an education in exchange for tuition are getting a bargain -- compared with the cost of an equivalent education at many American public and private schools.

Less than half adult Iowans between the ages of 25 and 34 hold a college degree. And not all of those individuals came away from the experience with enthusiasm for all of their professors.

Far more Iowans are unemployed, part time employed, under employed, paid minimum wage, non-union, or otherwise failing to enjoy the life of a university professor. It is understandable how, without more, it would be difficult for them to understand why the UI football coach should be paid in the millions for providing seven afternoons of entertainment a year for the benefit of those who can afford the "contribution" that enables them to buy season tickets -- let alone to drink while watching the games from luxurious corporate "skyboxes." It's difficult to understand why a university requires so many administrators paid well up in six figures -- with some faculty not far behind.

At a minimum, they would share former UI President David Skorton's acknowledgment that, “When the median family income in Iowa is around $45,000 and I make over $300,000, it’s hard to argue that is not a lot of money. It’s very generous.” Nicholas Johnson, "Pricey Presidents' Added Cost," Daily Iowan, March 7, 2006.

When Iowa legislators and their constituents are then told that "sabbatical" is nothing more than academic-speak for a well-paid faculty member's Hawaiian beach vacation, a negative reaction is understandable.

Indeed, as the Press-Citizen headlined this morning, B.A. Morelli, "Sabbatical Vote By Regents May Draw Backlash," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 13, 2010, p. 1: "The regents vote [authorizing the sabbatical grants to continue] could wind up in the long run hurting the universities, which are trying to regain stability after a series of budget cuts that were among the most severe in the nation."

As Regent Bob Downer said before the Regents' meeting, "the regents need to do a better job explaining the purpose and value of sabbaticals to the public."

The United Negro College Fund's slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," comes to mind.

I enjoy the news and diversionary entertainment from the radio stations of Iowa's three State universities -- now transferred to IPR -- as much as anyone.

But when the people of Iowa, and their elected representatives, don't understand what those stations' licensees are contributing to each and every Iowan, when they haven't been told the thousands of stories about those benefits -- and the relationship of sabbaticals to those benefits -- we can also say that "a statewide radio network is also a terrible thing to waste."

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
# # #

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wikileaks Random Thoughts & Comments

December 8, 2010, 6:00 a.m.; December 9, 2010, 9:00 a.m. [additions to section: "Heavy handed use and abuse of government power"]; December 10, 2010, 8:00 a.m. [addition of new section: "Much world opinion ridicules, makes U.S. Government laughing stock, for its response"]

Sorting Through the Issues
(bought to you by*)

And see the earlier, Nicholas Johnson, "Wikileaks In Its Own Words," December 3, 2010 (and yesterday's earlier, but unrelated, Nicholas Johnson, "Downtowns' Future: 'Shop Locally' Column & Dialogue," December 7, 2010).

Note: Printed, this 5000-plus word blog entry (plus embedded videos) runs 12-20 printed pages, depending on formatting. Although it's designed to be read from start to finish, it is also broken down under a number of headings in bold, below, if you care to link to one or more of them:
How harmful are Wikileaks' leaks?

Have Wikileaks in general, and Julian Assange in particular, violated U.S. law?

America's commitment to openness.

The Progressive case.

If harm there be, who is most responsible, and who has done the most harm?

Heavy handed government use and abuse of power.

Much world opinion ridicules, makes U.S. Government laughing stock, for its response.

The Swedish charges.

The ever-popular Will Rogers (1879-1935) used to start his stand-up from the stage with the line, "All I know is what I read in the papers."

Will Rogers' popularity -- not to mention his ability with a rope -- eludes me. But I share his dependence on the media when it comes to Wikileaks.

Useful collections of media and other sources about Wikileaks are the New York Times' "Times Topics: Wikileaks," and the "WL Central: An unofficial WikiLeaks information resource."

More needs to be said about Wikileaks.

There's just so much at stake. National security, yes. What the U.S. government did, and failed to do, that made Wikileaks possible, yes. The implications for the privacy of each of us who uses the Internet, a privacy that we agonize about hanging onto as corporations and governments sing in chorus, to Simon and Garfunkel's tune, "We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files."

But interwoven with legitimate national security concerns are equally legitimate concerns about freedom of speech and press, and the challenges confronting ordinary citizens. After all, if we who would like to participate meaningfully in what is supposed to be our self-governing democracy are to do so, we simply must have information about what our government is up to in our name. And those who run our government sometimes conclude it is in their interests and ours to keep that information from us.

How harmful are Wikileaks' leaks?

Attacking Wikileaks has provided a mother load of publicity for politicians. Senator Joe Lieberman says those responsible have "blood on their hands." Senator John Kerry says what they've done "jeopardizes lives." Congressman Peter King thinks it "presents a clear and present danger to national security" and wants the group designated a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." Secretary of State Clinton says she is "taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information." (All quotes from, Toby Harnden, "WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton states WikiLeaks release is 'an attack,'" The Telegraph, November 29, 2010.)

On the other hand, someone who may have the most at stake in this fight, "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said descriptions of the potential harm from secret diplomatic cables posted online by are 'significantly overwrought' and the disclosures will have a 'fairly modest' impact on foreign policy. 'The fact is governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest -- not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets,' Gates said at a Pentagon news conference today. 'Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.'” Viola Gienger and Flavia Krause-Jackson, "WikiLeaks' Postings to Have `Modest' Impact on Foreign Policy, Gates Says," Bloomberg, November 30, 2010.

Watch the video:

Have Wikileaks in general, and Julian Assange in particular, violated U.S. law?

As I write this, the Department of Justice has yet to provide a public answer to that question. The answer turns, at least in part, on what Wikileaks has done. So far, no one who has really researched the law has seen fit to charge them with anything. And even if, or when, they are charged they are, of course, entitled to the American "innocent until proven guilty."

Someone who breaks into a governrment office (or computer) in the dead of night and "steals," to use Secretary Clinton's word, properly classified government documents has violated the law. Moreover, someone who has authorized access to those documents, but exceeds their authority by taking them -- whether or not they pass them along to someone else -- has also violated the law.

I have so far read nothing to suggest that Assange, or other officers of Wikileaks (if Wikileaks has officers), has engaged in either. Nor, so far as I know have they been charged with either -- except in the undocumented assertions of politicians.

Let us assume hypothetically for a moment that others, perhaps even others whose identity was unknown to Wikileaks, were the ones who obtained, and passed along to Wikileaks the documents in question. This would be the modern day, electronic equivalent of what used to be government documents in a plain brown envelope thrown over the transom into the newsroom of a newspaper. And the U.S. law (which I will discuss here shortly) is fairly clear in finding that First Amendment values usually trump whatever privacy interests the government may have in keeping that information secret. The government may successfully prosecute the person who initially and illegally obtained the documents, if that person can be found. But it cannot get an injunction to prevent the publication by the innocent third party who received them nor prosecute them after the fact.

So we have initial threshold questions here, the answers to which have explosive consequences. Was anyone who was a "member" of, or on the payroll of, Wikileaks, involved in the initial illegal acquisition of the documents? Even if not, should Wikileaks -- and other Web sites, blogs (and what used to be called "underground newspapers") performing a journalistic function -- be entitled to the same First Amendment protections courts would accord to your hometown newspaper or TV station?

The Espionage Act of 1917, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §793, is of almost no help in resolving the factual questions just mentioned. It's not much more help on the legal questions. It's an old WWI statute, seldom used, and modified in some respects over the years by Supreme Court decisions. It clearly is not primarily and precisely designed to cover a Wikileaks' phenomenon (not the least because computers and the Internet were not contemplated by the drafters). Here are some of this section's provisions:
(a) Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard . . .. [None of that language in the first sub-section sounds like what Wikileaks has been up to.]

(b) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint . . .. [Ditto; but note, it also ultimately gets around to mentioning "document, writing."]

(c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter [This is getting closer; does include "document, writing," but the focus on "espionage" in the name and description off offenses still seems to be basically unrelated to whatever Wikileaks may or may not have done.]

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of,. . . the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it [emphasis supplied; this is presumably aimed at government employees with clearance]

(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of [and then similar to (d); emphasis supplied]
America's commitment to openness

None of what follows in this section is a "legal opinion," for a variety of reasons.

Nor is it provided as some kind of defense for whatever Wikileaks is found to have done. Most of the statutes and cases are easily distinguishable on their facts from Wikileaks.

What's provided here is simply by way of providing an overview of a general presumption in this country that openness and transparency, especially from government, is better than secrecy. It is our "default position" -- unless there is some really, really good reason for not doing so, we presume that agency meetings and government files are open to the public.

The Brits, by contrast, approach it from the opposite direction. Their presumption, as embodied in the name of their act ("The Official Secrets Act") is that the Crown does have official secrets, that it intends to protect them, and that all government documents are secret unless there's an exception that makes them available to the public and media.

"In 1643 the British parliament enacted a law conferring on a Committee of Examinations the power 'to regulate printing: that no book, pamphlet, or paper shall be henceforth printed, unless the same be first approved and licensed' . . .." Edwin Knoll,"The 'Secret' Revealed," The Progressive, November 1979, p. 1

Similarly, the "Official Secrets Act 1911 [made it] a criminal offence to disclose any official information without lawful authority." "A Basic Guide to Official Secrets Act 1989." And see, "Official Secrets Act 1989,",

Here are some examples of the U.S. approach.

The Freedom of Information Act of 1966, 5 U.S.C. §552, sets forth the default position with regard to the public's access to federal agency records: "each agency, upon any request for records which (i) reasonably describes such records and (ii) is made in accordance with published rules stating the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed, shall make the records promptly available to any person." §552 (a)(3)(A).

That's the "general rule," for which there are exceptions. Subsection (b)(1) provides: "This section does not apply to matters that are - (1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order; [This is why the FOIA is of little to no help for whoever actually took the cables and other documents initially.]

Subsection (b)(5) excludes "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which
would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency" -- a provision that might cover State Department cables.

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC §552a, is what gives us the right to find out that "little bit about you" the government has in its files: "(d) Access to records. Each agency that maintains a system of records shall--(1) upon request by any individual to gain access to his record or to any information pertaining to him which is contained in the system, permit him and upon his request, a person of his own choosing to accompany him, to review the record and have a copy made . . .."

The Open Meetings Law, 5 U.S.C. §552b, gives the public and media the right to attend the meetings of federal agencies: "Except as provided in subsection (c), every portion of every meeting of an agency shall be open to public observation." §552b(b)

The same spirit carries over into Supreme Court decisions in which the First Amendment trumps the government's interest in secrecy.

A case often referred to as relevant to Wikileaks is New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971) (more commonly referred to as the "Pentagon Papers case"). Because many of the justices wrote separately, the nine of them ended up writing 10 opinions.

The "Court's opinion," a brief "per curiam" statement, said, "[T]he United States seeks to enjoin the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing the contents of a classified study entitled 'History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policy.' 'Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.' . . . The Government 'thus carries a heavy burden of showing justification for the imposition of such a restraint.' . . . [T]he Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the Washington Post case held that the Government had not met that burden. We agree."

This opinion is not dispositive of the Wikileaks case. (a) It is not yet clear that Wikileaks is the legal equivalent of the Washington Post. (b) The government was attempting to enjoin, to prevent, the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" by the Post, called "prior restraint." Because the Justice Department has yet to charge Assange or Wikileaks with any crime at this point, we can't know what it will do. But it seems more likely it will try to punish them for what has been done, after the fact, rather than trying to prevent future releases.

Nonetheless, it is a pretty strong statement by the U.S. Supreme Court that there are First Amendment values at stake even when government secrets are being published.

In some ways, the facts of Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469 (1975), come even closer to those in Wikileaks than do those in the "Pentagon Papers" case. It involved post-publication consequences for the media, rather than "prior restraint." And the TV reporter involved would seem to have rather clearly violated a statute prohibiting the publication of what the station put on the air -- albeit a state, rather than a federal, statute.

Georgia had a statute that provides, "It shall be unlawful for any news media . . . to . . . publish, broadcast, televise, or disseminate . . . the name or identity of any female who may have been raped . . .." p. 471. The father of a deceased rape victim sued an Atlanta TV station for an invasion of his privacy, because its reporter obtained and broadcast the name of the daughter -- in violation of the Georgia statute. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Georgia courts' decision for the father.

Because the reporter had obtained the name from an official court record, said the Court, "Under these circumstances, the protection of freedom of the press provided by the First and Fourteenth Amendments bars the State of Georgia from making appellants' broadcast the basis of civil liability." pp. 468-69.

Interestingly (though not legally relevant), in the context of Wikileaks, is the Court's observation that, "Because the gravamen of the claimed injury is the publication of information, whether true or not, the dissemination of which is embarrassing or otherwise painful to an individual, it is here that claims of privacy most directly confront the constitutional freedoms of speech and press." (emphasis supplied) p. 489.

In some ways Cox is the opposite of Wikileaks -- which may be found to have First Amendment protection against being punished for what it published, even though the material was obtained illegally in the first instance (as in the "Pentagon Papers" case). Because in the Cox case the material was obtained legally in the first instance (the Court held), but it was the publication that violated the Georgia law (a law the Court found could not be applied constitutionally in these circumstances).

The point is not that any of these statutes or court decisions (or more that could be found) exonerate Wikileaks of any and all responsibility. Most are not, as we say, "on point." What they do illustrate is the commitment of the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court to give considerable deference to our First Amendment values -- even over the objections of the U.S. Executive Branch.

Perhaps even more persuasive are the views of Floyd Abrams, among the country's most preeminent First Amendment lawyers, and advocate for some of America's largest corporations as senior partner in the respected Wall Street law firm, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, and named by the National Law Journal as one of the "100 most influential lawyers in America". Relevant in this context, in addition to his having been given virtually every award for which he could conceivably be eligible, is his having served on the Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Defense in 2003-4.

In short, Floyd Abrams is no radical supporter of terrorists and criminals.

Asked if what Wikileaks does is protected by the First Amendment, Abrams responded, "I think most of what they do would be."

Asked if the government could shut down Wikileaks, he said:
We can have criminal sanctions for people who leak the information, if they can find out . . . who the leaker is, but in terms of the publisher — the disseminator — to the public, absent a situation where you’re talking about atomic weapons or secret secrets where the publication will imminently threaten the country or its people, I don’t see much, and I don’t think there should be much in the law that really provides remedies to stop publication, and the technology makes it all but impossible anyway. (emphasis supplied)
Ashby Jones, "First Amendment Guru Floyd Abrams on the WikiLeaks Situation," Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2010.

Watch the interview:

The Progressive case.

In November 1979 Edwin Knoll, editor of The Progressive magazine in Madison, Wisconsin, chose to publish "the secret" of the atomic bomb. "The H-bomb secret; How we got it -- why we're telling it" -- an article by Howard Morland.

As Knoll explained, "He [Morland] undertook the project on assignment from The Progressive to demonstrate that official secrecy in this area serves no useful public purpose." p. 4.

Morland begins, ""What you are about to learn is a secret . . . [regarding] the coupling mechanism [that triggers] hydrogen fusion. [One sentence of explanation.] That, within the limits of a single sentence . . . I discovered . . . simply by reading and asking questions, without the benefit of security clearance or access to classified materials." Howard Morland, "The H-bomb secret; To know how is to ask why," pp. 3-12. As he asserts, "[Secrecy has] served since the dawn of the atomic age to shield nuclear weapons policies from public scrutiny and debate, giving an advantage to those who formulate the policies and have a stake in their perpetuation." p. 4.

In this case, a Federal District Judge actually did enter a prior restraint on publication against The Progressive, although it was ultimately overturned in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

"We could have simply and quietly acceded to the Government's demand for censorship on grounds of 'national security' -- as other publications have," Knoll wrote. "We refused. . . . The reason should be obvious: When the State imposes prior restraint, it places its own conduct beyond public scrutiny; it deprives the citizenry of its right to form an independent judgment as to the justice or injustice of its conduct." Edwin Knoll,"The 'Secret' Revealed," p. 1.

This is, of course, very close to what appears to be similar to Julian Assange's thinking and motive. Indeed, it is possible there are some lawyers in today's Department of Justice who respond similarly to those charged with prosecuting The Progressive.

"[W]e began hearing rumors about disaffection in the Justice Department's ranks. . . . [A] majority of the Department's lawyers working on the case had urged Attorney General Griffin Bell to drop it . . . a reluctant lawyer serving a stubborn and vindictive client -- the Department of Energy." Erwin Knoll, "Wrestling with leviathan; The Progressive knew it would win," p. 13.

Knoll even finds support from Albert Einstein and Dr. Edward Teller.

"[A]tomic energy [is] the most revolutionary force since . . . fire. . . . [T]here is no secret and there is no defense . . .. We scientists [have an] inescapable responsibility to [provide] an understanding of the simple facts . . . and its implications . . ..[W]e believe that an informed citizenry will act for life and not death." Albert Einstein, "Letter," January 22, 1947, The Progressive, p. 6

"[C]lassification of technical information impedes its flow within our own system, and may easily do far more harm than good by stifling critical discussion and review or by engendering frustration." Pentagon "Task Force on Secrecy," a group that included Dr. Edward Teller, "Father of the H-bomb." The Progressive, p. 10.

Does the harm caused by Assange -- what our Secretary of Defense has described as "fairly modest" consequences -- rival sharing "the secret" of the H-bomb in a magazine of general circulation? One would think so. Of course, once again there are distinctions when comparing The Progressive H-bomb issue and the Wikileaks operation. (1) The whole point of Morland's adventure was to show that there was no secret, that he could obtain the information he had from public libraries and many individuals quite willing to talk. Indeed, he said he did not see, let alone possess, any classified documents. (2) There was a federal judge willing to impose a prior restraint on its publication. The subsequent modification was grounded more in the futility of continued restraint (since much of the information had by then been revealed in other publications as well) than in any reversal of the judgment that if ever there was a case warranting prior restraint it was this one.

If harm there be, who is most responsible, and who has done the most harm?

This is a classic case of not even locking the barn door after the horses were stolen -- and then blaming a small boy for trying to ride one, injuring himself, the horse, and a neighbor's garden. Perhaps a better analogy would be an adult forgetting to lock the chain link fence gate to the swimming pool, and then blaming a drowning on the young ring leader who encouraged his buddies to take a swim.

You know who's responsible for any adverse consequences that flow from these formerly confidential cables that are now in the public domain? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yes, I know, she's not personally responsible on a daily, hands-on basis for the operation of the State Department's Information Technology operations. But the buck stops with her.

With all the recent emphasis on terrorism, national security, cyber crime and cyber warfare, and the efforts to improve communication over the "stovepipe" system our intelligence agencies had pre-9/11, it's not unreasonable to suggest that the possibility something like the Wikileaks phenomenon should have been blinking on her radar. Continuing to make all these cables available to 600,000 or more individuals was not a really swift thing to do.

It remains to be seen, if some one individual really has suffered harm as a result of these disclosures, whether the United States Government could be found to have some responsibility for this negligence.

After writing this, I discover that at least one Australian cabinet member agrees:
Mr [Kevin] Rudd, now the [Australian] foreign minister, said that Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who founded the website and is now in custody in Britain, was not to blame for the damaging leaks . . ..

"Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network," Mr Rudd said, in comments that depart from Prime Minister Julia Gillard's statement that Mr Assange's actions were irresponsible and illegal.

"The Americans are responsible for that. I think there are real questions to be asked about the adequacy of their security systems and the level of access that people have had to that material over a long period of time."

"The core responsibility, and therefore legal liability, goes to those individuals responsible for that initial unauthorised release," he said.

Mr Rudd's comments echo those of another former Australian prime minister, John Howard, who said Mr Assange had not done anything wrong by publishing cables that contained "frank commentary".
Bonnie Malkin, "Wikileaks: Kevin Rudd blames US for release of diplomatic cables," The Telegraph, December 8, 2010.

Finally, once the State Department's Swiss cheese cyber security leaked these documents, if harm was done who did the most of it?

Isn't it obvious? How many of Wikileaks' documents have you read on some Wikileaks' Web site? I don't know about you, but I haven't read any of them there.

Where I've read them is in the world's newspapers: Le Monde in Paris, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain, Der Spiegel in Germany, and The New York Times here in the U.S. Don't you imagine that's where most of those following this story -- including the community of international diplomats, are learning (and concerned) about the now-public cables?

I'm with Floyd Abrams. I don't think those papers should be presented with prior restraint orders, or their editors and reporters threatened with prison terms. Nor do I know of anyone else who is suggesting that (there though may be someone).

What I do find just a mite hypocritical is the myopic and exclusive focus of the American executive branch, and politicians, on beating up Wikileaks in general, and Julian Assange in particular -- up to and including a call for his assassination -- while uttering nary a whisper about the orders of magnitude greater significance of the role played by some of the world's greatest newspapers.

Heavy handed government use and abuse of power.

Finally, we have been witnessing a greater and greater reliance of government on private industry to do for government that which government might be constitutionally prohibited from doing.

Access to bank, phone and library records come immediately to mind.

Bear in mind Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, living in England. He has not even been charged by our government with anything at this point, let alone convicted. And yet it seems reasonable to assume that the decisions by, among others, Amazon, Pay Pal, Mastercard and Visa to cripple Assange's operations are almost certainly the result of pressure from our government.

See this morning's [Dec. 9] Guardian review, update, and reports of the backlash against those companies. Esther Addley and Josh Halliday, "WikiLeaks supporters disrupt Visa and MasterCard sites in 'Operation Payback'; MasterCard and Visa attacked after restricting dealings with WikiLeaks – and hackers say Twitter is next," The Guardian, December 9, 2010. The authors report, among other things,
Visa . . . forced a small IT firm which facilitates transfers made by credit cards including Visa and MasterCard, and has processed payments to WikiLeaks, to suspend all of its transactions – even those involving other payees. Visa had already cut off all donations being made through the firm to WikiLeaks.

[The firm,] DataCell, based in Iceland, said it would take "immediate legal action" and warned that the powerful "duopoly" of Visa and MasterCard could spell "the end of the credit card business worldwide". Andreas Fink, its chief executive, said: "Putting all payments on hold for seven days or more is one thing, but rejecting all further attempts to donate is making the donations impossible.

"This does clearly create massive financial losses to WikiLeaks, which seems to be the only purpose of this suspension. This is not about the brand of Visa, this is about politics and Visa should not be involved in this … It is obvious that Visa is under political pressure to close us down."
There are serious issues here. "Common carriers" -- the railroads, power companies, the old AT&T monopoly -- were required to provide service to everyone on the same terms. Visa is not just a domestic, U.S., "financial common carrier," it is a "global financial common carrier."

Businesses have a right, within limits, to have and enforce "terms of service." But when southern restaurants and hotels maintained for years as part of their terms of service that African-Americans would not be provided any service Congress ultimately passed the Public Accommodations Act. (See, e.g., "Civil Rights Act of 1964,"

Whether organizations with the global financial power of a Visa refuse service to a user on the basis of the personal beliefs and whims of their officers and directors, or because of pressure from a government, I think DataCell has a point.

Why did PayPal cut off Wikileaks? "PayPal . . . says that it reviewed its policies regarding WikiLeaks after the U.S. Department of State publicized a letter stating that WikiLeaks may be in possession of documents that were provided in violation of U.S. law. . . . 'We restricted the account . . . ultimately . . . based on a belief that the WikiLeaks website was encouraging sources to release classified material, which is likely a violation of law by the source.'” Tricia Duryee, "PayPal Releases Funds to WikiLeaks as Supporters Strike Back," Yahoo!Finance, December 8, 2010.

Putting aside the vague "may be in possession" and "likely a violation," if "possession" of documents "provided" by the original "source" in actual violation of law is PayPal, and other financial institutions' standard for bowing to heavy handed government pressure, does that mean that Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal are going to cut off the New York Times and any and all editors and reporters who once possessed these documents in the course of writing their stories?

This is not a company complying with a court order. This is a company bowing to vague threats from a government regarding an organization or person the government doesn't like.

Ah, but let's complete the circle. As The Guardian reports this morning, that very same government is in a position to provide a lot of assistance to Visa -- and every other American corporation -- or not. In this case it already has. Luke Harding and Tom Parfitt, "WikiLeaks cables: US 'lobbied Russia on behalf of Visa and MasterCard'; US diplomats intervened to try to amend draft law so that it would not 'disadvantage' US credit card firms, cable says," The Guardian, December 8, 2010 ("A state department cable released this afternoon by WikiLeaks reveals that US diplomats intervened to try to amend a draft law going through Russia's duma, or lower house of parliament. Their explicit aim was to ensure the new law did not 'disadvantage' the two US companies, the cable states.").

It's certainly understandable why both Visa and the U.S. Government would like to continue to keep any stories about that cable from the American people. And it's also understandable why the Government might judge Visa to be ungrateful in the extreme -- given what the Government does for Visa from time to time -- if Visa were to refuse to cut off one of its customers just because the Government can't seem to come up with any legal theory, and hasn't charged, let alone convicted, Wikileaks of anything.

Gates says "governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest -- not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets." The same thing is true of American corporations. They knuckle under to government pressure "because it's in their interest." They have a lot at stake: potential antitrust violations, income tax audits, pending government contracts, earmarks and tax breaks -- and now we discover, diplomats lobbying foreign governments on their behalf. Compared to that, what are a few civil liberties violations?

Many believe the resuscitation of the bizarre Swedish case against Assange (after an apparent dismissal in September), and the speed with which it is now being handled, is another consequence of U.S. government muscle.

Even if you are among those who believe Assange should be tried and locked up in prison -- or worse -- you might want to think twice about applauding these actions by our government, if such they be.

Much world opinion ridicules, makes U.S. Government laughing stock, for its response

Much of the rest of the world is having great fun at America's expense over what is seen as a hypocritical, excessive response to Wikileaks.

One of the most dramatic reactions was that of Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera. He has simply posted on his official Web site all of the leaked cables having to do with his country. "Bolivia Hosts WikiLeaks 'Mirror,'" Associated Press/Google Hosted News, December 9, 2010.

The Guardian thinks our Government's response has been "vicious" and "tipping over toward derangement." It turns Secretary of State Clinton's earlier speech complaining of China's attacks on Google into "a satirical masterpiece." (She had said, among other things, "information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”) The Financial Times Deutschland says, "no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”

Steven Erlanger, "Europeans Criticize Fierce U.S. Response to Leaks," New York Times, December 10, 2010, p. A12 (For many Europeans, Washington’s fierce reaction to . . . WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, [and an] obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles. . . . American officials . . . have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” . . . “an attack against the international community” . . .[and] “anti-American operative with blood on his hands” . . .. [The Guardian thinks the official reaction] "is tipping over toward derangement . . .. Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free" . . . [a] "vicious, coordinated" [response].)

"The venomous furor surrounding WikiLeaks, including charges of “terrorism” and calls for the assassination of Julian Assange, has to rank as one of the biggest temper tantrums in recent years. . . . But stamping feet and lashing out at Assange is simply misdirected anger. . . . [T]he means to engage in cyber espionage have expanded dramatically because of the shift to networked infrastructures and social networking habits. . . . Cyberspace has brought us the world of do-it-yourself signals intelligence." Ron Diebert, "What Has WikiLeaks Started? The Post-Cablegate Era," New York Times, December 10, 2010. (Diebert is the Director, Canada Center for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.)

The Swedish charges.

There are so many allegations being thrown about with regard to what Assange did or did not do with one or more women in Sweden, and whether whatever it was is, or should be, a crime, that it's very hard to sort it all out.

It does seem to be a bizarre case, the timing of which opens it to understandable suspicion that it is being handled in ways -- indeed handled at all -- in response to pressure from the U.S. government.

The case has certainly well served what may have been our government's purpose -- to create an ad hominem diversion that could turn global media coverage of its embarrassing cables into a "sex story." What I'm about to quote reports that well over half the media coverage of Wikileaks/Assange now focuses on the Swedish charges.

I do not, because I cannot -- how would I know? -- vouch for the accuracy of the following story. It may simply be as much misinformation from one side as our government seems to be creating with its propaganda from the other. You're going to have to be the judge.
I've spent much of my professional life as a psychiatrist helping women (and men) who are survivors of sexual violence. Rape is a hideous crime. Yet in Assange's case his alleged victim, the gender equity officer at Uppsula University, chose to throw a party for her alleged assailant after they'd had the sex that even Swedish prosecutors concede was consensual. [Former Julian Assange Melbourne] Barrister [James D.] Caitlin again:
[The] phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the "crimes" .

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange's honour at her flat after the "crime" and tweeted to her followers that she is with the "the world's coolest smartest people, it's amazing!". Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén's mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Neither Wilén's nor Ardin's texts complain of rape.
Small world, isn't it? Julian Assange is the human face of Wikileaks the organization that's enabled whistle-blowers to reveal hideous war crimes and expose much of America's foreign policy to the world.

He just happens to meet a Swedish woman who just happens to have been publishing her work in a well-funded anti-Castro group that just happens to have links with a group led by a man at least one journalist describes as an agent of the CIA: the violent secret arm of America's foreign policy.

And she just happens to have been expelled from Cuba, which just happens to be the global symbol of successful defiance of American foreign policy.

And despite her work in Sweden upholding the human right of gender equity in Cuba she just happens to end up associating with a group openly supported by an admitted CIA agent who himself committed mass murder when he actively participated in the terrorist bombing of a jetliner carrying a Cuban sports team"an act that was of a piece with America's secret foreign policy of violent attacks against Cuban state interests.

And now she just happens after admittedly consensual sex to have gone to Swedish authorities to report the sex ended without a condom" which just happens to be the pretext for Interpol to issue a "Red Notice" informing the world's police forces of charges against Julian Assange.

Who just happens to be the man America's political class the people who run America's foreign policy have been trying to silence. And who happens to be the man some of them have been calling to have murdered.

With a lust for vengeance like that, one could be forgiven for concluding they've just happened to have taken a page from Anna's revenge manual.
Kirk James Murphy, M.D., "Assange Accuser Worked with US-Funded, CIA-Tied Anti-Castro Group," OpEd News, December 5, 2010.

And see especially, James D. Catlin [Melbourne barrister who acted for Julian Assange in London in October], "When it comes to Assange rape case, the Swedes are making it up as they go along," Crikey ["Crikey is Australian for independent journalism"], December 2, 2010 (e.g., "Their [the women's] SMS texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen beforehand in order to maximise the damage to Assange. They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them.").


* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
# # #

Downtowns' Future: 'Shop Locally' Column & Dialogue

December 7, 9:00 a.m.

Making "Shop Locally" a Meaningful Suggestion
(bought to you by*)

Note: A couple of weeks ago, Nicholas Johnson, "'Buy Locally'? Good Luck," November 24, 2010, appeared here as a blog entry. Friday a version appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen as an op ed column. Although the Press-Citizen has a readership multiples of that of this blog, because the blog has readers throughout this and other countries that are not Press-Citizen readers, and the subject is one of interest to many communities, business people, and city planners elsewhere, I thought it worth reproducing here.

Moreover, it produced a significant (by Press-Citizen's standards) number of comments about the column in the newspaper's online edition. So some of my online responses to those comments are also included in this blog entry, below, following the column.

"Downtowns" in communities all around the world used to be city centers -- a place where citizens gathered to shop, meet, chat and eat. Increasingly, for a variety of reasons, as cities grow in size suburban shopping malls have assumed many of those functions.

Can old downtowns apply a fresh coat of paint and once again become the "malls" of their metropolitan areas? "Shop locally" campaigns are an effort in that direction. They encourage citizen shoppers to assume a patriotic obligation to shop downtown even though the products cost more than in the big box stories, the stores are not clustered in one place, and the absence of parking (or its provision in expensive parking "ramps") makes the experience less convenient and pleasant.

I argue (in one of the comments) that downtowns need to reinvent themselves, rather than try to recreate the economic and social role they played 80 years ago.

But even if a "shop locally" campaign is thought wise, we need to know what we're talking about. How much of the money we spend in local stores actually stays, and circulates, throughout the local economy? What do we need to do to keep more of it in our home towns?

# # #

Making 'Shop Locally' a Meaningful Suggestion
Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen
December 3, 2010, p. A9

Many local businesses become profitable, "go into the black," the day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday"). If it weren't for our purchases from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, many wouldn't be around in 2011.

So the Press-Citizen Editorial Board is urging us to "shop locally."

But what does "buy local" mean?

To analyze in detail what happens to each portion of the dollars we spend in Johnson County establishments would require more data and degrees in economics than most of us would ever have or want.

• Raw materials. We cannot control the portion of what we pay that goes for raw materials, or where they come from -- such as iron or aluminum ore. (China controls over 90 percent of the rare earth minerals in cell phones and electronic products.) An exception would be locally produced foods at our farmers markets. (Although even farmers may import seeds or fertilizer.)

• Manufacturing. What portion of what we pay for products "bought locally" goes to manufacturers in the U.S., let alone Iowa City? Almost none, except for local artists and artisans -- who may use brushes and metals from elsewhere.

• Packaging, transportation and warehousing. What portion goes for packing and shipping? The worker who made your cold cereal box earned a larger share of what you paid than the farmer who grew the grain -- and neither of them lives here. That's true for most of the packaged products we "buy locally."

• Rent and utilities. A portion of what's embedded in the price we pay are things like rent and utilities. Last I knew MidAmerican Energy was owned in significant part by Warren Buffet. Mediacom is owned by some guy in New York. The portion of our "local purchase" that we, or a local business, promptly sends out of state does little for our local economy.

• Franchises; national chains. How large a portion of the price of anything at Best Buy stays in Coralville, rather than going to corporate headquarters? Why, and by how much, is that better than an online Best Buy purchase? How large a portion of our "buy local" money do other "local businesses" send to the remote corporate headquarters of national chain restaurants, retail outlets and motels?

• "Local" owners. Whether a stand-alone business, or a franchise, how "local" is the owner or manager? Do they spend the profits here -- or invest in a distant mutual fund? Or have they long since retired to Arizona or Florida, and spend there?

• Workers' pay and benefits. Finally, how much of what you're spending when you "buy local" is actually ending up in the pockets of the workers in that establishment? Does the owner pay a "livable wage"? If you want your money to circulate as fast as possible locally, giving more of it to local workers is the answer.

There also can be other-than-economic benefits of "buy local," in quality, environmentally, socially and healthier foods.

So, what should the Press-Citizen Editorial Board do if it's really serious about its "shop locally" campaign?

Get real. Get specific. Give us the information we need to fall in step, intelligently and meaningfully, behind its drum major. Do the research and give us the answers to the dozens of questions, such as, "what's the difference, in terms of what stays in the local economy, between buying a hamburger at Hamburg Inn No. 2 and at McDonalds?" Tell us how much of our merchants' rent money leaves town.

If the Press-Citizen would give us the tools -- the precision tools -- we need, I and a lot of other local citizens would be willing to do the job.

Without the tools, "shop locally" is just a rousing bumper sticker of a slogan, and, as Tom Joad says to the filling station attendant in "Grapes of Wrath": "You're jus' singin' a kinda song."
Nicholas Johnson, a former FCC commissioner, teaches at the University of Iowa College of Law and maintains and

# # #

The Dialog

Note: Out of respect for the anonymous authors, their comments have not been reproduced here in full, nor have their identities been revealed when known. When my response does not clearly identify the points they made, they have been summarized in brackets. The dates and times are automatically inserted by the Press-Citizen when the comment is posted.

[1] Random responses:

1. dowell. (a) "It isn't where all the materials come from." Right. My point was an appeal for precision. When you give a local merchant $1000 for a product you haven't put $1000 into the local economy. So, how much does stay here? (b) "Makes shopping seem more fun." Agreed. As I say, "There also can be other-than-economic benefits of 'buy local'"

2. Nospinatall. "Shop geographically local [supports] local employment [and] our local economy." Absolutely. As I wrote, "If you want your money to circulate . . . locally, giving more of it to local workers is the answer."

3. haddonm. I like your three categories of "buy local" (and agree with your 1, 2, 3 ordering). ["1. Buying something produced locally from a person who is a local. . . . 2. Buying from a locally owned business that is not a franchise. . . . 3. Buying from a locally based owner operating a franchise. . . .."]

4. mariaconz. ["A lot of local employers don't pay a livable wage to their employees . . .."] Right. As I note, local owners' profits, if "invest[ed] in a distant mutual fund," don't do much for the Johnson County economy. Failure to provide workers the adequate pay that WOULD recirculate here is short sighted.

Thanks all, for reading column and for comments.

12/3/2010 11:25:20 AM

[2] My 10% "local bonus" rule.

Back in the days before computers, I could buy from afar with a catalog or newspaper ad, 800 number, credit card, and shipping. The prices were often less for me retail than local merchants could buy wholesale. My rule of thumb was a willingness to pay up to 10% more for a product locally than I could get it for elsewhere just to keep the money here. More than that I was unwilling to do.

Now, you see, I'm wondering how much of that money DID stay here.

This also raises another issue. With our easy access to a market that is now global, rather than limited to Eastern Iowa, it puts an even greater responsibility on our local merchants, of whatever stripe, to put extra effort into buying wisely for us -- with the maximum possible quality at the lowest possible cost. They have as much responsibility to "offer locally" as we have to "buy locally."
12/3/2010 11:32:04 AM

[3] "this_guy" (12/3/2010 3:23:23 PM) wonders "why the burden falls on the Press-Citizen to define and describe . . . what it means to 'shop locally' . . ." -- as I've suggested in this column.

Of course the local Chamber should contribute data. So could the Iowa Policy Project, League of Women Voters, College of Business, City planners, and numerous other citizens.

But the P-C believes in and practices "civic journalism" ("Attempting to situate newspapers and journalists as active participants in community life, rather than as detached spectators. Making a newspaper a forum for discussion of community issues."; and see Pew Center for Civic Journalism.)

Yesterday's (Dec. 4) example: Josh O'Leary's lengthy, excellent p. 1 spread ("Making Plans South of Town; Planners Outline Long-Term Expansion Goals for Iowa City").

I don't think the P-C considers civic journalism a "burden." But "this_guy" is right: it falls on all of us, not just the P-C's few remaining reporters.

12/5/2010 5:37:34 AM

[4] (1) of a multi-part reply to elliottb (12/3/2010 5:17:04 PM), capitalist-pig, OutlawThunder, haddonm, iowabridges, this_guy (12/4/2010 2:17:15 PM), elliottb (12/4/2010 4:43:24 PM), and haddonm (12/4/2010 6:01:51 PM):

All seem to recognize the fact that retail shoppers have moved from city centers to malls. haddonm considers his doing so worthy of confession. capitalist-pig says it's ideologically impure not to do so. Price seems to be a major motivation, but elliottb notes as well "one-stop shopping with much greater selection and . . . easy visible access to parking." haddonm wants to know "what would cause anyone living in Iowa City to drive to said mall," while iowabridges explains he's "not in the downtown area very often."

So urban sprawl, suburbanization, and Interstate highways combine to make increasing numbers of Americans closer to malls than downtown areas. There are limits to buy local.

The answer? Downtowns have to reinvent themselves (as ours is beginning to do).

12/5/2010 6:30:30 AM

[5] (2) of multi-part reply:

But 2010-11 is just a moment in time. Let's put this in a timeline perspective.

In the 1830s there was less trade in Johnson County. Folks grew and made much of what they needed. By the 1850s and '60s the RRs changed some of that. Recall Iowa doesn't just have 99 counties; each of those counties is filled with townships and small towns -- Lone Tree, Kalona, Hills and Joetown. They were the malls of their day.

By the 1930s and '40s, with the automobile and better roads, downtown Iowa City had become Johnson County's "mall" with the "one-stop shopping . . . selection . . . and easy visible parking" elliottb mentions. There were no parking meters or multi-level ramps. You parked in front of the stores; "double-parking" briefly if necessary. Downtown offered the 1930s version of the variety in today's Coral Ridge Mall -- barber shops, multiple movie theaters, Sears, Woolworths, hardware and clothing stores. IC had its impact on small town merchants.

12/5/2010 6:35:01 AM

[6] (3) of multi-part reply:

Today, of course, the world's people, including Americans, have access to a global mall that impacts on far more than our downtown. When downtown Iowa City was Johnson County's mall, the 140 million people living in the U.S. were American manufacturers' customer base. Competition was between American companies. Americans held jobs making stuff for other Americans.

No longer.

We're borrowing from China to buy products manufactured in China (and to provide tax breaks for the rich).

Creativity, coming up with "the next big thing" that works economically for America -- and for Iowa City's downtown -- is our challenge. Fortunately for us, the American communities best positioned to respond to that challenge born of necessity are college communities.

Because well up on that list is Iowa City.

Let's get on with it.
12/5/2010 6:41:11 AM


* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
# # #

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wikileaks In Its Own Words

December 3, 2010, 6:50 a.m.

Wikileaks Web Site Attempts Justification
(bought to you by*)

Note: And see, Nicholas Johnson, "Wikileaks Random Thoughts & Comments," December 8, 2010.

As a lawyer and law professor I certainly do not condone deliberate violations of law (leaving aside the issues surrounding "civil disobedience" for another day). As an ordinary citizen and consumer of the media, and academic focused on media law and cyberlaw, I cannot help but know about and track the global phenomenon called "Wikileaks."

Its founder, Julian Assange, is currently a hunted man on the run. The U.S. Department of Justice wants to prosecute him under the Espionage Act of 1917. Interpol has been asked to track him down. Sweden accuses him of sex crimes whenever Wikileaks is about to release more documents. It is widely suspected that the U.S. government is behind the cyberattacks on his Web servers and domain names that have temporarily put him out of business from time to time. (Shut down again late last evening, by 3:30 a.m. Wikileaks' Web site was back up and running. Ravi Somaiya and Alan Cowell, "WikiLeaks Changes Domain Name After Cyber Attacks," New York Times, December 3, 2010, to be "published" tomorrow; and Ashlee Vance, "WikiLeaks Struggles to Stay Online After Attacks," New York Times, December 4, 2010, p. A8.) And some former American officials and candidates have advocated his assassination. (E.g., Gordon Liddy: "'This fellow Anwar al-Awlaki – a joint U.S. citizen hiding out in Yemen – is on a 'kill list' [for inciting terrorism against the U.S.]. Mr. Assange should be put on the same list.'" Drew Zahn, "G. Gordon Liddy: WikiLeaks chief deserves to be on 'kill list;' Former White House adviser: 'We're not playing games here,'" World Net Daily, December 1, 2010; "Why was he [Julian Assange] not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?" Sarah Palin, "Serious Questions about the Obama Administration's Incompetence in the Wikileaks Fiasco," Facebook, November 29, 2010.)

Much of the media attention has been focused on (a) the most significant content to be found in the thousands of documents Wikileaks has released, (b) the consequences of the releases in risk to lives, U.S. national security, and the need for secret diplomacy, and (c) the pursuit and potential prosecution of Assange.

At one extreme are those who view Assange as a hero, putting himself at risk in the process of informing the world's people of what's being done in their name by their governments and other large institutions. For far more, including virtually everyone identifiable as a member of "the establishment" (however that might be defined) he is considered an irresponsible and dangerous anarchist.

Wherever you may place yourself along that continuum -- but especially if you would like to see him at least prosecuted, if not assassinated -- it seems to me the more we can know about this guy the better.

Because he has kindly made available on his Web site his explanation, or justification, for what he is doing and why, it seems to me to be important that anyone who cares about the Wikileaks phenomenon at least give themselves the benefit of reading what he's said.

I will not provide a link to the Wikileaks Web site, or do anything else to support his effort. You can find the link elsewhere if you wish. Moreover, it will probably soon (if not already) be under such severe cyberattack that the link may well go dead before you used it (following which it will pop up elsewhere).

So what I do offer to help us all better understand these folks is a reproduction of what the site provided earlier this morning under the heading of . . .

# # #

About Wikileaks

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. We are a young organisation that has grown very quickly, relying on a network of dedicated volunteers around the globe. Since 2007, when the organisation was officially launched, WikiLeaks has worked to report on and publish important information. We also develop and adapt technologies to support these activities.

WikiLeaks has sustained and triumphed against legal and political attacks designed to silence our publishing organisation, our journalists and our anonymous sources. The broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history. We derive these principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular, Article 19 inspires the work of our journalists and other volunteers. It states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We agree, and we seek to uphold this and the other Articles of the Declaration.

1.2 How WikiLeaks works

WikiLeaks has combined high-end security technologies with journalism and ethical principles. Like other media outlets conducting investigative journalism, we accept (but do not solicit) anonymous sources of information. Unlike other outlets, we provide a high security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies. This provides maximum protection to our sources. We are fearless in our efforts to get the unvarnished truth out to the public. When information comes in, our journalists analyse the material, verify it and write a news piece about it describing its significance to society. We then publish both the news story and the original material in order to enable readers to analyse the story in the context of the original source material themselves. Our news stories are in the comfortable presentation style of Wikipedia, although the two organisations are not otherwise related. Unlike Wikipedia, random readers can not edit our source documents.

As the media organisation has grown and developed, WikiLeaks been developing and improving a harm minimisation procedure. We do not censor our news, but from time to time we may remove or significantly delay the publication of some identifying details from original documents to protect life and limb of innocent people.

We accept leaked material in person and via postal drops as alternative methods, although we recommend the anonymous electronic drop box as the preferred method of submitting any material. We do not ask for material, but we make sure that if material is going to be submitted it is done securely and that the source is well protected. Because we receive so much information, and we have limited resources, it may take time to review a source's submission.

We also have a network of talented lawyers around the globe who are personally committed to the principles that WikiLeaks is based on, and who defend our media organisation.

1.3 Why the media (and particularly Wiki leaks) is important

Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society's institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals. We are part of that media.

Scrutiny requires information. Historically, information has been costly in terms of human life, human rights and economics. As a result of technical advances particularly the internet and cryptography - the risks of conveying important information can be lowered. In its landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, the US Supreme Court ruled that "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government." We agree.

We believe that it is not only the people of one country that keep their own government honest, but also the people of other countries who are watching that government through the media.

In the years leading up to the founding of WikiLeaks, we observed the world's publishing media becoming less independent and far less willing to ask the hard questions of government, corporations and other institutions. We believed this needed to change.

WikiLeaks has provided a new model of journalism. Because we are not motivated by making a profit, we work cooperatively with other publishing and media organisations around the globe, instead of following the traditional model of competing with other media. We don't hoard our information; we make the original documents available with our news stories. Readers can verify the truth of what we have reported themselves. Like a wire service, WikiLeaks reports stories that are often picked up by other media outlets. We encourage this. We believe the world's media should work together as much as possible to bring stories to a broad international readership.

1.4 How WikiLeaks verifies its news stories

We assess all news stories and test their veracity. We send a submitted document through a very detailed examination a procedure. Is it real? What elements prove it is real? Who would have the motive to fake such a document and why? We use traditional investigative journalism techniques as well as more modern rtechnology-based methods. Typically we will do a forensic analysis of the document, determine the cost of forgery, means, motive, opportunity, the claims of the apparent authoring organisation, and answer a set of other detailed questions about the document. We may also seek external verification of the document For example, for our release of the Collateral Murder video, we sent a team of journalists to Iraq to interview the victims and observers of the helicopter attack. The team obtained copies of hospital records, death certificates, eye witness statements and other corroborating evidence supporting the truth of the story. Our verification process does not mean we will never make a mistake, but so far our method has meant that WikiLeaks has correctly identified the veracity of every document it has published.

Publishing the original source material behind each of our stories is the way in which we show the public that our story is authentic. Readers don't have to take our word for it; they can see for themselves. In this way, we also support the work of other journalism organisations, for they can view and use the original documents freely as well. Other journalists may well see an angle or detail in the document that we were not aware of in the first instance. By making the documents freely available, we hope to expand analysis and comment by all the media. Most of all, we want readers know the truth so they can make up their own minds.

1.5 The people behind WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks is a project of the Sunshine Press. It's probably pretty clear by now that WikiLeaks is not a front for any intelligence agency or government despite a rumour to that effect. This rumour was started early in WikiLeaks' existence, possibly by the intelligence agencies themselves. WikiLeaks is an independent global group of people with a long standing dedication to the idea of a free press and the improved transparency in society that comes from this. The group includes accredited journalists, software programmers, network engineers, mathematicians and others.

To determine the truth of our statements on this, simply look at the evidence. By definition, intelligence agencies want to hoard information. By contrast, WikiLeaks has shown that it wants to do just the opposite. Our track record shows we go to great lengths to bring the truth to the world without fear or favour.

The great American president Thomas Jefferson once observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We believe the journalistic media plays a key role in this vigilance.

1.6 Anonymity for sources

As far as we can ascertain, WikiLeaks has never revealed any of its sources. We can not provide details about the security of our media organisation or its anonymous drop box for sources because to do so would help those who would like to compromise the security of our organisation and its sources. What we can say is that we operate a number of servers across multiple international jurisdictions and we we do not keep logs. Hence these logs can not be seized. Anonymization occurs early in the WikiLeaks network, long before information passes to our web servers. Without specialized global internet traffic analysis, multiple parts of our organisation must conspire with each other to strip submitters of their anonymity.

However, we also provide instructions on how to submit material to us, via net cafes, wireless hot spots and even the post so that even if WikiLeaks is infiltrated by an external agency, sources can still not be traced. Because sources who are of substantial political or intelligence interest may have their computers bugged or their homes fitted with hidden video cameras, we suggest that if sources are going to send WikiLeaks something very sensitive, they do so away from the home and work.

A number of governments block access to any address with WikiLeaks in the name. There are ways around this. WikiLeaks has many cover domains, such as, that don't have the organisation in the name. It is possible to write to us or ask around for other cover domain addresses. Please make sure the cryptographic certificate says .

2. WikiLeaks' journalism record

2.1 Prizes and background

WikiLeaks is the winner of:

* the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award
* the 2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award (New Media)

WikiLeaks has a history breaking major stories in major media outlets and robustly protecting sources and press freedoms. We have never revealed a source. We do not censor material. Since formation in 2007, WikiLeaks has been victorious over every legal (and illegal) attack, including those from the Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former president of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies. WikiLeaks has released more classified intelligence documents than the rest of the world press combined.

2.2 Some of the stories we have broken

* War, killings, torture and detention
* Government, trade and corporate transparency
* Suppression of free speech and a free press
* Diplomacy, spying and (counter-)intelligence
* Ecology, climate, nature and sciences
* Corruption, finance, taxes, trading
* Censorship technology and internet filtering
* Cults and other religious organizations
* Abuse, violence, violation

War, killings, torture and detention

* Changes in Guantanamo Bay SOP manual (2003-2004) - Guantanamo Bay's main operations manuals
* Of Orwell, Wikipedia and Guantanamo Bay - In where we track down and expose Guantanamo Bay's propaganda team
* Fallujah jail challenges US - Classified U.S. report into appalling prison conditions in Fallujah
* U.S lost Fallujah's info war - Classified U.S. intelligence report on the battle of Fallujah, Iraq
* US Military Equipment in Iraq (2007) - Entire unit by unit equipment list of the U.S army in Iraq
* Dili investigator called to Canberra as evidence of execution mounts - the Feb 2008 killing of East Timor rebel leader Reinado
* Como entrenar a escuadrones de la muerte y aplastar revoluciones de El Salvador a Iraq - The U.S. Special Forces manual on how to prop up unpopular government with paramilitaries

Government, trade and corporate transparency

* Change you can download: a billion in secret Congressional reports - Publication of more than 6500 Congressional Research Reports, worth more than a billion dollars of US tax-funded research, long sought after by NGOs, academics and researchers
* ACTA trade agreement negotiation lacks transparency - The secret ACTA trade agreement draft, followed by dozens of other publications, presenting the initial leak for the whole ACTA debate happening today
* Toll Collect Vertraege, 2002 - Publication of around 10.000 pages of a secret contract between the German federal government and the Toll Collect consortium, a private operator group for heavy vehicle tolling system
* Leaked documents suggest European CAP reform just a whitewash - European farm reform exposed
* Stasi still in charge of Stasi files - Suppressed 2007 investigation into infiltration of former Stasi into the Stasi files commission
* IGES Schlussbericht Private Krankenversicherung, 25 Jan 2010 - Hidden report on the economics of the German private health insurance system and its rentability

Suppression of free speech and a free press

* The Independent: Toxic Shame: Thousands injured in African city, 17 Sep 2009 - Publication of an article originally published in UK newspaper The Independent, but censored from the Independent's website. WikiLeaks has saved dozens of articles, radio and tv recordings from disappearing after having been censored from BBC, Guardian, and other major news organisations archives.
* Secret gag on UK Times preventing publication of Minton report into toxic waste dumping, 16 Sep 2009 - Publication of variations of a so-called super-injunction, one of many gag-orders published by WikiLeaks to expose successful attempts to suppress the free press via repressive legal attacks
* Media suppression order over Turks and Caicos Islands Commission of Inquiry corruption report, 20 Jul 2009 - Exposure of a press gagging order from the Turks and Caicos Islands, related to WikiLeaks exposure of the Commission of Inquiry corruption report
* Bermuda's Premier Brown and the BCC bankdraft - Brown went to the Privy council London to censor the press in Bermuda
* How German intelligence infiltrated Focus magazine - Illegal spying on German journalists

Diplomacy, spying and (counter-)intelligence

* U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks, 18 Mar 2008 - Classified (SECRET/NOFORN) 32 page U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks. Has been in the worldwide news.
* CIA report into shoring up Afghan war support in Western Europe, 11 Mar 2010 - This classified CIA analysis from March, outlines possible PR-strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. Received international news coverage in print, radio and TV.
* U.S. Embassy profiles on Icelandic PM, Foreign Minister, Ambassador - Publication of personal profiles for briefing documents for U.S. officials visiting Iceland. While lowly classified are interesting for subtle tone and internal facts.
* Cross-border clashes from Iraq O.K. - Classified documents reveal destabalizing U.S. military rules
* Tehran Warns US Forces against Chasing Suspects into Iran - Iran warns the United States over classified document on WikiLeaks
* Inside Somalia and the Union of Islamic Courts - Vital strategy documents in the Somali war and a play for Chinese support

Ecology, climate, nature and sciences

* Draft Copenhagen climate change agreement, 8 Dec 2009 - Confidential draft "circle of commitment" (rich-country) Copenhagen climate change agreement
* Draft Copenhagen Accord Dec 18, 2009 - Three page draft Copehagen "accord", from around Friday 7pm, Dec 18, 2009; includes pen-markings
* Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009 - Over 60MB of emails, documents, code and models from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, written between 1996 and 2009 that lead to a worldwide debate
* The Monju nuclear reactor leak - Three suppressed videos from Japan's fast breeder reactor Monju revealing the true extent of the 1995 sodium coolant disaster

Corruption, finance, taxes, trading

* The looting of Kenya under President Moi - $3,000,000,000 presidential corruption exposed; swung the Dec 2007 Kenyan election, long document, be patient
* Gusmao's $15m rice deal alarms UN - Rice deal corruption in East Timor
* How election violence was financed - the embargoed Kenyan Human Rights Commission report into the Jan 2008 killings of over 1,300 Kenyans
* Financial collapse: Confidential exposure analysis of 205 companies each owing above EUR45M to Icelandic bank Kaupthing, 26 Sep 2008 - Publication of a confidential report that has lead to hundreds of newspaper articles worldwide
* Barclays Bank gags Guardian over leaked memos detailing offshore tax scam, 16 Mar 2009 - Publication of censored documents revealing a number of elaborate international tax avoidance schemes by the SCM (Structured Capital Markets) division of Barclays
* Bank Julius Baer: Grand Larceny via Grand Cayman - How the largest private Swiss bank avoids paying tax to the Swiss government
* Der Fall Moonstone Trust - Cayman Islands Swiss bank trust exposed
* Over 40 billion euro in 28167 claims made against the Kaupthing Bank, 23 Jan 2010 - List of Kaupthing claimants after Icelandic banking crash
* Northern Rock vs. WikiLeaks - Northern Rock Bank UK failed legal injunctions over the L24,000,000,000 collapse
* Whistleblower exposes insider trading program at JP Morgan - Legal insider trading in three easy steps, brought to you by JP Morgan and the SEC

Censorship technology and internet filtering

* Eutelsat suppresses independent Chinese-language TV station NTDTV to satisfy Beijing - French sat provider Eutelsat covertly removed an anti-communist TV channel to satisfy Beijing
* Internet Censorship in Thailand - The secret internet censorship lists of Thailand's military junta

Cults and other religious organizations

* Church of Scientology's 'Operating Thetan' documents leaked online - Scientology's secret, and highly litigated bibles
* Censored Legion de Cristo and Regnum Cristi document collection - Censored internal documents from the Catholic sect Legion de Cristo (Legion of Christ)
* US Department of Labor investigation into Landmark Education, 2006 - 2006 investigative report by the U.S. Department of Labor on Landmark Education

Abuse, violence, violation

* Report on Shriners raises question of wrongdoing - corruption exposed at 22 U.S. and Canadian children's hospitals.
* Claims of molestation resurface for US judo official
* Texas Catholic hospitals did not follow Catholic ethics, report claims - Catholic hospitals violated catholic ethics

3. Short essays on how a more inquiring media can make a difference in the world

3.1 The Malaria Case Study: the antidote is good governance born from a strong media

Malaria is a case study in why good governance not just good science is the solution to so much human suffering. This year, the mosquito borne disease will kill over one million people. More than 80% of these will be children. Great Britain used to have malaria. In North America, malaria was epidemic and there are still a handful of infections each year. In Africa malaria kills over 100 people per hour. In Russia, amidst the corruption of the 1990s, malaria re-established itself. What is the difference between these cases?

Why does Malaria kill so many people in one place but barely take hold in another? Why has malaria been allowed to gain a foothold in places like Russia where it was previously eradicated? We know how to prevent malaria epidemics. The science is universal. The difference is good governance.

Put another way, unresponsive or corrupt government, through malaria alone, causes a children's "9/11" every day. [1]

It is only when the people know the true plans and behaviour of their governments that they can meaningfully choose to support or reject them. Historically, the most resilient forms of open government are those where publication and revelation are protected. Where that protection does not exist, it is our mission to provide it through an energetic and watchful media.

In Kenya, malaria was estimated to cause 20% of all deaths in children under five. Before the Dec 2007 national elections, WikiLeaks exposed $3 billion of Kenyan corruption, which swung the vote by 10%. This led to changes in the constitution and the establishment of a more open government. It is too soon to know if it will contribute to a change in the human cost of malaria in Kenya but in the long term we believe it may. It is one of many reforms catalyzed by WikiLeaks unvarnished reporting.
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Well, there you have it. Make of it what you will.

Here are but a few of the questions with which we are left:
Is it good or bad for the future of American diplomacy; will it lead to more sunshine in foreign policy or less? Do the cables represent a huge embarrassment for their authors or do our diplomats come off as shrewd, sensible professionals? Were the news organizations . . . that printed the cables guilty of abetting a crime or were they serving a public interest? Should the world be heartened or horrified that Arab countries apparently take a much tougher line with Iran than they have publicly admitted? Is the idea that American diplomats were asked to spy on their United Nations colleagues an outrage or simple common sense? Was Joe Lieberman right or wrong to pressure to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers? Is Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’s editor, a hero standing up to a broken and evil establishment or a sort of digital terrorist with “blood on his hands”?
Tobin Harshaw, "The Hunt for Julian Assange," New York Times, December 3, 2010.

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
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