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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/4/10

Are we still "better than them?"

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During the Iran/Contra investigations, Reagan Secretary of State, George Schultz, said something that everyone who works in Washington should have tattooed on their forehead:

"Anyone who thinks they can keep a secret in this town should have their head examined."

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As a reporter who once worked that beat, I concur. Washington is the leakiest of leaky ships of state. Any reporter, determined to get to the bottom of a rumor will find no shortage of people willing to whisper sweet somethings in their ear. Some sources are just blowing smoke, for sure. But, stick with it long enough, build confidence in potential sources and, sooner or later, some GS-11 is going to get pissed or feel dissed or have an attack of conscience (rarer, but it happens) and beans start spilling faster than you can collect them up.

All WikiLeaks has done is cut out the middlemen -" the media. Now sources, acting on who knows or who cares what personal or professional motivations -" are leaking directly to the world-at-large. Which explains the outsize reaction to  WikiLeak revelations.

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Screams of "FOUL! " are coming largely from two camps: the US government and the Main Stream Media. And each has their own bones to pick.

It's not hard to figure out the burr under government's saddle. Taxpayers are getting a rare, unvarnished glimpse into some of the utter nonsense their tax dollars fund. State Dept. cables are replete with content which too often bears a distressing similarity to fraternity and sorority generated text messages.

Then there's the media. There was a day when our main stream media was our WikiLeaks. Search no further than the Pentagon Papers affair to re-discover the now mothballed spine of our once mighty MSM. I'm pretty sure the Pentagon Papers publication by the New York Times represents one of the last times our MSM treated the American public to raw, un-redacted classified documents.

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Over the decades since, the media decided their lives would be a lot less complicated if they simply became a partner with government in deciding what Americans are mature and worthy enough to know. The deal, unspoken but clearly understood by media brass; agree to redact -" black out or withhold entirely -" "sensitive portions" of classified documents that fall into media hands and the government will agree not to kick a big fuss or go to court to stop publication.  (US targets Assange, says media not responsible.)

Any reporter or editor who's been on the receiving end of White House or Pentagon pressure not to publish something, understands why such a Faustian agreement might be an attractive deal. After all, it costs money to fight injunctions in court when all you really want to do is write a story that gets a lot attention, maybe wins a journalism prize or two thus building readership so the paper or network can charged more for ads.

WikiLeaks founder is on the run and will soon to be arrested and why WikiLeaks itself is now the first genuine government-waged cyberwar attacks. I have come to expect exactly this kind of reactionary nonsense out of government. After all, that bear has always sh*t in the information-woods whenever threatened with exposure. It what's they do best and conducts with a  gusto and -" dare I say -" "efficiency" we'd all be better off today if they employed in governance in general.

But  - - here's the real shocker --  look who else has piled on: those whiz-kids down in Silicon Valley who started their careers, and fortunes, thumping their chests with pronouncements that,  "information wants to be free." That was then. Now they're not so sure an entirely free flow of information is good -- for business.

PayPal cuts WikiLeaks from money flow

BERLIN (AP) - The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its website accessible.

WikiLeaks struggles as Internet Service Provides drop and block them

Washington Post: WikiLeaks, which has sought to leverage the anonymity and ubiquity of the Internet in its efforts to make public secret government documents.

When WikiLeaks fled to what they believed would be a safe port -" the "cloud," Amazon kicked WikiLeaks down their front steps and back on on the mean streets of server land. Amazon did not want to "set information free" if that mean US government hackers might launch denial of service attacks and screw up Christmas sales.( Amazon's Wikileaks Rejection Raises Cloud Trust Concerns )

What is really rich about the US government's actions is that what it says about our " Do as we say, not as we do," behavior . Whenever the US dumps on some authoritarian, closed society we don't like, the first bludgeons they use against them is their "lack of transparency," and "lack of accountability to their people" and "restrictions on the free flow of information." All of which the US government claims is what makes us different from "them."

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)
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