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December 23, 2010

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Good questions,
My recollection was that Ellsberg was a government “contractor” working for the Rand Corporation. I could be wrong about this. As I remember, Ellsberg’s case was thrown out due to the Federal Government’s action of trying to smear Ellsberg by breaking into his psychiatrist’s office and stealing the files on Ellsberg. The burglary was pulled off by Gorden Liddy and the “plumbers” as I recall. This sounds familiar in the Wikileaks case, in that Assange has been charged with a crime just after releasing information which exposes the government lied to the American public. We do not know the facts about the sex crime allegations, and I will give the accusers the benefit of the doubt, for now.
Please feel free to correct my history, as that was a long time ago and I have not fact checked myself. In any event, when a US citizen sees something that violates the law in an egregious way, he (or she) has a duty to say something about it, in my opinion. This concept was the underpinning of many of the Nuremburg convictions.
From a legal standpoint, when Bradley Manning disobeyed orders to keep the information secret and released some documents, he had a duty to do so as the documents contained evidence of crime, similar to the actions of Ellsberg (in my opinion). Now we know that not all of the documents contained evidence of crime, probably most did not.
Did Wikileakes have a right to publish these docs? I say yes, and am very glad they did. Does Fox News have a right to broadcast certain leaks which are used to smear the Obama administration, as they have done? I say yes. Are they hypocrites for smearing Wikileaks and then using bits and pieces of the leaks for political purposes? I say what’s new?
Many think our government has become too secretive and heavy handed. The memory of the government lying to the American public to start the Iraq war is very fresh in the minds of many, as are the lies we were told about the war in Viet Nam.
Now comes our Homeland Security Department with a new slogan “if you see something, say something”, a new campaign for citizens to report “suspicious behavior” of fellow Americans to the federal government. Very fricken scary. I say apply this slogan to government.

on point with Assange / rule of law:
http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/12/21/lind_rule_of_law/

Thanks for the link, Royal. Thought provoking. I have a question about it though. Setting up a corporation in a tax haven isn't illegal, is it? It is only illegal if you try to hide US income. The reason corporations set up Swiss/Bermuda/Cayman etc corporations is typically to avoid paying taxes on foreign income taxed in foreign domiciles again in the US. Isn't the US one of the only countries that doesn't allow deductability of foreign taxes on foreign revenues for US companies?

Well, I think there is a difference when contractors are engaged in a war effort for the United States, being paid with taxes. Agreed that off shoring as described is not illegal, however one must agree it is nothing more than an outrageous loophole in the law. The point is that the rule of law in America has been hijacked by certain special interests. Powerless people are the losers and the equation is getting more lopsided by the day. In my opinion Bradley Manning’s actions were a revolt, and probably could be considered illegal as well as revolutionary. Are we ready for a revoloution?

Royal, did foreign contractors benefit from this war effort or did only US companies? If it is no longer domiciled in the US, and if it does most of its work and derives most of its revenues outside the US, is it a US company? Should companies be patriotic? You don't espouse patriotism for citizens, why companies? If companies domicile themselves elsewhere for advantageous tax treatment because the US has punitive tax laws, is that wrong? Likewise, in the current census, the 9 states that do not have an income tax saw their population rise at twice the rate of the country in general (35% vs 9% overall), so one might imply a flight to states that aren't so covetous of the fruits of a citizen's labor. Should this be disallowed? Should states have the right to restrict the free movement of its citizens? In the end, the "solution" that always emerges from your philosophy is to restrict freedom of the individual. That you and certain fellow travelers know what is best for everyone. Of course, that doesn't make for a free society because God forbid that you and the fellow travelers lose the reins of power to those that don't believe as you do. That makes it easy to rationalize holding on to your power at all costs.

“Should companies be patriotic”?

My answer: I will let the companies speak to that. The company in question is Halliburton. Just ask them. They are huge flag waivers and pronounce themselves to be patriotic. Just ask former CEO Dick Cheney whether Halliburton is Patriotic.

“You don't espouse patriotism for citizens, why companies?”

My answer: Bradley Manning’s actions were based in ideology. Halliburton’s actions are based in capital. Yes I do see distinction with a difference here. I suggest you reread some Thomas Jefferson if you have any doubts about the relationship between patriotism and revolution. As I recall Jefferson spoke to the need for a revolution in America every 20 years. Just going along with whatever puts the most money in your pocket does not make one a patriot. In fact I can not remember you ever taking a position that did not directly inure to financial gain. Help me out here and refer me to a post to the contrary.

“If companies domicile themselves elsewhere for advantageous tax treatment because the US has punitive tax laws, is that wrong?”

My Answer: Not illegal but wrong. This situation is so out of control due to the fact that powerful people and companies have such influence in law making, with the sole goal of capturing more capital at any cost. Unfortunately this is not good for the whole of America. While it is true the top ¼ of 1% of the American public has prospered from this situation; the vast majority has reduced quality of life. I will refer you to the incredible American debit created by the failure of American capitalism in 2008, to include, but not limited to the 9 trillion printed and loaned out by the government in secret to the capitalist icons I have mentioned in prior postings, to include GE, Goldman Sachs….on and on.

“Should states have the right to restrict the free movement of its citizens?”

My Answer: Of course not, and what a ridiculous, but typical response. The article objects to Halliburton forming a shell that resides in a computer hard drive in the Bahamas in order to skirt US taxation while supporting a US war paid for with US tax receipts. How can you associate this with totalitarian rule? Or is it that you really see the wrong in this and just fall back on that old line you learned from Fox news?

“God forbid that you and the fellow travelers lose the reins of power to those that don't believe as you do.”

My answer: Choke, my position is in opposition of the status quo. If I and “my fellow travelers” held the reigns of power we would implement the suggested changes I have set forth. You and your minions hold the reigns of power and are responsible for the situation I object to. You support the status quo in terms of off shoring. I do not. Your policy is law. Mine is not. However, it is a fairly safe bet that attitudes and actions in America are changing as this economy spirals downward.

Sorry to upset you, Royal. I was honored to have been upgraded to "The Man" and warranting "minions", however. Sorry to disappoint, but just a small business man. And I have read the Founders carefully, including Jefferson, and they were all believers in keeping the product of their own labors. You throw out a lot of examples, but they are often contradictory to your fundamental thesis of a socialist utopia. This makes me think you are intentionally misdirecting. I don't think you are stupid. I am fundamentally a libertarian. I think what is broken is because of our misguided efforts at more central control, for whatever reasons ascribed. I think rules and regulations come at the cost of personal liberty, and thus should be invoked very carefully and thoughtfully. You think it is because it is not controlled enough by some sort of central authority. Fair enough. I disagree.

You think that humans, when they break the law concerning state secrets etc. are idealists. Apparently, the US shouldn't have any sort of privileged communications amongst its diplomats and military officers. An interesting experiment, to say the least. That a private, due to his idealogy or as a prank, invoked it on the US, and the US only, and is thought a patriot for it by some, is also interesting. That these same people feel that corporations are chattel to be held by governments and bled out is consistent with your socialist idealogy. That these entities would resist that is consistent with mine.

“Sorry to upset you, Royal. I was honored to have been upgraded to "The Man" and warranting "minions", however. Sorry to disappoint, but just a small business man.”

Ok…..I will take you at your word. It is true, however, that you have a microphone, writing in on of the most widely used internet based sites for those directly engaged in the oil business. You are a spokesman of some stature. I can not speak to the degree of stature, but it seems fairly clear this blog is visited by O&G insiders. Also, you did not upset me. I stand corrected, and will downgrade you to a lesser position.

"Apparently, the US shouldn't have any sort of privileged communications amongst its diplomats and military officers.”

What if these communications cover up crime? Was a federal judge wrong to throw out the case against the New York Times for publishing the Pentagon Papers on the basis the American people had the right to know?

G. Gordon Liddy has become a hero of the right wing. He even has his own talk show. What do you think of Mr. Liddy? Is he an American hero to you?

One thing you never talk about is how the American capitalist heroes ran to feed from the trough of socialist welfare to the tune of TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS” to save their failed companies, most of it done in secret. If that is not a de facto failure of American Capitalism, I don’t know what it would take for you to call it a failure. Do you think we need to lessen regulations on these guys to make things better? Left unchecked, capitalists will suck the last drop of blood out of an economy. It happens every time. There are no surprises here.

Money trumps ideology with capitalists, every time. Capital is the beginning and end of the belief system. All the other accouterments, such as America, Jesus, fair markets, blah, blah, blah, are just window dressing. I know you are a movie buff. I just watched “there will be blood”. What a magnificent portrayal and study of the American Capitalist. The director captured the essence of this creature in his domain, the oil business.

This country is in serious economic trouble. As Americans descend into economic hardship, look for some changes. I don’t think you will like the changes I see on the horizon.

Hmmm. Let's see if I get this. It is alright to break a law in order to expose a crime. Presumably a bigger one. OK. What crimes were exposed here? I am sure they were, I just am not knowledgeable about them. Or was it the tired old stretches that the fringes use to say the other side broke a law, except that no one is ever charged or indicted because the middle doesn't recognize that a crime was committed or that the definition of the crime was a stretch?

Forcing people to loan money, then removing the negative consequences thereof is not free markets. They are markets interfered with by politicians and idealogues.

“Hmmm. Let's see if I get this. It is alright to break a law in order to expose a crime.”

My answer:

Yes, of course. If you leak a document or disobey an order that is criminal, the leak or the act of insubordination is not a crime. If you doubt this see USA vs. New York Times.
“Forcing people to loan money, then removing the negative consequences thereof is not free markets. They are markets interfered with by politicians and idealogues.”
My answer:
Nobody forced AIG and every other major financial institution to leverage up 150 to 1 on credit default swaps and other derivatives, knowing full well a downturn would force a government bail out because they could not cover the obligations. No one forced the Fed to loan 9 TRILLION DOLLARS in secret to the capitalist heroes of America. The pigs took the money. They simply devalued the currency and stole $ from every working American.
Yes it was politicians and ideologues, provided of course you consider a cold blooded capitalist to be an ideologue. I can accept that, and I also accept that fact that capitalism is a religion, wherein capital is God. Now Sean will tell you it was that fag Barney Frank that caused the problems….what a joke. The financial institutions exposed themselves beyond any reasonable limits because they knew that if and when they failed the government would be forced to bail them out. They kept writing contracts and posting up those big profits and big bonuses until the well went dry. This situation screams for regulation. This failure was the last nail in the coffin of American Capitalism. This sentiment was expressed as a headline in the Wall street journal in May, 2008.
Choke, I can understand how difficult it is to be a capitalist in 2010, when all your institutions have failed and your belief system has been lifted from you’re your grasp, crumpled, and tossed in to the waste bin labeled “no value”. There is a place for you on the other side. Perhaps you should reread Marx. He predicts this failure, along with the denial and unquenchable greed that exists in the remnants of American capitalism.

What was leaked was not evidence of war crimes or attrocities, but old communications between millitary and political leaders. I think both sides are making the document out to be more than they are. Wikileaks did not expose some huge conspiracy or damning millitary conquest plans. Wikileaks is just trying to make themselves look like hero's.

The government on the other hand is trying to save face. What was leaked were embarrasing emails reflecting personal thoughts from politicians. They are also trying to keep up the facade of being invincible. The threat from this leak is not in the material, but in the act. Manning showed the world ( Allies, enemies, and estranged aquaintances) that we are not invincible. That one man can create such a huge wake of panic.

In the last week there have been several scuicide bombinngs killing many people. Yet, those stories are 3 page news at best. The Wikileaks story is front and center.

Last month Al Qadea released a tape saying that the recognize that scuicide bombings killing a few here and a few there cannot topple the powerful US. They have found our true weakness, us. They said that there new goal is topple us from within. They will attack us financially and politically. Divide the country over politics and then collapse the economy. It is how all major emipres fell in the past. A major attack fro foreign enemies drained the coffers, leading to political strife, and the empire eventually imploded under its own weight.

The simple fact is that Wikileaks did not break any laws. The Manning kid on the other had did break the law. He should be courtmarshaled and indicted for treason. There use to be a day when the penalty would be death, but I don't think this is full blown treason. He willing stole classified materials and distributed them to an international leftist watchdog. Wheter his reason were for fame, fortune, political beliefs, or just because he was bored, he still knowingly violated the law in a major way.

Glad you are back on Wikileaks. I will limit this comments to that subject.
I read over the weekend that a new leak revealed the US had knowledge that Israel launched an air strike on a Syrian nuclear plant, and Our government withheld this info from the American Public. With Middle Eastern policy at the center of American political debate, do US citizens have a right to know about this aggression? Would that justify the act of leaking? I say yes. For those who vote and/or otherwise participate in government, knowledge of this action is important, and is the business of the people, not a military secret.

Royal, your example doesn't pass the history sniff test. The US has found itself in many historic debates... whether to be involved in WWII for instance. Prior to the US being officially involved, it had plenty of secret intelligence re British (and prior to that, French) involvement in sabotaging Nazi facilities. Did the American people deserve to know about that? Prior to us declaring war, many Americans were sympathetic to the Nazi movement in Germany (such as Charles Lindbergh), keeping America isolationist, and many sympathetic to the Communist movement in the Soviet Union. Did the People need access to this intelligence?

Ok choke...I am listening. What about the bombing of Cambodia? The courts slam dunked that one as a “right to know” issue. Granted that was different in that it was a US action, although Israel is reported to be a key US partner and recipient of MAJOR us aid. It certainly seems to be wrong for the US to withhold this type of information to the citizens. It raises important issues as to why this happened, who gave the order to withhold the info, and if Israel was behind the decision. Israel has a checkered history of medaling in US internal affairs and routinely sends espionage agents to steal our most valuable secrets.

There was also info related to the US firing on civilians, which is supposed to be the piece of evidence that persuaded Manning to act.
Let me take your side and ask some questions that are more on point, such as;
1) Did Bradley Manning report the issues to his commanding officer?
2) If he did, and nothing was done, did he go higher in the chain of command?
3) If he did not, was he intimidated? If so how?
These are questions the most important issues, in my opinion. To date, I have not seen this question raised in the press.

I don't think AIG had an end game, and certainly didn't foresee being "bailed out".

Royale: Re-read USA v. NYT; The NYT was not held to be criminally liable simply because they had no part in obtaining the Pentagon Papers, thus no culpability. Ellsberg on the other hand, was a criminal, as is Bradley Manning.

Wikileaks is the NYT in this equation and has no level of responsibility unless they asked for the documents under the promise of remuneration.

I tend to side with Royale on this one...there needs to be some sunlight in the dark recesses of our government sometimes. It matters not how or who shines the light, only that the light gets in.

Ellsberg may be a criminal in your mind, but was never convicted of a crime. His espinoge case was thrown out by a federal judge. Ellsberg is a true American Patriot in my book.

Wait a minute....did I read that Hondo said he agreed with ME???? Damn....can it be so? He must be remembering the bet I am about to lose.

I think the bigger question should be "If Wikileaks got all this for free-What are other world governments receiving for the millions in cash they have to offer for clsassified informaton?"
If this is the best the United States government can do with keeping secrets then they should be leaked...

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