How Crazy Sick is Trump? He Now Says ‘I Know Nothing About WikiLeaks’ or Julian Assange

Sometimes there just really isn’t anything more to say about Donald Trump’s rapidly declining mental state than what he says himself. With each new day day he demonstrates the severity his cognitive infirmities. Much of the evidence is implicit in his incessant lying. At other times he just utters blatant absurdities that have no relationship to reality.

Donald Trump, Julian Assange

On Thursday Trump managed to unleash a statement that is difficult to define in terms of its psychological maladjustment. It is both a lie and and a ludicrous assertion that no sensible person could hear without collapsing in hysterics. Because after spending years lauding Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, Trump now says that “I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it’s not my thing.” What a convenient dismissal just hours after Assange was placed under arrest and charged with multiple felonies.

Um…Okay. We’ll just ignore all of those references you made to it during the 2016 campaign. And never mind all of these tweets that are still on your Twitter feed:

Nearly every one of those tweets is an attack on Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. Which only provides additional evidence that Trump was colluding with WikiLeaks – who was in bed with Russia – during the campaign in order to win the election by cheating, lying, theft, and foreign interference.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s attempt to gaslight the nation by pretending to have no knowledge of WikiLeaks now is pathetic, disturbing, and eminently Trumpian. The whole world witnessed his affection for Assange and company. And anyone who believes his current denial is desperately in need of intense psychological therapy. What a sorry state our country is in when so many people can be lured into such ignorance and cult-style faith in an obvious charlatan.

Trump’s Latest Tweet Threatens The Media (And Press Freedom) For Doing Their Job

Friday morning Donald Trump took another step toward the totalitarian dystopia he yearns to rule. He’s spent months disparaging the intelligence community on which he must rely. At the same time he has defended Russia from charges of hacking that has now been proven beyond question.

Trump Baby

And now he is proposing concrete actions to punish the free press that he so blatantly abhors. This is what he tweeted this morning while waiting to be briefed on the Russian hacking report:

The frightening aspects of that cannot be be understated. Trump is proposing an investigation of a news organization that did precisely what is expected of it. NBC utilized its sources to acquire government information that is relevant to all citizens. And contrary to Trump’s frantic accusation, there is no indication that any of it was top secret. The government was going to release a public version of the report anyway. NBC just scooped them.

What is apparent is that Trump is more concerned about NBC getting info that’s about to be released anyway, than he is about Russians hacking American citizens and political organizations. He is distracting from the far more significant news that Russia had helped him achieve his tainted victory. They even celebrated and congratulated themselves for their successful effort.

It’s important to note the distinction between what Trump’s allies in Russia did and what NBC did. The hackers stole private information from individuals and organizations. That data was not public property. Russia, WikiLeaks, et al, were not revealing government secrets that the people had a right to know. NBC, on the other hand did just that. The Intelligence reports they previewed were paid for by taxpayers for their benefit. So NBC was performing a public service, while Russia/WikiLeaks was invading privacy. But only the privacy of Democrats so as to assist their favored candidate, Donald Trump.

Trump doesn’t care about Russians hacking an American election. He has defended them, and his BFF Vladimir Putin, from the start. Even worse, he has maligned the dangerous work of American patriots serving their country. Under the circumstances, one has to wonder why any intelligence operative would risk their life for Trump during his administration.

Trump has also been a constant foe of the free press. He has called reporters “sleazy” and “dummies” and “liars” and worse. Respected journalists had their credentials revoked to prevent them from covering his rallies. Organizations that represent the interests of journalists have condemned him as a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

That condemnation is playing out bigly today with this new attack on the press. And Trump has still never called for a congressional investigation of the Russian hacking. His whining about NBC sharing intelligence before he has seen it rings hollow. After all, it’s easy to get intelligence before Trump sees it when he doesn’t even bother to take intelligence briefings.

UPDATE: As it turns out, about six hours before Trump’s tweet WikiLeaks posted a tweet that is eerily similar:

That tweet also falsely states that the information NBC reported was “Top Secret.” And it makes the point that NBC received the info before Trump. Considering the similarities it is likely that Trump simply copied the contents of the WikiLeaks tweet for his own. And that’s just more proof that they are working together.

It’s also astonishing that WikiLeaks is complaining about “leaks” to the media. That’s their whole friggin’ reason for existing. But those dishonest hypocrites go nuts when someone else disseminates information acquired through legitimate journalistic means (as opposed to hacking and theft) if it is adverse to their partisan agenda.

Why Vladimir Putin Should Be Time’s Person Of The Year Instead Of Donald Trump

On Wednesday morning Time Magazine revealed their Person of the Year (POY) for 2016. Not surprisingly, they chose Donald Trump. He was certainly a fixture in the media for eighteen nauseating months and dominated much of the political discourse. However, by Time’s own criteria for selecting their annual cover story, Trump may not have been the most appropriate choice.

Trump Person of the Year

Time defines the POY as “the person who most influenced the news, for better or for worse.” It is not necessarily, as Trump described it upon hearing of his selection, “a great honor.” In fact, it can be an outright disgrace as illustrated by some past selections like Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In Trump’s case, his selection may be more along those lines.

Nancy Gibbs, Editor-in-Chief of Time, says of Trump’s selection that “There is a profound argument about whether his influence was for the better or for the worse.” And Time’s article profiling him also addressed some of the darker aspects of his character:

“For all of Trump’s public life, tastemakers and intellectuals have dismissed him as a vulgarian and carnival barker. A showman with big flash and little substance. […]

“Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country. […]

[H]e proved that tribal instincts never die. That in times of economic strife and breakneck social change, a charismatic leader could still find the enemy within and rally the masses to his side.”

Indeed, Trump embraced an unprecedented reliance on division and scapegoating. His “us vs. them” tactics appealed to a nervous populous that fears the unavoidable demographic changes that are in progress. But does any of that justify his selection as Time’s Person of the Year? Did he really have more influence on the news than anyone else?

While Trump did seem to be on an endless loop across every news network, he can’t be given credit for that exposure. The cable news broadcasters voluntarily donated their airtime to Trump. They covered his stump speeches live and uninterrupted for hours on end. They allowed him to conduct phone interviews where he was rarely challenged or held accountable for his remarks. It wasn’t so much a matter of him influencing the news as the news exploiting his unpredictability for ratings.

But there is an even better argument for why Trump did not earn this POY selection. Much of the noise surrounding his campaign was generated by somebody else. Working behind the scenes, Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for influencing the news throughout the election year. His interference in American politics was pronounced and frightening. And all of it was aimed at electing Donald Trump. For instance:

Hacking the Democratic National Committee:
The first stirrings of Russian operatives in the U.S. election process came during the Democratic convention in July. The DNC email system was hacked into and private communications stolen from it were published. For some reason the media found it acceptable to make these private documents public. Remember, these were not government documents that the public has a right to know about.

Hacking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email:
The email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman was also hacked. Again, this was private information that the media made public at the behest of Russian agents. While there was no wrongdoing revealed in these emails, there were things that partisan politicos could exploit and put a negative spin on. They succeeded in turning a huge portion of the campaign into a debate over emails that ultimately proved nothing.

Wikileaks support:
The Russian hackers delivered their stolen data to Wikileaks for distribution. From there Wikileaks released thirty-six separate batches of Clinton’s email. They deliberately strung it out over time in a manner designed to have the most detrimental effect on her campaign. Occasionally they would release a batch timed to a damaging news story about Trump in order to divert the media attention to Clinton and away from Trump.

Hacking voting systems in several states:
Reports of these efforts were the most direct intrusions into actual election processes. Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government are suspected in the onslaught against more than 20 state election systems

Spreading pro-Trump fake news:
The Washington Post reported that “The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” The epidemic of fake news actually outperformed news from more conventional and reliable sources.

The incidents outlined above arguably resulted in the bulk of media attention throughout the election year. They drove the media narrative and spurred the production of additional stories. Trump himself relied on the information stolen by Russians for much of his campaign rhetoric.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Consequently, Trump was a secondary factor in the influence of news events in 2016. It was Vladimir Putin who was actually steering the events that dominated the news. Putin and his agents succeeded in manipulating both the American press and the American political system. He got his man into the White House. And Trump was nothing but a prop on a much larger and more perilous stage. He is more worthy of being named Puppet of the Year.

EXPOSED: WikiLeaks And The Anti-American Trump / Putin Cabal – With New Pussy Riot Video

WikiLeaks began as a disrupter force in the battle for government transparency. They heralded a movement that professed freedom of information and open access to the inner sanctum of officialdom. Unfortunately, they have now devolved into just another self-serving political propaganda outfit. Their motives are blatantly partisan and they are affiliated with shady foreign powers.

Pussy Riot

The evidence of the downfall of WikiLeaks is all too apparent. They continue to release packets of documents stolen exclusively from Democrats and others associated with Hillary Clinton. And they don’t appreciate the difference between exposing government secrets and invading the privacy of individuals. They’ve bastardized their supposed mission of open government by peeking into the private lives of their ideological foes. They have even endangered the lives of people by exposing personal and identifiable information.

At the heart of WikiLeaks is its founder Julian Assange. He is currently a “guest” at the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he attempts to evade extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault. It’s ironic that this alleged rapist is now furthering the candidacy of a fellow sexual abuser. And while many consider Assange to be a hero, the truth about him is beginning to leak out.

Nadya Tolokno is a member of the Russian music and art collective, Pussy Riot. She recently spoke about her encounter with Assange in an interview with the Daily Beast. What she revealed was a shocking affiliation with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. She said that:

“He couldn’t deny it [working with the Russian government]. On the next day after I visited the Ecuadorian Embassy, the head of Russia’s biggest propaganda network, Russia Today, the editor-in-chief came to him and they had a project together. He often works with the Russia propaganda machine, and doesn’t try to hide it. […] He’s connected with the Russian government, and I feel that he’s proud of it.”

Assange certainly shares that in common with Donald Trump, whose connections to Russia are tightly woven into his financial and personal life. Tolokno explained that Assange is motivated by deeply held anti-American views:

“He’s in a state of war with the American government. He’s smart and charismatic and will use any means to destroy the American government. And we had a conversation if it was really the ethical thing to do that with the hands of another government [Russia] which is, in fact, much worse and a real authoritarian government.”

According to Tolokno, Assange dodged the question. He refused to concede the ethical dilemma of advancing Russian totalitarianism at the expense of democracy. It’s an interesting paradox for a man who professes to believe in freedom of speech, but takes the side of one of the world’s most oppressive and censorious regimes.

Tolokno also had something to say about Donald Trump. She assailed his misogyny, racism, and immigrant bashing. The new Pussy Riot music video (below) is a punishing put-down of Trump and his campaign of hate and tyranny. And she drew some poignant parallels between Trump and Putin:

“They want to oppress people and don’t want them to raise their voices. Their reaction when it comes to people who try to criticize them is very similar: Putin put us in jail, and Donald Trump wants to put Hillary Clinton in jail if he’s elected President of the United States. So it makes perfect sense that Putin would want someone like Trump to take power. […Trump wants] to establish a new conservative right-wing oppressive order all around the world. And we need to do everything we can to stop them.”

Tolokno is providing a unique perspective of someone who has spoken with Assange and been the victim of the Russian oppressors that he is now aiding and abetting. She is right that we need to stop Trump, but we also need to stop Assange and his treacherous acts.

No one should give any credence to his document dumps. They are a breach of personal privacy and cannot even be certified as genuine, unaltered information. He is working with Putin, a former KGB agent, on his projects and is not to be trusted. And the media should refuse to cover the WikiLeaks stories without fully disclosing Assange’s unsavory affiliations and motives.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Watch Pussy Riot’s awesome anti-Trump music video “Make America Great Again”

Trump’s New Excuse For Sex Talk Kills His WikiLeaks Case Against Clinton

The 2016 presidential election has been unique in so many ways. Mostly due to the candidacy of a celebrity TV game show host running as a racist demagogue. But even in this year of abnormalities the recording of Donald Trump confessing to sexual assault was extraordinary and appalling.


Up until now, Trump’s excuse for his nauseating behavior has been to trivialize it as “locker room talk.” But rather than leaving it at that he also re-injured his victims by calling them liars and insulting their looks. He actually reaffirmed the abhorrent personality traits that the tapes revealed.

However, on Thursday’s episode of the the O’Reilly Factor, Trump was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly who asked about the impact of the recordings (video below). That segment produced this startling exchange:

O’Reilly: I got one more question about the campaigning. Do you believe you would be ahead, if not for the Access Hollywood stuff?
Trump: I just don’t know. I think it was very negative. It was locker room talk. The microphone was not supposed to be on. Not that I make that as an excuse for myself, but certainly it was an illegal act that was NBC. It was not supposed to be on.
O’Reilly: You think it was illegal, what they did, putting that tape out?
Trump: Oh, absolutely. No, that was a private locker, you know. That was a private dressing room. Yeah, that was certainly illegal. No question about it.
O’Reilly: Are you going to take any action after the election against NBC?
Trump: Well, you’ll see. You’ll see.

So Trump is accusing NBC of an “illegal act” for having made his “private” communications available to the public. After all, he thought his discussion was strictly between himself and his TV colleague. Therefore, the disclosure of its contents to the world was an inexcusable invasion of privacy for which there must be consequences.

Sound familiar? The emails exchanged by associates of Hillary Clinton were also private communications. The participants also had a right to expect that no one else would have access to them. And unlike Trump’s conversation, Clinton’s emails were stolen by hackers and distributed by WikiLeaks, a secretive and shady operation affiliated with Russian intelligence.

Trump has been exploiting the WikiLeaks documents relentlessly in an attempt to malign Clinton and harm her campaign. He has not been the least bit bothered by using stolen documents for his own advantage. In fact, he has literally encouraged Russian hackers to expand their illegal activities and promised that they would be rewarded.

With Trump now declaring that it is improper and even illegal to make private conversations public, will he cease to make use of the illegally acquired WikiLeaks documents? Don’t count on it. Hypocrisy is his standard mode of operation. So while he will cry like a baby if the privacy of his elitist world is invaded, he will continue the exploitation of others when it’s in his interests to do so. That I can tell you.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Distorts WikiLeaks Data To Advance Phony Voter Fraud Claims

Republicans have lately been busy pushing a manufactured fallacy that there is rampant, in-person voter fraud destroying fair elections across America. Of course, they haven’t put forth any evidence of it, but they are pushing nonetheless. They held a hearing in the House last week that was brimming with emptiness and misinformation. And they have retained their personal PR machine – aka Fox News – in the effort.

Now, just when you thought that the GOP/Fox News racket was already so far gone that reality for them was a distant memory, they dispatch their inbred cousins at Fox Nation to dispense a story that is rooted in nothing but a frantic illusion.

Fox Nation

Let’s set aside the irony that Fox is now fronting for allegations emanating from Wikileaks, an enterprise they have previously discounted as disreputable and even traitorous. More troubling is that they have utterly misunderstood the data Wikileaks has released. The data at issue is emails that were acquired through the hacking of the secretive, private intelligence firm Stratfor. In particular there was an email from one Stratfor executive to another that Fox is alleging reveals vote tampering on the part of Democrats in the 2008 election. However, that is not what the email says:

“The black Dems were caught stuffing the ballot boxes in Philly and Ohio as reported the night of the election and Sen. McCain chose not to fight. The matter is not dead inside the party. It now becomes a matter of sequence now as to how and when to ‘out.'”

Clearly the email states the alleged tampering was “reported the night of the election.” So that is not the revelation. If anything is considered newsworthy here it is whether the McCain camp chose to make an issue of news that was already known. But even that is dubious in that there are no reports I can find of any vote tampering in Ohio or Philadelphia post-2008 at all. So this may just be some wild speculation between a couple of private, right-wing spooks upset that their guy lost. It is certainly not evidence of anything by any stretch of the imagination. Where are the “black dems” who were supposedly caught? None of that, however, stopped the Fox Nationalists from publishing the questioning headline above at the top of their web site.

To compound the fabricated propaganda, Fox also posted a story alleging “Massive Voter Fraud Uncovered in Virginia.” And once again, the story was a phony piece of hyper-sensationalized nonsense. Fox was attempting to portray the news as proof of voter fraud that would justify enacting discriminatory voter ID laws. Had any of Fox Nation’s glassy-eyed readers bothered to click through the deceitful headline to the source article, they would have read this:

“The majority of cases reviewed by The Times-Dispatch that resulted in arrests in central Virginia involved felons who either illegally registered to vote or who illegally voted in the general election, or both. Felons cannot vote in Virginia unless their rights are restored by the governor.

None of the cases appeared to involve someone who misrepresented his or her identity at the polls to vote.

That’s right, none of the cases would have been prevented had there been strict requirements for photo IDs that disenfranchise thousands of legitimate voters. The article explains that prospective voters were told by registration collectors that their felony status would not impair their voting privileges. So this appears not to be a case of voter fraud at all, but a case of registration errors wherein the voter was doing what they believed to be proper. The person registering the voter may be guilty of something if they made knowing misrepresentations to the registrant. But in either case, the proposed voter ID laws would not have prevented any ineligible votes because the voter would have presented their own ID and would have been permitted to cast a ballot.

Laws already exist that address the legal conduct of voting registration agents and, as this case demonstrates, they are being enforced. There are also procedures in place to purge ineligible voters from voting rolls (i.e. felons), and they can be enhanced by new technologies to become more accurate and efficient.

This is another example of an allegation of massive voter fraud that failed to verify any such claim. This embarrassing dishonesty follows a special report on Fox News this weekend titled ‘Fox News Reporting: Stealing Your Vote.” As an analysis by Media Matters shows, there were no certified incidents in the entire hour long program of any votes being stolen that could have been prevented by new voter ID laws.

For a problem that Fox and Republicans are trying so hard to build into a nationwide crisis, they are having an awfully difficult time of coming up with even a sliver of evidence. And of course the reason is that there is none. Their only aim is to hype the phony controversy so that they can get laws passed that will prevent thousands of mostly Democratic voters from being able to exercise their right to vote. This is a despicable campaign by a political party and their media accomplice to subvert democracy and dishonestly gain control of government that they otherwise cannot win fairly.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tone-Deaf Defense Of Murdochalypse

MurdochalypsePerhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.

The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.

The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”

It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.

The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:

“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”

Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).

Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”

First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…

“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”

Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.

Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.

It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?

Wall Street Journal Launches Its Own WikiLeaks

The Wall Street Journal has gone into competition with WikiLeaks. They just launched the web site Safehouse where they are soliciting secrets that would ostensibly expose fraud and abuse. The site asks visitors to send in “newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits.”

The interesting thing about this is that it puts the Wall Street Journal in the position of emulating an avowedly anarchist enterprise. I happen to believe that WikiLeaks serves a useful purpose by promoting transparency in public institutions, despite their controversial tactics. There is a role for that in the media as well, but the tactical approach should be consistent with the standards of journalistic ethics.

In that regard the Journal ought not to be encouraging people to break the law. And that is, in effect, what they are doing. The contributions they are seeking are likely to be private materials that are proprietary and confidential. By providing these materials to the Journal, the sources are exposing themselves to legal liabilities. The Journal implies that submissions can be made anonymously, but a reading of the terms of service reveals that the Journal “cannot ensure complete anonymity” and that it “does not make any representations regarding confidentiality.”

In addition, the terms of service, to which you are assumed to have agreed, stipulate that your use may not “violate laws, regulations or rulings, infringe upon another person’s rights, or violate the terms of this Agreement.” Consequently, after taking the risk of providing the data, the Journal sets you adrift legally by holding themselves harmless in the event that your disclosures were unlawful. And to drive home that point they state explicitly that “Dow Jones is not responsible to you in any way for any loss, damage, civil claims, criminal charges, or injury that result, directly or indirectly, from your use of SafeHouse.” So they get all the benefit, but you take all the risk.

It is that sort of disclaimer that differentiates Safehouse from WikiLeaks. Anything you provide to WikiLeaks is completely anonymous without your having to request it. The ghostly, non-profit site exists in a quasi-legal state that protects whistle-blowers without disclaimers and exceptions. The Wall Street Journal exists to make money and spread the rightist ideology of its owner, Rupert Murdoch. That makes dealing with Safehouse a precarious proposition.

Other news organizations are already entering this field. The New York Times and Washington Post are said to have projects in the works. al-Jazeera has already launched its Transparency Unit, which has none of the conditions of Safehouse. Therefore, there are far better options for nervous whistle-blowers than the one offered by the Journal. And remember, the Journal is part of a media empire that includes disreputable outfits like Fox News, the New York Post, and the Times of London.

I would be wary of trusting the Journal in any case due to the general hostility of the right toward WikiLeaks, whom many on the right regard as agents of espionage. There are conservatives who have publicly called for the execution of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder. The possibility of the Journal’s editors taking your data and turning you in is not difficult to imagine. With all of their legalese drafted to protect themselves, it doesn’t seem like a particularly safe house.

[Update] Due to the universally negative reception for Safehouse, the Wall Street Journal was forced to issue a press release in response. It said in part…

“There is nothing more sacred than our sources; we are committed to protecting them to the fullest extent possible under the law. Because there is no way to predict the breadth of information that might be submitted through SafeHouse, the terms of use reserve certain rights in order to provide flexibility to react to extraordinary circumstances. But as always, our number one priority is protecting our sources.”

Obviously protecting their sources is not their number one priority because in the sentence just prior they admit that the reservation of “certain rights” takes precedence over the protection of sources. And exercising those rights puts the source at risk. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

An Open Letter To Julian Assange

Dear Julian,

Few stories last year were more dramatic than the WikiLeaks document dump. It exposed both the internal workings of American diplomacy and the weaknesses of its infrastructure. The impact of it was so great that you were even on the short list for Time’s Person of the Year.

Subsequent to the tsunami you created there was a backwash of attacks from critics and legal authorities. I was one of those who defended you as a journalist who was doing what any journalist would do after coming into possession of controversial documents that had a clear value to the public. I saw no difference between your actions and those of Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame.

I was encouraged to hear that you regarded yourself as journalist and proudly asserted the rights and privileges of the profession. However, you cannot assert those rights selectively.

Recently you announced that you were in possession of documents that you were holding as “insurance” in the event that anything happened to you or WikiLeaks. You made it known that included in that batch were cables referencing Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.

The description of these documents as insurance implies that if they were to be released they would cause some discomfort to the subjects. So you are confessing that you have damaging information about Murdoch that you are deliberately keeping secret.

This violates the code of journalistic ethics to which you are lately claiming to be signatory. It is wholly inappropriate to use such documents as a bargaining chip for your own personal benefit. The information you are hoarding belongs to the people. What’s more, Rupert Murdoch, in his role as the planet’s chief propagandist and media baron, is doing tangible harm to the world and to the practice of journalism. If you have information that, if released, would diminish Murdoch’s grip on the press, you have an obligation to release it now. It does not belong to you. It is not your “get out of jail free” card.

By stashing these papers away for your own purposes you weaken your case for being a journalist. But worse than that, you make yourself culpable for every evil thing Murdoch does. If you have the ability to diminish his influence and refrain from acting, then you share responsibility for whatever he does until you do act.

That is why I am calling on you to release what you have on Murdoch now. If it has public value then it belongs to the public. Murdoch’s secrets have no special grant to be kept secret. Ellsberg didn’t squirrel away batches of data to blackmail his adversaries and neither should you. And remember this, if Murdoch had any damaging information about you he wouldn’t hesitate for a second to broadcast it far and wide.

Set it free, Julian. And if you do not I certainly hope someone at WikiLeaks leaks the info despite you. It would really be a shame if let your paranoia turn you into the thing you have been fighting against.

Sarah Palin Palling Around With Terrorists

Sarah PalinSarah Palin is so outraged about the breach of security by WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange that she wants him to be hunted down like a terrorist – just as soon as she’s through reading the U.S. State Department cables that Assange made public through WikiLeaks. This is what she wrote on her Facebook page last month:

“Assange is not a ‘journalist,’ any more than the ‘editor’ of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a ‘journalist.’ He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

It’s so thoughtful for Palin, a Fox News contributor, to define for us what a journalist is. After all, she considers herself a journalist by virtue of having acquired a degree in communications (after attending five colleges) and reading weekend sports scores on a local Alaskan TV station.

However, this week Palin published an op-ed in USA Today that exposes an ironic twist to her hypocrisy. In the article she (or rather her ghostwriter) rails against the Obama administration for not being sufficiently panicked by Iran’s alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. She’s done her homework and can reveal that…

“…now we know for sure because of leaked diplomatic cables. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia ‘frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program,’ according to these communications.”

The reason Palin knows what she claims to know is only because Assange published the cables she is referencing. However, were she to get her way he would be executed for treason (a legal impossibility because he isn’t a U.S. citizen, but having a grasp of facts never stopped her before). So Palin thinks that Assange has blood on his hands for publishing the materials she is now using to validate her hawkishness toward Iran and her attack on President Obama. By her own assessment she has adopted a terrorist as her source.

Without realizing it, Palin has actually justified Assange’s commitment to the free flow of information that permits people to know what their government is doing in their name. She is herself a beneficiary of that commitment to a free press. By referencing the WikiLeaks cables Palin is, in effect, honoring Assange and his heroic work. Without him she would never have known about King Abdullah’s exhortations. Nevertheless, she refuses to acknowledge him as a journalist, and has no qualms about exploiting data that she believes should be classified and that she obtained from someone she compares to Al Qaeda.

The rest of Palin’s op-ed was a frenetic advocacy of military intervention with Iran. She cavalierly dismisses the economic and diplomatic efforts currently underway and proposes her own solutions such as banning all financial dealings with Iranian banks, limiting Iran’s access to international capital markets and banking services, and closing air space and waters to Iran’s national air and shipping lines. Amongst the many things that Palin doesn’t know is that her proposals are tantamount to a declaration of war. That would be an irresponsible and unconscionable strategy insofar as Iran’s nuclear ambitions are many years from bearing fruit and we are a long ways from having exhausted less hostile remedies.

Palin’s plan would result in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of American soldiers, not to mention Iranian, Israeli, and other civilians in the region. And it would put our country in the position of having to fight three simultaneous wars. It would also destroy any hope for advancing the interests of Iranian dissidents as those who were not neutralized by the Iranian government would turn against their U.S. aggressors. Starving and/or bombing people is not the best way to gain their affection. But what would you expect from a woman who hosts a TV reality show on which she pounds fish and shoots reindeer?

This editorial is just another example of why Palin is utterly unqualified for national leadership. She is ignorant and unstable. And she is so afraid of presenting herself to the media to defend her bizarre and dangerous positions that she hides behind occasional op-eds, Fox News, Twitter, and her Facebook wall, where she will never have to respond to criticism. And from the safety of her cyber-perch she bashes Julian Assange even as she uses his work to prop up her harebrained schemes.