Tag Archives: WikiLeaks

Strong Crypto: An Offer in Compromise for President Obama

President Barack Obama talks with FBI executiv...
President Barack Obama talks with FBI executives after a speech during a visit to FBI headquarters. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For months, US president Barack Obama played coy on the developing controversy over law enforcement bureaucrats’ demands that American tech innovators be required to build “back doors” into their products. That changed on March 11. In a talk at the Austin, Texas SXSW Interactive festival, Obama warned against “an absolutist view” of individual privacy and strong encryption.

“[I]f your argument is strong encryption, no matter what, and we can and should, in fact, create black boxes,” said Obama, “then that I think does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years. And it’s fetishizing our phones above every other value.”

Weirdly citing the unconstitutional institution of local DUI checkpoints on our roads and the US government’s barbaric post-9/11 practice of subjecting air travelers to sexual assault by Transportation Security Administration employees in the nation’s airports, Obama appealed to the American tradition of “compromise” to support his argument. All, of course, while averring that he is “way on the civil liberties side of this thing.” With civil liberties friends like Barack Obama, who needs civil liberties enemies?

With apologies to the late Barry Goldwater, absolutism in defense of individual privacy and strong encryption is no vice, nor is moderation in their defense a virtue.

But if President Obama really is interested in a compromise, I guess I’m willing to offer one. It begins with four words:

You first, Mr. President.

In 2008, you promised Americans “the most transparent administration in history.” You’ve since not just failed to deliver on that promise, but taken things in exactly the opposite direction.

Your administration has denied or redacted parts of more Freedom of Information Act requests than any since the Act became law in 1966.

Chelsea Manning languishes in a military prison, Edward Snowden lives in exile, Julian Assange remains trapped in Ecuador’s embassy in London, and numerous other whistleblowers have been imprisoned or otherwise persecuted, all for the “crime” of telling us things about the US government that you didn’t want us to know.

You’ve even assumed the power to order American citizens assassinated — while refusing to let the rest of us know who they are or why you had them killed.

In theory, YOU work for THE REST OF US. Since when does the employee get to read the boss’s email on demand, but not vice-versa?

So show us you’re serious. Start with pardons for Manning and Snowden and an end to the pursuit of Assange. Then start fulfilling instead of denying FOIA requests. And the thing with murdering people? That needs to end, completely, permanently.

Get on those things, then we’ll talk. But I’m going to go ahead and predict that this isn’t the kind of “compromise” you meant.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Five Years is Five Years Too Long: Free Julian Assange!

English: Julian Assange, photo ("sunny co...
Julian Assange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Associated Press reports that “British police have removed the officers standing watch over Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, but say they will still do their best to arrest the WikiLeaks founder who has been holed up there since June 2012.”

Arrest? Really? Assange has already spent the last three years and four months under de facto house arrest, trapped in the embassy and  prevented from traveling to Ecuador proper, where he’s been granted political asylum.

And let’s make no bones about this: Assange is a political prisoner.

In November of 2010, Sweden’s Stockholm District Court issued a falsified European Arrest Warrant for Assange. Such warrants may only be issued pursuant to actual prosecutions, not preliminary investigations.

To date, Assange has been charged with a grand total of zero crimes in Sweden. Director of Public Prosecution Marian Ny wanted to interview Assange, not arrest him, about spurious (and almost certainly politically motivated) rape and molestation allegations.

On the basis of the bogus warrant, the UK held Assange (on “conditional bail,” which also amounted to house arrest at the home of a supporter) for extradition proceedings. After exhausting his appeals, he sought political asylum in Ecuador and took up lodgings at the embassy.

Assange has offered, more than once, to submit to the “interview” Ny has requested — in the UK or at the embassy. He has even offered to return to Sweden voluntarily, given a guarantee that he wouldn’t be handed over to the United States for political prosecution over his work with WikiLeaks. The negative response from Swedish authorities to all these reasonable offers demonstrates exactly the ulterior motive Assange has suspected from the start.

The US Department of “Justice” wants to get its hands on Assange and take vengeance on him for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for publishing US State Department cables that revealed various instances of US diplomatic malfeasance (up to and including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempts to have the offices of UN diplomats illegally bugged by State Department operatives).

Former US Army private Chelsea Manning is already serving a 35-year sentence — imposed after an entirely illegal military show trial — for making the material in question available to Wikileaks. Assange knows that he can expect no less if the US gets its hands on him.

The United Kingdom’s government should appreciate the shame it has brought upon itself by conspiring with the Swedish and US regimes to illegally detain Assange for lo on five years now. It’s time to free him, publicly apologize to him, and indemnify him for imposing such an entirely unjustifiable loss of freedom on him for so long.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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