The reaction and actions by our government are terrifying

The complicity of private companies that control a vast amount of how we all interact with the world is equally appalling.

From the Guardian – “PayPal’s vice-president of platform, Osama Bedier, told an internet conference the site had decided to freeze WikiLeaks’ account on 4 December after government representatives said it was engaged in illegal activity.

“[The US] state department told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward,” he told the LeWeb conference in Paris, adding: “We … comply with regulations around the world, making sure that we protect our brand.”

After all of this I assume that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, et al will also begin to make life hard for the New York Times, El Pais, Le Monde, and the Guardian.  And DOJ will be working out an indictment for Bill Keller under the Espionage Act, right?  Wikileaks is redacting the same information that the papers are and the papers have released more of the documents.  So, why all the furor over Assange and Wikileaks?  Could it be that they are convenient boogeymen for Adminstrations, from Sakorzy’s in France to Obama’s, who need a PR win?

The cables amount to little more than embarrassing gossip. The damage to our National Security has been extremely overstated.  Secretary Gates said as much last week.  Governments have a need to do some things in secret.  That’s a fact of life.  If we had to hold a referendum or public airing of everything that our Government engaged in nothing would get done, especially the less than pleasant things. There are times that we can’t know.  But not everything needs be classified.  These cables show just how far wrong we’ve gone in classifying the pointless minutiae in order to create an insulated vacuum.  The story here is not the content of the cables, but that the Government got caught playing keep away with too much information and began a campaign to shut down a legitimate website.

This is why the pressure put on private companies to help scrub Wikileaks from existence and their acquiescence is terrible.  It’s not about national security, it’s about embarrassment.  This should concern anyone who has a Visa or Mastercard in their wallet or rely on them for their business.  Or anyone who uses paypal to sell merchandise or collect donations.  Or uses a domain provider for their website or banks with a Swiss bank (unless you’re brutal dictator, because then the Swiss Banks won’t do anything to your money).  Or if you happen to use the computers at the Library on Congress, the nations repository of knowledge and information.  With a varying amount of pressure these companies and organizations have effectively turned out the lights on Wikileaks.  We all rely on the services these companies provide in some way.   Actions like this and attempts at censorship from Government and private companies are the stuff of novels, it’s not supposed to happen in the real world.  This is something that we condemn countries like China for doing and why we award Nobel Peace Prizes to jailed dissidents.   The collusion we are seeing needs to have a light shown on it and needs to be called out for what it is – bullshit.

A note: the Visa/Mastercard actions look even worse  because one of the cables concerns the US Government lobbying Russia on the companies’ behalf.  Let’s hope we all calm down and realize that every now and again, a little spring cleaning is a good thing.  If this continues all of those nutjob, one world government, Bilderberg group runs the world, etc, etc…will just start shouting “told ya so” louder and that would be terrible.

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