"I Flee and Moan, Therefore I am . . ."

Like Nixon, not Woodward

A short blog of no real consequence, a rebound as it were.

Blogger: (noun) one who flees to his personal writing space and moans to the best of his ability.

Moan: (verb) to point out the flaws in others.

Information is where you find it.

  • FOI is a legal initiative to drag information reluctantly from government, for government has a natural drive toward secrecy. It is best done through legislation that mandates accessibility to all but the most sensitive of government information.
  • Spying is the risky business of stealing information from another nation to help defend one’s own nation. It is generally illegal and is carried out secretly for purposes deemed important and righteous. Spies are often executed.
  • Investigative journalism starts with an issue and probes sometimes hidden or undiscovered information to shed light on the issue. It is journalism with a purpose deeper than reporting on everyday events. Investigative journalism will sometimes rely on unrevealed sources that have access to secret information. The righteous justification is found in revealing who did what to whom, when, where, why and how. What is often criminal. 
  • Whistle-blowing is the non-journalistic cousin of investigative journalism.
  • Wikileaks is a political effort aimed at undermining the integrity of powerful states using methods that are illegal, such as theft of information. It is akin to spying except it is not in defense of any nation, but is for the destruction of nations. Wikileaks would argue that it furthers the betterment of mankind, but one wonders why undertakings are done with disregard toward laws. Laws are the rules by which we pursue the betterment of mankind. 

Wikileaks is Nixon, doing illegal acts for political purposes. Investigative journalism is Woodward, doing discovery on illegal acts.

 
We should be clear on this.
 
Scurrilous scumbag: (adjective fronting a noun) Julian Assange
Comments
30 Responses to “"I Flee and Moan, Therefore I am . . ."”
  1. andrew lim says:

    I was able to follow the thread of your exchanges with the bitter half of Raissa, as I took a similar position of opposing Raissa's call for supporting Wikileaks. Interestingly, they did not reply to my arguments, except for "pls dont give this scenario, we will deal with it when it happens". They could not answer the lack of accountability of Wikileaks, and the potential for abuse by it. They are naively assuming Wikileaks will always be on the side of "good". I actually find your arguments quite weak, considering the US does the same through its spy agencies. What was not brought up was this: we all take sides in this war for information, war of ideologies and actual warfare. If he is arguing for equal rights for North Korea and China, then the conversation ends there. In any case, my advice: continue to post away, but avoid having a conversation with him. I think many find him obnoxious and petty, but he is part of the conjugal blog, and nothing can change that. On the big issues, he is very much on the same side as us: RH, anti-corruption, anti-trapo, cybercrime, FOI, etc. I guess he is underemployed; combine that with a retiree like you will likely result in extra-argumentative discussions. 🙂 Apply Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" or Fr Tabora's "Scent of Silence" on him. 🙂

  2. "I actually find your arguments quite weak" Yes, see, that is the thing. He is smart enough to win the argument on the merits of the issue, because I agree. The foundation of my argument is the softest sand imaginable. I had to stretch to hold position.To me, Alan is a skilled 100 percenter, determined to win even if he destroys others in the process. I understand his affinity for Assange. But you give good advice. I'm in the cooling off period and will likely return over there on a different thread, different topic.

  3. ps. Your "lack of accountability" point is excellent. No one can hold Wiki to account.pps. The Kissinger project takes old, released information, cleans it up a bit, and organizes it for better accessibility. Now there is an upstanding niche for Wikileaks or another organization, to organize and make available information that is out there, but that no one knows about. Organize it as a gigantic on-line library index card file. Like Gutenberg books; free with a double click.

  4. andrew lim says:

    There's a very interesting topic, (though it needs a lot of planning and evaluation) about privatizing the functions of the Bureau of Customs.

  5. That is interesting. Customs is such a rat's nest of smuggling and illicit fees and bribery and kickbacks with good governance definitely swimming upriver.

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    1. To me, WikiLeaks is a grey area. I haven’t fully resolved the issue in my mind. (Refer to item 7.)2. For the most part, I accept your definitions and they are clear. As I understand it, WikiLeaks leaks governmental info that it has in its possession. But is the info stolen or volunteered? My impression is that the info is volunteered. But even if volunteered, is it ethical for WikiLeaks to disseminate the info on the Internet? Note also, that some of the WikiLeaks info has been previously released by the governments concerned. (This is not an excuse or justification.)3. I am glad you mention FOI. My personal bias is towards transparency, for info to be made available. In the ideal world of transparency, where everything is above board, there is no need for deception. (I know, I am a dreamer.)4. On the other hand, I can understand the need for certain things to be kept secret and confidential, such as:4.1 At the government level, secrets pertaining to defense.4.2 At the corporate level, secrets pertaining to product technology, the fruits of research development that are not yet protected by patent or copyright, and expansion strategy.4.3 At the family level, secrets pertaining to financial status4.4 At the personal level, bank account details and health history and status.5. From the above, one of the obvious reasons for keeping secrets is the misuse of info by others for the purposes of (a) taking advantage or (b) to cause harm. There is also the question of privacy or "right to info". But what troubles me about secrecy is one of the eternal questions: Who will guard the guardians? This question applies to WikeLeaks itself. It has been alleged, for instance, that the info they release could be potentially harmful to combatants in the field. (Never mind the question whether a just war is being pursued.)6. In the Hierarchy of Loyalties, above the construct of Country is the construct of World. From that view, a man’s loyalty to the brotherhood of man transcends his loyalty to country. As I say the rule is absolute, but the interpretation is relative.6.1 So this does not mean that a citizen can reveal his nation’s defence secrets, such as the inner working of atomic bombs. But it does mean that a citizen should expose untruths foisted by the nation’s leaders, such as the absence of WMD weapons in Iran.6.2 From the view of the Hierarchy, any construct that possesses an inordinate concentration of power – nation, church, community, family or person – must be subject to some type of check-and-balance. This is necessary because of real and potential abuse. And you see this abuse everywhere: in the GOP, the Church, the dynasties, the senators.6.3 In the Rule of Expanded Self, where there is conflict between and among constructs, we must always analyse at what level of construct we have identified with and are arguing for. Is our level of identification correct? Or even should we identify at all with any construct?7. So the central question is: Where does one draw the line between the need to keep secrets on one hand and the need to divulge secrets on the other? What are the criteria? This is where my powers of analysis fail:7.1 Who can keep secrets and why?7.2 What types of info can be kept as secrets? And why? And for how long?7.3 What types of info should be made available. And why? And to whom? And when?

  7. Thanks for taking this to another level, one that merges "information propriety" and personal/community values.2.0 The man who "volunteered" the US cables and other information is now in jail. If someone came up to Assange with a bunch of stolen Rembrants, would he keep them? Call the police? Sell them? Duplicate them and publish them?7.0 It is the tension between what to keep secret and what to release that is the "check and balance", going evermore onward. It demonstrates a healthy democracy that such tension exists. The tensions in the US have pushed government evermore forward to answer the questions you pose. The time release depends on the sensitivity of the document. Highly sensitive, long time. Which respects the tension between what historians want, access to historical documents, and what government fears, information used out of context to damage.

  8. J says:

    There is such a thing as privilege of communication, and our laws recognize its importance in the conduct of of government. We have Executive Privilege, Judicial Privilege, and Parliamentary Immunity, for instance. This privilege gives policy-makers the leeway to express their thoughts without fear of adverse consequences, with the view of coming up with the best course of action during their deliberations. This privilege is essential in diplomacy, which in turn is obviously essential in keeping peace among nations. WikiLeaks is destroying this privilege, and for what cause?

  9. andrew lim says:

    @Edgar,My main beef with Wikileaks is that it is accountable to no one- except for Assange, it is just a faceless and nameless group of hackers who decide for themselves what info to steal and put out there. Supporting it is reckless. Many of Wikileaks' hackers come from 4chan, many of whom were also responsible for hacking credit card databases and other banking systems. Those who support it are mistaken that Wikileaks will always play the good guy and incorrectly compare them to Woodward of Watergate or other whistleblowers. But they are not. Once it turns rogue, who will rein them in? When Robin Hood starts stealing from the poor, who can stop him? The argument that governments, specially the US, do the same thing that Wikileaks does is correct, but at least govts can be held accountable. They can lose re-election, they can be prosecuted, and programs deemed immoral or illegal can be stopped. With Wikileaks, there is none of that.

  10. The cause of ego and envy, or misguided values. You state the case very, very well.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Joe,You seem to argue against wikileaks for the reason that it revealed Malaysia's actions against the Philippines and reinforced the claim that Sabah really belongs to the Philippines, that is why your argument is weak. You wanted to defend a previous position by attacking wikileaks.Wikileaks supports transparency as well as poked holes in the way nations keep their secrets. It is a bitter pill for everybody, but it does act lije a medicine to heal the ills of the abuse of the power of secrecy and how stronger nations takes advantage of the weak ones for their exploitation. Assange is a necessary 'evil' (in the eyes of the exploiter nations) but a hero to the rest of the exploited.What wikileaks revealed are the facts of how America treat both its enemies and allies as fools, but China and Russia, I guess do the same for the sake of imposing their ideology and dominance.Between you and Raissa, you are just an opinionated egotist while she at least digs and does the legwork. Alan is stubborn and can get you off-balance. At least Lores is consistent and seems to be the commenter who keeps your blog grounded. Mariano is finding his voice,although oftentimes annoyingly repetitive…YaddahAndrew is afflicted by your canine loyalty to Aquino and tries to do his best to mimic you. He too has golden smudges.

  12. Good of you to comment, Yaddah. It's always refreshing to have contrary views hit the table.My view of Assange has been consistent from the getgo and has nothing to do with justifying arguments about Sabah. He is an oily crook. He and Sabah are entirely separate issues.If you mean "exploiter" to mean commercially competitive and successful at dominating markets, or "hegemonistic", I'd agree with you. If you mean it to be coarse and manipulative and squeezing poor, disadvantaged people, I'd say you are off base. The US has done more for global human rights than anybody. Wikileaks is a hero to the envious, as far as I can tell, and the weak. I'm glad you see the qualities of the commenters here reasonably well. I can't even argue with your characterization of me. But the traits provoke good discussion most of the time, so there you go. The only one you missed on is Andrew. It is more likely that I mimic him than he mimic me. I learn a lot from him. He has goals and pursues them, and is consistent in his good values and thoughtfulness.

  13. JosephIvo says:

    Aren’t we talking about a continuum rather the separate categories. From 100% open, harmless to the most sensitive skin up to 100% confidential with extreme consequences for all mankind when leaked and all the shades of grey in between because of availability or consequences. Individual ethical acceptance will differ, for some the lightest shade of grey in any circumstance is unacceptable, for most it’s OK when the possible benefits exceed the possible harm, for the Assange like of people it’s OK when not totally black. How the information is collected is less relevant, if it was by accident or on purpose, through in depth investigative journalism, stolen (a different moral category) or insider leaks. Can I steal information to expose a Chief Justice hidden wealth? Can I publish on a popular site publicly available information on how to make simple lethal cocktails? All one can hope for is that the harm / benefit relation is well thought of in every communication.

  14. Yes, values are relative, so we have argument about it. Much depends on the information itself. What's there? Assange probably had no idea as to the fallout when he published his blast of stolen diplomatic cables, but he was sure it would be embarassing. Now, had it started WW III, we could argue convincingly that he should not have published it. The actuall fall-out has been mild and nations more forgiving of the ambassadorial loose-lips than of Assange for rudely disregarding diplomacy.I suppose there are laws as to what evidence is allowed in court. If it is stolen, often it is not allowed. So it becomes a little dicey. But for me, if there is suspicion of a crime, then stealing information is justified if it can stop or reveal the criminal act. So I think an investigative journalist, pursuing a specific lead or probability of wrong-doing, is justified. But Assange, whose "probable cause" is envy or anger at US dominance, is less well grounded.

  15. JosephIvo says:

    Legality is a separate animal all together. Assange never thought about legality. Tough investigative journalism or pure luck, whatever the (legal) way you get "hot" information doesn't matter for me. Harm? Maybe Assange has been very careful in omitting the most sensitive mails. Proof? It didn't start WWIII. Benefit? We get a better understanding of many events. Some people might realize the power of the new media and the ease of hacking. Some might get more careful in choosing their language or in protecting confidential information. The meaning of the words privacy and confidentiality is changing. Respect for "authority" is changing. Content getting more important than form… Are we getting too old for this debate?

  16. Edgar Lores says:

    Andrew,I will try to answer your question first before responding to other issues. Your question lies at the heart of this ethical problem, and it is equivalent to my item 5: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”One might characterise WikiLeaks as the embodiment of vigilante justice at the international level. As you and JoeAm notes, it is above legal control.But there are other institutions that seemingly do not hold themselves accountable to anybody as well. Dictatorships for one and religion for another.I am not saying that there are no countervailing forces. Ultimately the countervailing forces consist of the target community of these institutions. Citizens will rise up and overthrow repressive governments. Believers will leave the church if their spiritual needs are not addressed. So in a certain sense, these institutions are accountable to their community. The target community of WikiLeaks is composed of the netizens in all nations. If they believe in the rightness of WikiLeak’s mission, and if its product is beneficial, they will contribute and support the organization. They might also act as “whistleblowers”. I use the term advisedly fully aware of JoeAm’s characterization of WikeLeaks sources as thieves. Currently WikiLeaks is in financial dire straits. The organization is funded by world-wide contributions. Some supporters have abandoned ship because as Jemima Khan states Assange is “guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those that WikiLeaks sought to expose.” There is another aspect of WikiLeaks that has not been raised by JoeAm. 1. Because of their openness, is it not likely that WikiLeaks will only expose the secrets of democratic states?2. What if non-democratic states, for their own advantage, covertly support WikiLeaks to undermine these very democratic states?So there is some form of accountability in an ethical and financial sense but not legal accountability.

  17. Points well made. Content is also getting looser and full of fluff and fiction. Libel is an everyday affair online, and only the young don't find it so. Therefore, it is best to try to get young of mind and value rather than concede to the ravaging, ravishing beast of age. I blog because it is good exercise for the brain. I greatly fear calcification.

  18. Ah, there's a marketing tool that Wikileaks might consider to bolster resources, aimed at the Cubas of the world. "Need a spy? Dial 555-6363, Wikileaks, agents and provocateurs for hire."

  19. Edgar Lores says:

    J,The point about the privilege of communication is a good one, and I can see the merits.I have two problems with privileges of any kind: (a) It creates instant discrimination and (b) it is easily taken advantage of to the detriment of transparency and accountability.People tend to forget that privilege is a grant and not a right. And the immediate attitudinal tendency is one of arrogance: I am privileged and you are not.As to the abuse of privilege:o GMA’s Executive Privilege. She passed an Executive Order claiming executive privilege exempted cabinet members from testifying in the Senate.o Judicial Privilege. The Supreme Court said, yes, we will lodge our SALNs but, no, no one has the right to access it.o Parliamentary Privilege. Senator Sotto’s well-known privileged plagiarisms.o Diplomacy. If nations like China, North Korea and, yes, the US were upfront and honest about their international claims and dealings there would be no need for back-door diplomacy. It would certainly be easier and, at a guess, cheaper in the long run. (In the US, the current need for sequestration can be traced to Cheney's Iraq war.) Naive much? To be sure, but I maintain that all constructs, even nations, must behave in an ethical manner.

  20. Edgar Lores says:

    Oh, so many questions and issues!JoeAm, the spacing out of posts is of great benefit. It gives us time to reflect, and the responses add great depth.

  21. Agree. If this keeps up I'll need a more elaborate blogging platform to facilitate discussion.

  22. Oh, please, let us not flog Wikileaks by Filipinos as "a political effort aimed at undermining the integrity of powerful (corrupt) justice using methods that are illegal, such as theft of information… Wikileaks by Filipinos would argue that it furthers the betterment of mankind, but one wonders why undertakings are done with disregard toward laws. Laws are the rules by which we pursue the betterment of mankind."Corrupt Renato Corona was undermined by methods that are illegal, such as theft of private dollar information for the betterment of Filipinos but I wonder why undertakings are done with disregard toward laws the very laws which Filipinos pursue for the betterment of Philippines.To this day, in the Philippines baluktot justice is a means to an end. IT IS A GOOT PRECEDENCE. It is soooo precedential. It is a goot example BUT only in the Philippines.

  23. Whistle-blowing is insider information. Investigative journalism is outside looking in. Philippine journalism is gossip & perception journalism based on hot-air, biases, and, political leanings or affiliation or who they are paying them to practice kindergartnerish journalism.Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, John deLorean & many others went home because they are not guilty because of technicalities … in the Philippines murdered critic of ex Palawan governor is enough motive for the ex-governor to murder the radio personality as evidence. Because according to Philippine looney cultural utopian mentality "if someone criticize, that critic is soooo dead". THAT IS EVIDENCE!!! Plus affidavits! No forensics! WoW!Ampatuan was also carted to court because of the following evidence: 1) Ampatuan hates presspeople; 2) presspeople went to see him and protest; 3) Ampatuan has goons. PERIOD. Enough motive. WoW! And these media people are graduates from Philippine Ivy-schools. WoW! again!To this day, ivy-school media practitioners still believe that Abu Sayaf terrorists are publicity shy that is why they imposed a news blackout on Ces Drilon kidnapping so that Abu Sayaf would not get angry. !!! Super-WoW!!!!!AND FILIPINOS Just ate it all. Of course, of iv-school graduate PHilippine media are stupid, FILIPINOS WHO ARE NOT GRADUATE OF IVY-SCHOOLS MUST BE ULTRA-SUPER-DUPER STUPID, TOO !!!! Well, from the eyes of mine that has set a foot in the land of milk and honey the land of the brave. BUT JUSTICE IS CULTURAL. This is Justice Philippine-style. What is bad to others may be goot for Filipinos.NO WONDER Pope Francis elected an Indian Cardianl to restructure Vatican than a smiley Filipino Cardinal Tagle.Pope Francis must know that Filipinos do not.

  24. Investigative journalism! Ha! http://www.chrispforr.net/row2/chrisphil7/nbn/nbn.htmThe link shows that in the Philippines it is all about "he-said-she-said" no evidences. Wow!

  25. Hey, it reads better than the spy novel I paid good money for. Ends badly though . . .

  26. Ah, a new word for the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary. "precedential", not to be confused with "presidential". Thanks."Laws are the rules by which the powerful throw the powerless in jail and thereby pursue the betterment of mankind."

  27. Edgar Lores says:

    Josephivo,Some thoughts on your thoughts.1. I like your question about continuum and separate categories.1.1 I think info is both depending on perspective. If you look at Wikipedia you can organize info by discrete categories. But you can take a single category and see it as a continuum. Chemistry, for example, can be a range from simple elements, to compounds, to different mixtures until you arrive at the formula for lethal cocktails.1.2. So you can assign shades by category or by sectors/frequencies within a continuum.1.3 But I know you dislike principles, so I say you need “guidelines” to be able to assign shades that go from “openness” to “top secret”.2. One of your "dynamic" guidelines is harm/benefit ratio. This brings up my concern: Who decides what are the benefits?2.1 A plausible answer would be the owner of the info. But as you point out the meaning of privacy and the attributes of info are changing. People have access to info beyond control of the owners.2.2 How do you quantify benefit before the release of info? Assange would claim that the release of most secret info is beneficial.2.3 And there is the Law of Unintended Consequences, which I would interpret as consequential harm/benefit cannot be accurately predicted. One attributed consequence of WikeLeak’s release of an Iraq war video is the Arab Spring, the flowering of freedom in the Middle East.3. I am still of two minds about the methods of gaining access to and dissemination of info. Your harm/benefit rule or JoeAm’s simple thievery. JoeAm has softened his stance somewhat with his conditional grant of a crime being involved. But consider such concepts as the “seal of confession” and “lawyer-client privilege”.

  28. JosephIvo says:

    I’m thinking of a double scale ( “openness” to “top secret”) x (“innocent” to “lethal”). Yes in the scale there is are ranges you can give a specific name, e.g. “stealing” but also in this category it goes from stealing unknowingly and by accident to stealing on purpose with violence. As in physics one should always define the boundaries of a given rule, at near absolute zero temperatures other rule apply than in superheated plasmas. “Harm/benefit” is always an individual decision at a certain point in time. Some will be better equipped to make this decision other will just have to guess. Before the facts it is an estimate, involving “risk” elements, risks in making the wrong assessment, risks of the consequences of the assessment. After the facts it is based on the reliability of the data and the viewpoint of the observer. Bradley Manning’s trial in June will be interesting to hear pro- and contra arguments. For the priest and lawyer the rules are simple, but what if someone accidentally switched on his cell phone during confession and I was listening in? What if I hacked CJ Corrona’s cell phone and heard him confessing his illegal wealth, could I report it on this blog? What if heard Kim Jong-un talking to his lawyers about bombing the US? But good and evil is the subject of so many philosophical debates, difficult for me to understand all, a moving target too and impossible to summarize in one blog.

  29. J says:

    Edgar,Privilege, like almost every concept, is indeed prone to abuse. But the abuse is usually more on the coverage of the privilege. For instance, caucus of the SC justices on a particular case is covered by judicial privilege, but extending the privilege to SALN is a form of abuse. At any rate, the abuse of this privilege is a different question. It doesn't change the fact that the privilege is essential, and that Wikileaks is destroying it.Diplomats can't be upfront to each other– Sullivan can't tell Imelda she's crazy– because that's bound to cause friction. But they can be, and should be, upfront to their bosses and fellow workers.The point is that deliberations among diplomatic agents must be uninhibited to stimulate ideas. That's the point of the privilege.

  30. Edgar Lores says:

    J,Thanks. I understand and accept that privilege is necessary – most especially in diplomacy and even in Executive Privilege. But I believe the privilege on cabinet deliberations should give in, if necessary, to investigative action by the Senate, as in the case of the ZTE-NBN scandal.In diplomacy it is a bit harder to think of an exception, so we will leave it to Senator Trillanes, diplomat extraordinaire, to reveal to us the secrets of backroom negotiations with China.

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