Ellsberg and Assange

December 29, 2010

Ellsberg and Assange

Following up on Tuesday's post regarding WikiLeaks, Wired.com has replied to Glenn Greenwald's missive accusing the online mag of sitting on the incriminating chat logs between leaker Private Bradley Manning and hacker Adrian Lamo, with separate responses from editor-in-chief Evan Hansen and senior editor Kevin Poulsen. Poulsen in particular repays Greenwald's sharp-edged allegations with his own riposte calling the Salon.com blogger's opening salvo "a breathtaking mix of sophistry, hypocrisy and journalistic laziness."

And the lawyer for the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case says Julian Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Floyd Abrams notes that Ellsberg chose to keep some documents secret, specifically classified diplomatic cables—the sort of information that has caused the biggest uproar over the WikiLeaks dump. Unlike Ellsberg, Floyd says, Assange is clearly interested in disrupting diplomacy simply for its own sake. And the WikiLeaker's recklessness endangers real journalists, too: the Justice Department could theoretically go after Assange and anyone that reports on the trove of cables, and the fiasco "doomed proposed federal shield-law legislation protecting" the use of confidential sources and "may well lead to the adoption of new and dangerously restrictive legislation."

The Journal also released the transcript of its headline-inducing interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Juan Cole thinks U.S. forces really will be out of Iraq within a year and welcomes the end of "George W. Bush’s departure into expensive and anachronistic games of direct imperial domination." Rubber Hose says the news is not exactly "breaking" but hopes Maliki's remarks are a sign that he "is actually responsive to public opinion in his country."

Count Max Boot among those "unsurprised," although he calls U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey's assessment of progress "overly rosey" and warns that the Iraqis "will face stiff challenges" if and when the Americans leave. Maliki's interview is also cited by the Times in a lengthy editorial urging Baghdad and Washington to keep at least some troops in Iraq's ethnically contentious northern city of Kirkuk as a temporary "buffer."

Wrapping up commentary on other newsworthy issues, the Gray Lady is also running an op-ed by former–Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, who pleads with the U.S. Senate to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty now that the its work on New START is done. Passing the 1996 UN pact, Gorbachev says, "would be a step toward creating a truly global community of nations." And Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has some questions for General David Petraeus on Afghanistan (like, whatcha gonna do about Afghan President Hamid Karzai?).