A Financial Times ‘view’ on WikiLeaks

I used to work for the Financial TImes, known as the FT. It is still one of the world’s great newspapers.

The advertising jingle goes ‘No FT – no comment’.

I say that not because I used to work there and have a vested interest. I would hope you know me well enough by now to know that I stand at a distance from ‘organisations’. Yet the FT is still independent, is not part of the News Corporation  or any other media ‘Empire’, and ploughs its own course irrespective of how the wind blows.

So I recommend this blog by one of its columnists, and go to the end where there is a nice take on one of the Prince’s.


WikiLeaks and The Australian article by Assange

Tuesday, December 07, 10 (11:26 pm)IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide ‘s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.” 

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia , was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US , citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia , to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan . NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US

Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay . Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

Tuesday, December 07, 10 (09:55 pm)Julian Assange has written an Op-Ed, to be published in The Australian tomorrow. It was due to go live at midnight AEST, and it is already in early editions of the newspaper, due on the streets at 2am. 

Now we hear reports that Mr Assange has been arrested. I have permission from my Editor in Chief to publish a snippet of what will go live at midnight.

Mr Assange begins by saying:  `In 1958, a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: `In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.’’

It goes on to say a few more things about freedom of speech; the `dark days’ of corrupt government in Queensland (where Assange was raised); the Fitzgerald inquiry; and it says much about his upbringing in a country town, “where people spoke their minds bluntly.’’

It says that Australian politicians are chanting a “provably false chorus’’ with the US State Department of “You’ll risk lives! You’ll endanger troops!’’ by releasing information, and “then they say there is nothing of importance in what Wikileaks publishes. It can’t be both.’’

I do not know where the Australian got it; whether Mr Assange contacted us or the other way around. I think I can also say it’s a passionate defence of his methods, and his goals. That’s all I have for now.


WikiLeaks – the game is about to begin

I do not know if julian Assange committed an offence in Sweden – but I suspect he did not. It is evidently a set-up, a sham. The fact that he has voluntarily presented himself to UK police shows he knows there is no point in hiding. He is an Australian and the Australian newspaper is to publish a piece by him in a few hours at

according to a report on the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government can’t decide what to do:

Julia Gillard can’t say how WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has broken the law

  • From:AAP
  • December 07, 2010 12:41PM
  • JULIA Gillard has failed to name any Australian laws broken by the controversial WikiLeaks website or its founder Julian Assange.

Western governments have called for Mr Assange to be stopped as WikiLeaks continues to publish more than 250,000 confidential documents from the United States State Department.

But asked directly what Australian laws had been broken by either WikiLeaks or Mr Assange, an Australian, Ms Gillard said the Australian Federal Police were investigating.

“The foundation stone of it is an illegal act,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra.

But the “foundation stone” was the leaking of the documents to the website, not the publishing of the cables.

“It would not happen, information would not be on WikiLeaks, if there had not been an illegal act undertaken,” Ms Gillard said.

Related Coverage

Mr Assange’s lawyers have said they are considering defamation action against Ms Gillard after she accused the whistleblower of “illegal” conduct over the leak of US documents.

However Jennifer Robinson, one of Mr Assange’s legal team, this morning conceded that taking action against Ms Gillard for potentially defamatory comments was no longer a priority.

It is widely assumed the man responsible for the leaks is a US soldier who is already imprisoned for previous leaks.

“It’s grossly irresponsible and anybody who looks at the pages of today’s newspaper and sees that things like critical infrastructure lists are being put on WikiLeaks … would understand how grossly irresponsible this is,” Ms Gillard said.

A classified cable listing infrastructure critical to the US was published by the site yesterday.

The list included some Australian-based infrastructure including the already widely known undersea telecommunications cable – the Southern Cross Cable.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis accused Ms Gillard of being “clumsy” with her language on the issue of illegality.

“As far as I can see, he (Mr Assange) hasn’t broken any Australian law,” he told Sky News.

“Nor does it appear he has broken any American laws.”

Senator Brandis, a Queen’s Counsel, called for any debate about the publishing of the cables to have a well-defined understanding of the difference between something which appeared to be morally wrong and an act which was illegal.

“As far as I can see, nothing Mr Assange has done does break the law.”


lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework Wikileaks

The US empire tries to censor and it will fail

It is by now quite clear that the US is behind efforts to smother WikiLeaks, see this link

but why? Democracy is based on the idea that all people should have access to information, All that is happening is that an internet site is distributing that information gratis. So what? If democracies have so much to hide then they are not democracies.

I can see little difference to what is happening now to what happened when Beijing smothered an outbreak of democracy with its tanks.

The US does not rule the world. Neither does WikiLeaks. We do. People. Individuals.

Those who placed their trust in President Obama must be mighty disappointed.


WikiLeaks – from Simon Jenkins/Guardian

Is it justified? Should a newspaper disclose virtually all a nation’s secret diplomatic communication, illegally downloaded by one of its citizens? The reporting in the Guardian of the first of a selection of 250,000 US state department cables marks a recasting of modern diplomacy. Clearly, there is no longer such a thing as a safe electronic archive, whatever computing’s snake-oil salesmen claim. No organisation can treat digitised communication as confidential. An electronic secret is a contradiction in terms.

Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be “world policeman” – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. Nonetheless, the Guardian had to consider two things in abetting disclosure, irrespective of what is anyway published by WikiLeaks. It could not be party to putting the lives of individuals or sources at risk, nor reveal material that might compromise ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.

In this light, two backup checks were applied. The US government was told in advance the areas or themes covered, and “representations” were invited in return. These were considered. Details of “redactions” were then shared with the other four media recipients of the material and sent to WikiLeaks itself, to establish, albeit voluntarily, some common standard.

The state department knew of the leak several months ago and had ample time to alert staff in sensitive locations. Its pre-emptive scaremongering over the weekend stupidly contrived to hint at material not in fact being published. Nor is the material classified top secret, being at a level that more than 3 million US government employees are cleared to see, and available on the defence department’s internalSiprnet. Such dissemination of “secrets” might be thought reckless, suggesting a diplomatic outreach that makes the British empire seem minuscule.

The revelations do not have the startling, coldblooded immediacy of the WikiLeaks war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, with their astonishing insight into the minds of fighting men seemingly detached from the ethics of war. These disclosures are largely of analysis and high-grade gossip. Insofar as they are sensational, it is in showing the corruption and mendacity of those in power, and the mismatch between what they claim and what they do.

Few will be surprised to know that Vladimir Putin runs the world’s most sensational kleptocracy, that the Saudis wanted the Americans to bomb Iran, or that Pakistan’s ISI is hopelessly involved with Taliban groups of fiendish complexity. We now know that Washington knows too. The full extent of American dealings with Yemen might upset that country’s government, but is hardly surprising. If it is true that the Pentagon targeted refugee camps for bombing, it should be of general concern. American congressmen might also be interested in the sums of money given to certain foreign generals supposedly to pay for military equipment.

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment. If American spies are breaking United Nations rules by seeking the DNA biometrics of the UN director general, he is entitled to hear of it. British voters should know what Afghan leaders thought of British troops. American (and British) taxpayers might question, too, how most of the billions of dollars going in aid to Afghanistan simply exits the country at Kabul airport.

No harm is done by high-class chatter about President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vulgarity and lack of house-training, or about the British royal family. What the American embassy in London thinks about the coalition suggests not an alliance at risk but an embassy with a talent problem.

Some stars shine through the banality such as the heroic envoy in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. She pleads that Washington’s whole policy is counterproductive: it “risks destabilising the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and the military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis without finally achieving the goal”. Nor is any amount of money going to bribe the Taliban to our side. Patterson’s cables are like missives from the Titanic as it already heads for the bottom.

The money‑wasting is staggering. Aid payments are never followed, never audited, never evaluated. The impression is of the world’s superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden. Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the United Nations, are all perpetually off script. Washington reacts like a wounded bear, its instincts imperial but its power projection unproductive.

America’s foreign policy is revealed as a slave to rightwing drift, terrified of a bomb exploding abroad or of a pro-Israeli congressman at home. If the cables tell of the progress to war over Iran or Pakistan or Gaza or Yemen, their revelation might help debate the inanity of policies which, as Patterson says, seem to be leading in just that direction. Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await a Chilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public’s interest, I fail to see what is.

Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed. Where it is doing the right thing, a great power should be robust against embarrassment.

What this saga must do is alter the basis of diplomatic reporting. If WikiLeaks can gain access to secret material, by whatever means, so presumably can a foreign power. Words on paper can be made secure, electronic archives not. The leaks have blown a hole in the framework by which states guard their secrets. The Guardian material must be a breach of the official secrets acts. But coupled with the penetration already allowed under freedom of information, the walls round policy formation and documentation are all but gone. All barriers are permeable. In future the only secrets will be spoken ones. Whether that is a good thing should be a topic for public debate.



WikiLeaks – please read this link“to-destroy-this-invisible-government”/#


WikiLeaks and PayPal

PayPal has decided WikiLeaks is too hot and has ‘suspended’ it. Apparently WikiLeaks is engaged in ‘illegal’ activity! PayPal is owned by eBay. I would suggest a boycott of both.

Lucky I got in last night then (and for those who wish to donate use their email address shown below – or the New York Times website link below suggests an alternative).

Hello John Pitt,

This email confirms that you have donated €xxxxxx  EUR to Wau-Holland-Stiftung ( using PayPal.
This credit card transaction will appear on your bill as “PAYPAL *WAUHOLLANDS”.

Donation Details

Confirmation number: 9BC35857K89141517
Donation amount: xxxxxx
Total: xxxxxx
Purpose: Wau-Holland-Stiftung
Reference: Wikileaks / WHS Projekt 04
Contributor: John Pitt

Recipient information

Donations coordinator: Wau-Holland-Stiftung
Contact email:

WikiLeaks – see these links

The first to a Guardian q+A ; the second to an article by Harold Evans in the FT

Thoughts on lettering Wikileaks

WikiLeaks and freedom of expression

Ok, this has nothing at all to do with lettering. But in a time when so called democracies shut down an internet site because they cannot think of anything else to do; when so called democracies seek to trump up charges against an individual because they run frightened; then it is time for all of us to shout ENOUGH. I had heard that the WikiLeaks domain name had been ‘withdrawn’ by its Californian host because of so-called ‘cyber attacks’. Attacks presumably driven by US intelligence. When it was suggested a CH address had been opened I went there to be told by Safari that

Safari Icon

Safari can’t open the page.

Safari can’t open the page “” because the server where this page is located isn’t responding. [but see below – updated 4/12/2010]

F*** me. What is going on! Perhaps the US intelligence, run by President Barrack Obama, a Noble Peace Prize winner, can explain that. Perhaps they will shut me down for being such a rebel….

And when you read such tripe from the right-wing UK press such as this

ones heart sinks. But remember the Daily Mail is about as Fascist as you can get in Britain without actually being charged for Treason. As a journalist I find myself disgusted at how naive other journalists can be. But I have to remember that they sold their souls long ago.

We have entered, almost unknowingly, a new paradigm. Hello world without frontiers – this is democracy folks. Get used to it…

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4th – WikiLeaks site now available again at

Note – The image is the rear of a headstone I carved: the sentiments are appropriate.