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DAVID ROSMAN: How do we define a journalist?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 10:38 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wikileaks has become the new and sometimes confusing name in journalistic lexicons. A student defined them as a “secret website that posts secret information from government and corporate organizations for us to read.” It is the best description I heard since June, when I first learned about Wikileaks.

I, frankly, do not care about the sexual exploits of Wikileaks’ founder and mysterious leader, Julian Paul Assange.

I am concerned about the United States’ attempts to find something, anything, to charge Assange with so he can be brought to trial and jailed in the U.S. This raises a number of questions that the courts will need to answer.

Mark Stephens, attorney for Assange and Wikileaks, said the United States had "a secretly impaneled grand jury in Alexandria (Va.)." This may be a misunderstanding of American law. A spokesperson for the American Bar Association confirmed something I already knew: All grand juries are essentially "secret."  The names of those impaneled, the proceedings and the testimony are held in confidence. A spokesperson at the United States Department of Justice said that federal grand jury proceedings are kept confidential and the department did nothing different concerning the Assange hearing than any other federal grand jury.  That includes not putting out a news release.

The grand jury will determine if there is enough evidence that Assange had violated the “Espionage Act [18 U.S.C. § 793 : US Code - Section 793 (e)] for disseminating classified U.S. State Department cables and other information,” so the case could go to trial. Stephens and others have said they believe that Wikileaks and Assange are journalists and fall under an exception to the law.

How do we define “journalist,” not only Assange, but all who take it upon their “profession” to report on information received from a third party? Remember the Pentagon Papers? How about Watergate?

Are citizen journalists for this and other “traditional” news outlets, including Internet outlets, considered “journalists” because we abide by a long and sacred tradition of fact checks and editing? Or do we, and I include myself here, fall under a category that includes the political-conspiracy radical blog sites like WorldNetDaily.com?

Most definitions seem out of date, including Princeton University’s, which limits "journalist” to “a writer for newspapers and magazines,” seemingly not including online publications and blog sites. Wikipedia, which includes Internet sites, says a journalist is a person who “collects and disseminates information” and is acknowledged as a journalist. Who does the acknowledgement? Peers? Readership? Courts?

Back to Wikileaks. U.S. Supreme Court case of New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), is often cited as the ruling which allows the press to print such documents. The arguments in favor were best stated by associate justice Hugo Black, who wrote, “The word ‘security’ is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.”

In Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001), the Supreme Court said that the dissemination of information by the press obtained through “illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.”

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), provides for a test of a “clear and present danger” as it concerns an exception to the First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and the press.

The federal grand jury has a lot on its hands, and the courts will have an even bigger plate. First, is Assange a journalist, is Wikileaks a news outlet, and how does the court define both terms?

Second, is the First Amendment all-inclusive, or are there exceptions such as the “clear and present danger"?

As citizens, you need to be aware of the scope and limits the court will be dealing with if Assange and Wikileaks are charged. Will the court apply new limitations to our right to be a fully informed public? Will the courts limit who is and is not a journalist? Are InkandVoice.com or WorldNetDaily.com journalistic publications? Will the courts weasel out of their charge by limiting their decisions to Wikileaks only?

Watch closely, my friends. Another sedition act may be coming through the judicial system.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.

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Comments

Michael Williams December 15, 2010 | 9:54 a.m.

I've seen only a smattering of the leaked information, and that has been solely from news sources. So far, I've seen no activities that are different than what any other government does in the world...gather information on other governmental personnel, whether potential adversaries or not. Information is critical to current and future decision-making; I'm sure China, England, and Iceland are just as interested in Hillary Clinton as we are in their governmental folks.

And, I believe "embarrassment" is no cause for prosecution.

BUT, I've not seen all the information plus I'm incapable of deciding what information (1) endangers our ability to protect ourselves, and (2) endangers citizens, sources, and operatives. I doubt journalists have a well-cultivated ability for this, either, but I'll concede that...through their contacts...they are probably in a better position to know when the information is getting a bit dangerous.

(I also I think American journalists sometimes forget they are Americans, which hasn't fostered the level of "trustworthy-ness" to which they aspire from the citizenry, but that's another topic for another time).

I think governments tend to "over-secretize" their information, but I think journalists tend to underestimate potential dangers to real security for nations and individuals in the interests of a really good "Gotcha!".

Thus, I believe it only proper that a 3rd-party, secret grand jury investigate unauthorized releases of "secret" information. Through testimony of the various interested and expert parties, I think such a jury (sworn to secrecy) or trusted judge would have a much better chance of determining whether an information release threatened security or lives.

And, if it IS determined that the information compromised individual or collective security, or if operative/citizen lives are lost directly or indirectly from release of such information....the leaker and the dissiminator (if found guilty of espionage or treason) should be hung by the neck until dead, or lined up against a wall and shot.

Journalists receive a great gift from we, the citizenry, via our Constitution....the "freedom" of the press. But, our gift is not unlimited: You may NOT aid our destruction, else you...too...will be held accountable.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 15, 2010 | 10:36 a.m.

So then Mike, since you stated you are unqualified to judge what information endangers anyone, what makes you think that a jury selected of citizens much as yourself is? Also, you might consider the lives that have been protected by the release of some of that information. I know from your ramblings and from your style of debate that you are certainly not above having a moral lapse when it suits your purposes, and you feel that it is imperative for your government to follow your example, but it isn't established that many, if any, of the wrongdoings made transparent were actually in your best interest. You are eager to slide your countrymen down a slippery slope. You have an inherent trust in the dishonesty of your government.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2010 | 4:36 p.m.

Well, Paul....if you would re-read my missive, you would discover that the reason I do not have the ability to interpret the dangers of leaks is that I don't have the evidence and testimony. A jury would have a much better chance. See my #6 paragraph if you're still confused.

I won't respond to the other insults....your insults are your own for all to see.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 15, 2010 | 4:51 p.m.

"(I also I think American journalists sometimes forget they are Americans, which hasn't fostered the level of "trustworthy-ness" to which they aspire from the citizenry, but that's another topic for another time)."

I think this paragraph that you wrote shows how my "insults" apply to YOU. You wish that journalists would lie and omit facts regularly because they need to root for the home team. Whatever it does. No matter how wrong. No matter how disgraceful. Then they would be "trustworthy". Because we all know that we all are the good guys and that they all are the bad guys. Go sip on your homemade alcohol. This is another topic for another time.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 15, 2010 | 4:54 p.m.

"(I also I think American journalists sometimes forget they are Americans, which hasn't fostered the level of "trustworthy-ness" to which they aspire from the citizenry, but that's another topic for another time)."

I think this paragraph that you wrote shows how my "insults" apply to YOU. You wish that journalists would lie and omit facts regularly because they need to root for the home team. Whatever it does. No matter how wrong. No matter how disgraceful. Then they would be "trustworthy". Because we all know that we all are the good guys and that "they" all are the bad guys.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2010 | 5:02 p.m.

Careful, Paul.....you're too excited, and your finger is getting "twitchy" with multiple posts.

You, sir, are simply not worth debating...for a lot of reasons visible to many. I'll join the crowd in not responding to you in this forum, starting now.

(Nice try in changing the subject from your original complaint, tho.)

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 15, 2010 | 5:40 p.m.

I would expect no less of a cop out from someone whose ethics in debate is as low as yours. Change the subject? I got it from YOUR post. Go ahead and crawl into the corner you wish upon everyone else if it suits your style. I'm going to first apologize for the double post and then expound on your level of ignorance.
There are many levels of ignorance. I will start with the most benign...
Level one: the admittedly ignorant. I generally have no problem with these people since they know their shortcomings... usually.
Level two: the assertive ignoramus. I tolerate these people as long as they accept correction. They are more dangerous than the first. Lynch mobs are generally formed of these people.
Level three: the stubborn ignoramus. These people continue to have knee jerk reactions based on their erroneous assumptions and continue them long after it has been shown that their assumptions are ungrounded. They are dangerous.
Level four: the conscious ignoramus. There is a fine line between level three and four. To be a level four one has to have at least a small level of cognition of his or her shortcomings yet fail to make any improvement.
Level five: the willful ignoramus. This person is able to revert to level three almost without any conscious effort but later can recall perfectly the fact that his or her reactions are based on false assumptions. The person fails to care because the temporary lapse of judgment suits his or her perceived purposes.
Level six: the proud ignoramus. This is a person who has progressed through all five lower levels with aplomb and now enjoys diminishing the tranquility of any educated mind with vile crass unintelligent comments. Mostly, this is what Mike does when he pretends to be folksy. While the proud ignoramus is no more dangerous than a common stubborn ignoramus, largely because he or she is making such a disgusting ass of oneself that others are likely to notice, they can be persistent and this in itself is troublesome.
Level seven: the activist ignoramus. This is one who not only wishes to maintain his or her ignorance but foster the same on others. He or she might be found advocating the execution by firing squad someone who points up the corruption and dishonesty of any part of his or her government. He or she might be on the tarmac with a paper shredder looking for an opportunity to destroy literature that he or she would like you not to read. He would like for the press not to say anything unflattering about his country. Except if it is about a democrat. He would rather impugn another party than engage in an honest debate. While at or near the top of the food chain of ignoramuses he is at the lowest order of humanity.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 15, 2010 | 7:44 p.m.

Paul - The members of a grand jury, or any jury for that matter, have a lot more information to work on then the average citizen who relies on rumors and undocumented "facts." And that is what Mike said in his original comment.

Mike - So, you believe that sometimes I forget that I am an American? News to me. The problem is what is "trustworthy" to one is not to someone else. The reason, as noted by many of my peers, is that many of the respondents never read past the first paragraph and do not take the time to verify the information their gut is saying is wrong. If Fox/CNBC/NYTimes/WSJ/the Internet said so, it must be true. This is what makes sited like WorldNetDaily scary. They are the supermarket tabloiod of the Internet, yet people believe without question.

I am really happy that the two of you are so active on this and Karl's columns. It makes us feel wanted.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 15, 2010 | 8:12 p.m.

David - I fear that a grand jury may have an attention span similar to how you characterize (accurately) at least some portion of anyone's readers. I remember reading your said fears about my use of critical thought and while offended I must admit that I have the same fear regarding a grand jury. Of course I have not knowingly read anything written by them, so this is largely speculative.
I'm thinking that a group of people allegedly selected at half random are likely no match for a group of "experts" hired at will by some "servant" of your government and that they most likely know it. The result may well be a "Well I don't know about it but that guy up there sure seems to and he said ..." My other fear is that a few people like I just described in my previous post may get selected for the jury and vote their emotions regardless of anything they might learn or observe if they could. The result? Not good.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear December 15, 2010 | 8:47 p.m.

Bloggers aren't journalists.

Journalists, at least the good ones, have ethics.

Bloggers will throw any rumor online just for web site hits. The truth seems to escape many of them in their quest for a cause, and their pocketbooks, at many turns. That is not journalism.

Then a few excitable readers read the blog, believe it as true, start to twitter and facebook the story, and then everybody is doing it. It explodes exponentially across the Net, and suddenly, it becomes news.

It a sad, sad thing. And it will only get worse. There is no country, in the whole wide world, whose legal system is going to control what is put online in another country. And it isn't hard to setup a web server or blog in any country, no matter where you live (unless you live in China). So slander and libel suits are pretty much out.

There is a good rule of thumb on the Net: Don't believe even 10 percent of what you read there, especially from a blogger. You'll be right more often than your wrong.

And don't tweet it out to thousands of people, or post it on facebook, just because you think your the first person to 'find out' this amazing information.

You might want to check the facts, before you do that. As the article tried to point out above, albeit not well, real journalists do get the facts before publishing a story, in any publishing form.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2010 | 8:58 p.m.

David: In my 61 years (well, ok, only 41 of those count since that's when I started paying attention), I have seen American journalists do/write/say/report things that just cause me to shake my head in disgust. It hasn't happened often....rarely, in fact....but when it happens I'm confident that some where, some how, some place, someone got killed or hurt because a smart reader/listener of that information was able to figure stuff out.

I'm no journalist, but I'd imagine that a good journalist sometimes has to make decisions about whether to publish sensitive information or not. And the reason they have this conflict is because they are actually trying to discern the consequences of their actions. The problem is....they often are completely unqualified to make this assessment. So, some journalists roll the dice and take someone else's chances...which is easy to do when you feel immune to significant negative consequences except, perhaps, the loss of a bit more public trust.

My question to you is this....Are there ANY circumstances where the simple fact that you are an American would cause you to NOT publish certain information?

If your answer is "no", then you are one of those journalists I am talking about.

If your answer is "yes", then I'm not talking about you and you have no need to be offended....except in defense of those who would answer "no".....sort of a "good ol' boys club" thingie.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2010 | 9:06 p.m.

David, in your last column you wrote, "There is a growing distrust in our news services by the public, government and citizens. Distrust that someone might be telling the “truth” through honest and exacting research. The “truth,” it seems, is something too many citizens do not want to hear."
__________________________

There is some truth in those words.

But, it is also true that many of us believe the following statement is sometimes correct: Distrust that someone might be telling [a “lie”] through [dis]honest and [in]exacting research [due to an unstated bias].

I've seen it happen, and in one case it was very personal.

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 15, 2010 | 11:31 p.m.

Rape isn't a "sexual exploit" -- what an odd and offensive comment. (I'm not saying Assange is guilty, but this is one of the allegations against him.)

Like me, some bloggers are former journalists. I got my bachelor of journalism from Mizzou in '81.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 16, 2010 | 6:29 a.m.

We appear to have reached the first of two critical "tipping points" regarding print and broadcast journalism: The public is struggling to distinguish between what is journalism and what is sensationalism.

The second tipping point, should it ever be reached, ought to frighten any ethical journalist*. It will occur when the public NO LONGER CARES whether what's being presented is journalism or sensationalism.

*- There's something odd about a profession that spends an inordinate amount of time in discussions about ethics.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2010 | 9:17 a.m.

Ellis: I think your 6:29am post is spot-on. None of us can accurately define "news" and "sensationalism", but we all know it when we see it, lol.

You commented there is something "odd" about a profession that spends so much time discussing ethics. That's an interesting take on things which certainly provokes much thought. Mine are not crystallized on the matter, but there is one thing I DO know: Everyone, even me, has an agenda. The agenda may be benign, malicious, or helpful. When it comes to the news I need and depend upon, I want to know the underlying agenda. There are good reasons our legal system relies so much on this thing called "motive"; unless "motive" is known and understood, there is no hope of discerning "truth".

News folks like to think (or want us to think) they are simply unbiased reporters of information....a "Just the facts, ma'am" sort of thingie....a Constitutional island of "purity" in a human sea of hidden motives and agendas.

And I don't think that is true. Journalists, I am told, are human, too.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 16, 2010 | 10:39 a.m.

You can belittle and impugn the journalist in question all you want, but at the end of the day you all must remind yourselves of one thing. Your beloved state department says that what the individual posted were and are true. Otherwise, we wouldn't be discussing this.

So Yves, go blog somewhere.

Suzie, do you not find it odd that these complaints did not surface until the individual in question was in the spotlight? Do you not find it odd that what the accusers admitted was consensual sex is now somehow twisted to be rape? I think that the right wing in this country has set a goal of making a mockery of anyone's legal system any time it suits somebody's agenda and feels confident in it's ability based on the perceived stupidity of everyone watching. Can't get him for a crime? Let's prove that he had sex!!! Someone without an attention span will be stupid enough to feign indignation. (send him to IRAQ!!!) Come to think of it, there probably was a point in the early eighties when you failed to use a condom. So be careful what you say here. Very careful.

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 16, 2010 | 8:16 p.m.

Paul, it's common for a person's misdeeds -- or alleged misdeeds -- to make headlines once he becomes well-known. Can you imagine a scenario in which reporters would NOT have mentioned the allegations once Assange's face was everywhere?

Swedish prosecutors faced a problem: Some people were going to howl if they dropped the investigation or if they gave it no priority. In other words, if they decided to do nothing until Assange decided to come back to Sweden. Instead, they chose to go after him with Interpol to resolve the case.

Regarding what the women said: Apparently, you've believed whatever Assange's many lawyers have said. You can't just accept what one side says. Although the exact statements of the women haven't been made public, the Guardian and the NYT have summarized them by saying that both women insisted they wanted him to use a condom. They consented ONLY to sex with a condom. The first woman said the condom broke, but he pinned her arms and used his body weight to hold her down so that he could continue. The second said he had sex with her without a condom while she was sleeping.

Sweden has no law against sex without a condom. But it does require informed consent.

Forcing a woman to have sex without a condom or doing so when she can't give consent (whether she's too drunk, she's sleeping, whatever) causes huge health problems for women worldwide, including unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. It's a shame that so many men think rape is a side issue that distracts from the topics that do interest them.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote December 16, 2010 | 10:27 p.m.

@Mr. Williams,
What do you think of the Pentagon papers...should Ellsberg have been shot for treason?

Journalists (wikileaks included)and their publications (blogs included) are the only mechanism through which the citizenry of a democracy are informed. The notion that we should only have "patriotic" journalists is absurd. How is it beneficial to have a less informed electorate? A wikileaks dump in 2002 perhaps could have provided a much needed push-back to the media's uncritical endorsement of the Bush administration's desire for war. Quite a few people are regretting that decision in hindsight. One can imagine what the classified cables of 2002 say about "curveball", our source for much state approved misinformation.

Ellsberg supports Wikileaks action, and with good reason. Here's Ellsberg informing Kissinger about what it means to have access to our government's most classified information and how it corrupts one's analysis:
http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/0...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 17, 2010 | 9:45 a.m.

Christopher Foote asks: "What do you think of the Pentagon papers...should Ellsberg have been shot for treason?"
___________________________

In the particular case you cited, no. He was close, tho.

I did not say we should only have "patriotic" journalists; you've taken my comments way too far, as though journalists should be Pravda clones, reporting only the favorable stuff. Not at all.

I'm simply saying that American journalists are Americans, too, and they do not give up their rights and obligations of citizenship the day they decided to become journalists. Simply put, there is information that is so sensitive, so secret, that a release of such information can and will result in deaths of American citizens. I say that journalists have the obligation to NOT report such information, even if that information is considered "news".

The decision of whether to "report" or "not report" is not an easy one. Part of the decision journalists have to make is "How close to someone's death do I want to be?" In other words, a journalist may not want to report the identification of a CIA operative in a hostile country (that would be TOO close to a death), but may decide to report "news" that prolongs a battle or war (rather distantly and more comfortably removed from death).

So, my question still remains unanswered by the author of this paper or you or anyone else: If you are a journalist, are there ANY circumstances where the simple fact that you are an American would cause you to NOT publish certain information?

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 17, 2010 | 12:03 p.m.

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people"- John F. Kennedy

http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ld7y05...

Remember, Wikileaks does not just release information about the US. They release information about any country and any organization that the people have a right to know about. So far they have released documents on over 150 countries and many more organizations. They have covered stories on torture, human rights violations, war crimes, child prostitution and much more. If we dare to prosecute anyone at Wikileaks for the release of the cables then we must also prosecute those named in the cables for their crimes or we will be forfeiting our integrity and respect. This includes almost every high ranking US official over the past few decades for war crimes and human rights violations. Or is America full of enough hypocrites and evil to go after the people spreading the truth in order to protect themselves from facing the justice that they deserve? It is disgusting that instead of focusing on the actual leaks and the horrible things that are in them we are focusing on who released them. Assange did nothing except be part of an organization that provided people with the information that they should have already have. Americans should also remember that the Federal government has no explicit constitutional right to keep ANY information from us. We only allow them to do so and it is about time we starting reigning that ability in.

@ Suzie

“It's a shame that so many men think rape is a side issue that distracts from the topics that do interest them.”

Suzie, the shame here is what these two women are doing. Rape is a horrific crime, second only to murder. I agree that it is taken far too lightly in our society and we need to do something about it. However, if you can’t see past the sham that these two women are running then you are blinded by your pre-conceived notions. Let’s look at the facts:
1. Anna Hardin (the accuser) is a former CIA contractor.
2. Anna Hardin has already left Sweden and is no longer co-operating with the prosecution.
3. Anna Hardin sent tweets and text messages after the alleged incident that clear Assange of any wrong doing. She attempted to delete them but failed to do so. This evidence was presented in Assange’s bail hearings in England.
4. Hardin wrote blogs in the past about how to use a rape charge as a means to get revenge against a man.
These “rape” charges are nothing more than a way for the US to keep Assange in one place long enough for their lawyers to come up with some ridiculous charge to get him extradited to the States.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 17, 2010 | 12:27 p.m.

Jack:

So far, I've only heard stuff embarrassing to diplomats that all countries do to each other as a part of "knowing your enemy".

But, you mentioned "horrible things."

What horrible things? Please elaborate. There may be info in these recent leaks I don't know about.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 17, 2010 | 4:38 p.m.

Well, gee. Case in point:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/...

It happens, folks.

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 17, 2010 | 6:57 p.m.

Jack, I hope you're not a journalist.
1. Where's the proof? She did her master's thesis on Cuba and interviewed many dissidents. She especially spent time with the Ladies in White, whose husbands and sons - many of whom are writers and artists - are political prisoners. Don't make me discredit the CounterPunch article that started all this. Research one of the authors, who has worked for WikiLeaks.
2. I've also heard that she went to help Palestinians, a trip she had planned. I haven't seen proof that she is actually there, but even if she is, where's the proof that she's no longer cooperating with prosecutors?
3. This is a claim by Assange's lawyers. I know she did send messages about her excitement at being around so many smart and famous people. But that isn't proof that she's lying about her assault allegations. Many women who are raped by a date or an acquaintance blame themselves first. I know I did three decades ago when I was a newspaper intern. Lots of women in this situation can't quite believe that a man they liked and trusted would do this.
4. Hardin put a Swedish translation of an English article on getting revenge on her blog months before she met Assange. She didn't write it. But even if she did, even if she believes in getting revenge, that doesn't automatically mean that Assange is innocent.

If Anna Ardin and the other women are working for the U.S. government, why wouldn't they have come up with a better case? They could have injured themselves; they could have run screaming down the street to the police.

If you'll refrain from prejudging the women, I won't say that I'm certain that Assange has a history of stalking and slandering women, and that he's now using WikiLeaks and its donations to escape a rape charge.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 17, 2010 | 7:56 p.m.

Say Mike, what case are you trying to make? I don't see any evidence that wikileaks "outed" this guy. From reading the article you posted, (Did YOU read it?), it seems that the guy was using journalists to spread the propaganda that his agency wished to disseminate to the masses and that one of them grew a conscience.
Seems you're ok with the missiles killing civilians part tho...

Suzie...
"If Anna Ardin and the other women are working for the U.S. government, why wouldn't they have come up with a better case? They could have injured themselves; they could have run screaming down the street to the police."

Then the police would have taken them to the hospital, examined their wounds and attempted to get a DNA sample, invalidating any claims. Also, wouldn't it be Anna Ardin and the other WOMAN? Also, this would have required them being in the same country and general area as he at the time of the alleged incident, quite possibly one where they would get less favorable cooperation.

"Hardin put a Swedish translation of an English article on getting revenge on her blog months before she met Assange. She didn't write it. But even if she did, even if she believes in getting revenge, that doesn't automatically mean that Assange is innocent."

Did you really think that she would have put that on AFTER meeting him? How about after making the claim against him? Why would somebody put ANYTHING like that on a blog? Do you have that on your blog? What a scuzzy cheap nasty evil thing to have on a blog. Why is it not against the law to have something like that on a blog??? Lawyers like it. It creates work.
One guy exposes the scuzzy cheap nasty evil malicious things that your government does on his blog while the other posts tips on how to do scuzzy cheap nasty evil malicious things. Guess which one I favor.

"Many women who are raped by a date or an acquaintance blame themselves first. I know I did three decades ago when I was a newspaper intern. Lots of women in this situation can't quite believe that a man they liked and trusted would do this."

Don't you think that this can tint your perspective?

"She did her master's thesis on Cuba and interviewed many dissidents. She especially spent time with the Ladies in White, whose husbands and sons - many of whom are writers and artists - are political prisoners.I've also heard that she went to help Palestinians, a trip she had planned."

That sounds like a lot of hot spots for someone to be in. These are definitely places of interest for the us government. Very interesting...

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 19, 2010 | 7:40 p.m.

Paul, yes, you're right, I meant the singular "other woman."

Rape victims shouldn't have their claims dismissed because of lack of DNA evidence. Some rapists use condoms. Some clean up their victims afterward.

Ardin put a translated version of an eHow article on her blog. It discusses LEGAL ways to take revenge in a light-hearted fashion. It starts out by saying it's better to forgive than to take revenge. Don't make revenge out of proportion to what was done to you. It never says a woman should claim rape even if she's had the worst sex of her life. (Cf, the latest from the Guardian.) http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/20...

You wrote: "Don't you think that this [my being raped] can tint your perspective?" Yes, it tints my perspective a light chartreuse. OK, I'm guessing you meant "taint." Are you suggesting that someone with first-hand experience and knowledge is too biased to write about something? That would mean that someone who has been a victim of any crime should not write about crime. A military veteran shouldn't write about the military or veterans? A person of color should not write about racial discrimination, but a white person could?

I've traveled a lot in Latin America. Maybe I'm a spy, too.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 19, 2010 | 8:31 p.m.

By all means you should write a book about your experience. However, I observe that neither of us have any firsthand knowledge regarding the claims of either of these women. I also observe that you have prejudged the accused. You certainly don't think that if this had happened locally that a defense attorney would allow you to sit on the jury. Do you?
The level of outrage you express against someone who hasn't even yet been charged with a crime indicates that you are viewing the world through chartreuse colored glasses.
You aren't a spy and you aren't a journalist.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 19, 2010 | 8:34 p.m.

And, in light of your experience, I should apologize for the joke I made about how you might have failed to use a condom in the early eighties. I had no idea. I should be careful about what I say here. Very careful.

(But that isn't my way.)

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 19, 2010 | 8:42 p.m.

And I might also add that my perspective is colored by the fact that I have been falsely accused of something by a what is possibly the most worthless example of a person that I know of, over politics. When this is cleared there will be no action taken against what I believe is another false accuser, because there never is. Lawyers are eager enough for work that they generally don't mind when someone is overzealous to the point that they abuse the entire court system for the purpose of their vendetta. Nobody cares.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 19, 2010 | 9:54 p.m.

I do find it kind of peculiar that Mr. Assange has been accused of these crimes right after his latest "leakage". The timing was REAL coincidental..

Suzie, I would not so staunchly defend these two women just yet. It remains to be seen if these charges are true or if this was just an attempt to discredit, frame, and/or imprison Mr. Assange or worse. One of the points that you tried to make that I personally find a little ridiculous was that the two women could have been more "dramatic" about these alleged rapes if this was a "set up":

Suzie Siegel: "If Anna Ardin and the other women are working for the U.S. government, why wouldn't they have come up with a better case? They could have injured themselves; they could have run screaming down the street to the police."

This is the age of information with super wide and super fast media coverage. We no longer have to be so dramatic. Just an allegation is enough these days. There was no need for these women to injure themselves or run screaming through the streets; just the accusations alone were enough. Your assertion that dramatics would be needed to frame Mr. Assange is right out of some "Conspiracy Theory Movie". I think your question works against the defense of these women. Why weren't these women beat up if Mr. Assange did rape them? Is there any forensic evidence in these cases? How long did it take these women to come forward with these allegations after these alleged crimes occurred? For now, I am going to go with treating Mr. Assange as if he is not guilty, because I do happen to believe in the presumption of innocence, even for people charged with crimes in other countries. It would seem that you openly admit a particular bias in these cases, so I am not so sure we can rely on your judgment with regard to these particular allegations against Mr. Assange:

Suzie Siegel: "Many women who are raped by a date or an acquaintance blame themselves first. I know I did three decades ago when I was a newspaper intern."

Mr. Assange may be causing the USA some "discomfort"; but I don't think he is doing anything illegal. If he were, I am sure we would have figured out what to charge him with by now. He is not a U.S. Citizen and he is not on U.S. soil; so most of our "spying charges" can't be made. The espionage statute was passed in 1917 and it really does not fit this situation either. He is no more than a Mike Martin of the Columbia Heartbeat but on a much grander scale, and he is actually capable of gathering "interesting" and apparently accurate information; unlike Mike Martin. But rest assured, if Mike Martin could "gut" Columbia, MO. by gathering local government secrets that would be harmful he'd do just that; because he wants some recognition. Fortunately for all of us in Columbia, MO. he is just not smart enough to know how to do that. Mr. Assange feels like a threat because he actually knows how to illicit, gather, and disseminate sensitive information.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 20, 2010 | 5:35 p.m.

Paul, I'm a blogger now, which is more akin to being a columnist. As a blogger, I don't pretend to be neutral. I express my opinions. But I'm winding down that, too. I'm in remission from metastatic sarcoma, a condition considered terminal, and I have many health problems. I have no energy to write a book, and shouldn't be taking the time to argue on the Internet.

Lots of women have been raped, and many don't make that information public. So, in general, it's probably not wise to make jokes that trivialize rape around women unless your goal is to offend them.

I don't know if Assange is guilty, nor have I ever said he is. These are the things that make me angry: The incredible campaign to discredit his accusers, starting with his suggestion that they were part of a U.S. conspiracy. No attempt on his side to stop his supporters from releasing their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., to the point that the women were getting death threats and went into hiding. The number of men who think that rape, or "sexual exploits" as Rosman put it, is a distraction from more important topics.

I assume defense attorneys never allow rape victims to sit on juries judging rape cases.

Paul, you may want to clarify what you're accused of.

Women who make false accusations of rape can be prosecuted, but the difficulty in this case, as in others, is that there may be insufficient evidence to prove Assange raped the women, but there also may be insufficient evidence to prove the women lied.

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 20, 2010 | 5:36 p.m.

Ricky, did you not see my answer to Paul, re: my own "bias." Are you saying that any woman who has been raped, or experienced attempted rape, or experienced any sort of sexual assault is too biased to comment on rape cases? Does that mean men are more objective and unbiased in discussing rape because few of them have been raped?

In the next day or two, I'll be writing on the timing at echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com. If you want some suspicious timing, consider this: This year there was a lot of dissension among the ranks of WikiLeaks, according to former members who have gone public. They thought Assange was acting like a dictator, with insufficient concern for people who were hurt. This intensified after the accusations of rape in August.

Btw, the Guardian quotes the coordinator of WikiLeaks in Sweden as saying the first accuser is "very, very credible." At first, Assange says he has no idea who these women are, even though he's been in communication with the coordinator who has been trying to smooth things over.

Instead of simply saying this was a case of miscommunication or that the women were lying for revenge (an accusation made later), Assange accuses them of being government spies, trying to stop freedom. This pisses of WikiLeaks' colleagues even more because now the WikiLeaks Facebook and Twitter are being used to make accusations against the women.

The dissidents wanted Assange to step aside so that people wouldn't think Assange = WikiLeaks.

So, according to the Guardian and these dissenters, Assange decides secretly and unilaterally to dump the cables. The PR effect was to make him a hero on the Left, overshadowing other members of WikiLeaks as well as the actual whistleblower, presumed to be Private Manning.

The disinformation campaign continues, with Assange saying publicly that he never agreed to go back to Sweden (the Guardian says they have evidence he did), and that the reason he doesn't want to return is because the Swedish gov't is in thrall to the U.S. and will hand him over -- even though what WikiLeaks does is legal in Sweden; it's much easier to extradite from Britain to the U.S.; and Britain and the U.S. are considered closer allies.

All in all, I agree - the timing is suspicious.

If the women, the prosecutors, the Swedish government, and the opposition party are telling the truth when they say they are not puppets of the U.S., that would mean that Assange is the one who first made the accusations political and who is tying them to WikiLeaks.

In case you misunderstood, Ricky, I'm not arguing against the dissemination of information. As a reporter, I once was subpoenaed into federal court to say whether or not someone was my source in an investigative story.

Oh, wait, that experience may mean I'm biased in discussing whether or not Assange should have disseminated secret information.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 20, 2010 | 6:18 p.m.

Suzie,

I never posted on here that you could not comment or write about these alleged rapes, Suzie.. What I did communicate was that I am not sure that we can rely on your judgment regarding these charges against Mr. Assange...

Read for yourself:

Ricky Gurley: "It would seem that you openly admit a particular bias in these cases, so I am not so sure we can rely on your judgment with regard to these particular allegations against Mr. Assange."

You can comment and write all you want; after all that is your right. But, it is within the province of the listener or reader to determine if we should rely on your judgment with regard to what you are commenting or writing about.

You also say:

Suzie Siegel: "In case you misunderstood, Ricky, I'm not arguing against the dissemination of information. As a reporter, I once was subpoenaed into federal court to say whether or not someone was my source in an investigative story.

Oh, wait, that experience may mean I'm biased in discussing whether or not Assange should have disseminated secret information."

Well I don't know yet, Suzie. Tell us about that case, whether or not you eventually "outed" your source, and how you felt about it? Then I'll decide if you might be biased in that area or not.. It will be my own personal decision; of course..... ;o)

And about extradition... The countries really do not matter, either the US has an extradition treaty with a foreign country, or it does not. If it does and the criteria in that extradition treaty is met, then the country must oblige and allow extradition.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 20, 2010 | 6:40 p.m.

For everyone,

If you are interested in these issues with Mr. Assange there is a pretty decent source of information and graphical timelines on these issues that can be found here: http://www.dipity.com/

I use Dipity in some of my cases (I pay for an account). It has actually assisted my team in getting positive results in a few criminal defense cases. Sometimes the graphical timelines will allow you to see patterns and timing that could give you a better picture of what you are wanting to try to learn more about.

Enjoy.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 20, 2010 | 8:14 p.m.

"So, in general, it's probably not wise to make jokes that trivialize rape around women unless your goal is to offend them."
My joke centered around the fact that the environment we live in subjects us to the ability of others to make baseless accusations against us. I already apologized for it after you made your revelation. Quit playing your victim card.

"I don't know if Assange is guilty, nor have I ever said he is. These are the things that make me angry: The incredible campaign to discredit his accusers, starting with his suggestion that they were part of a U.S. conspiracy. No attempt on his side to stop his supporters from releasing their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., to the point that the women were getting death threats and went into hiding. The number of men who think that rape, or "sexual exploits" as Rosman put it, is a distraction from more important topics."
Had you not convicted him in your mind the first time you heard a news report we would not be having this conversation. Imagine, if you can, him being completely innocent of all allegations. What motive would he then have for shielding people who were then obviously running a smear campaign against him? Would he not be free to speculate that it was an attempt to muzzle him or his organization? How effective would be an attempt to stop his supporters? And you don't think that there are also women who think this is a distraction from the important topic? Or is this a battle of the sexes too? Who died and made you the decider of what topic is important?

"Women who make false accusations of rape can be prosecuted, but the difficulty in this case, as in others, is that there may be insufficient evidence to prove Assange raped the women, but there also may be insufficient evidence to prove the women lied."

However, our feeble minds generally place the needs of the baseless accuser over the rights of the innocent. I've been fairly down on Missouri because of way it's residents fail to think before they engage their opinions, but it seems that what passes for justice and due process over here is sometimes good over there in the "civilized world" as well.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 20, 2010 | 10:57 p.m.

And I guess the reason I am going to insist on discussing this issue some more is this...
First note the title of the article. The title of the article is defining what is a journalist. The subject is whether a person who publishes embarrassing things online is a journalist or not. It's a fairly simple straightforward question. Or at least is was. And then it had to become a question over what is and what isn't rape. And it had to become a question about whether he did or didn't rape her. Whether someone admits as much or not. And offered for evidence against an individual is the fact that he didn't stop people from posting things about her on the internet. Really?

Now let's pretend for a minute, once again that this was a smear campaign. Can you not see how effective it has already been. Julian Assange RAPED the pentagon's computers. Who knows what damage he has done? He is a lowlife common criminal! He poses as a protector but he has an evil motive! He will stop at nothing to get what he wants! He is a danger to society!

My mind is forced to remember the time when we bogged down as a nation and spent at least eight months deciding whether our commander in chief was fit to be president because he may or may not have gave or received a blowjob. I remember a drunk woman one time screaming at me about how she could never vote for a democrat again because of that horrible incident. And then someone derides another for not being a journalist. Well, maybe we didn't succeed in defining a journalist, but I've got an idea of what one is not!

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 20, 2010 | 11:37 p.m.

I am not sure that Mr. Assange honestly considers himself a journalist....

I think that he affords himself a certain amount of protection by proclaiming that what he is doing is protected under the freedom of the press...

What is "mysterious" about Mr. Assange is that nobody is really sure what his purpose is. But his "cause" seems greater than to just inform the public...

If I had to develop a strategy on how to deal with him; I'd ignore him completely, tighten up the penalties on stealing and releasing sensitive intelligence here at the home front, and set up a special federal task force devoted just to the investigation of the "leakage" of sensitive US Intelligence.

First, we have to understand that while Mr. Assange has garnered some attention with WikiLeaks, we have helped him get much more attention by making such a big deal out of WikiLeaks. All Mr. Assange did was give WikiLeaks a little push, and we helped it gain it's inertia from there.

All Mr. Assange did was exploit the weakest part of any intelligence apparatus; "the human factor". So to me the answer is to strengthen that "weak link" in the chain.

If I were making the decisions, I'd make sure that the USA did absolutely nothing to negatively impact Mr. Assange in any way. It goes without saying that whether we did or did not do anything to negatively impact him; we'd be blamed for it regardless in consideration of the timing. We DO know that there were calls made from certain people in our government to try to get his servers taken down, and his payment systems shut down. That did nothing to help the USA.

Sometimes the only way to win the game is to simply not play the game.....

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 21, 2010 | 7:16 a.m.

@ Michael

Sorry for the delay; I was on vacation. I saw your question about what “horrible” things has Wikileaks released and thought I would give a quick list. Remember there are millions of documents and cables and this is just a small sample; if Wikileaks continues to release at their current pace they won’t be done until 2019 and that is if they get no new documents until then.
(1) The U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;
(2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA's kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent; http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/01/wik...
(3) The State Department under Bush and Obama applied continuous pressure on the Spanish Government to suppress investigations of the CIA's torture of its citizens and the 2003 killing of a Spanish photojournalist when the U.S. military fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad
(4) The British Government privately promised to shield Bush officials from embarrassment as part of its Iraq War "investigation";
(5) There were at least 15,000 people killed in Iraq that were previously uncounted;
(6) "American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world" about the Iraq war as it was prosecuted, a conclusion the Post's own former Baghdad Bureau Chief wrote was proven by the WikiLeaks documents;
(7) the U.S.'s own Ambassador concluded that the July, 2009 removal of the Honduran President was illegal -- a coup -- but the State Department did not want to conclude that and thus ignored it until it was too late to matter; http://www.laprensa.hn/var/laprensa_site...
(8) U.S. and British officials colluded to allow the U.S. to keep cluster bombs on British soil even though Britain had signed the treaty banning such weapons,
(9) Hillary Clinton's State Department ordered diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data on U.N. and other foreign officials, almost certainly in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961.
(10) U.S. Tax Dollars Fund Child Sex Slavery in Afghanistan
(11) Shell Oil has infiltrated every ministry of the Nigerian Government with politicians on their payroll

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 21, 2010 | 10:37 a.m.

Oh, but you should listen to "Catherine" first...
..........................
Catherine
December 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Reply

GW students should beware not just of using wikileaks as source material for papers, but just looking at them. the government is dead serious about this as a breach of security and there being sensitive information dangerous to americans at home and abroad in those leaks. anyone who ever wants a clearance should consider the interests of those they seek to serve and respect those boundaries. don’t look at wikileaks.
....................
Are we clear on this boys and girls?

http://www.foboblo.com/2010/12/07/gwu-se...

What's that? They really didn't say it? Thank god for electronic media then!!! Why, that must have been a hacker!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 21, 2010 | 11:07 a.m.

This article seems to be more thorough about the warnings. So be careful boys and girls...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/04...

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 21, 2010 | 11:12 a.m.

Well Paul, I don't know who these "dipsticks" are; but I do know they are DIPSTICKS!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 21, 2010 | 11:12 a.m.

This article covers the same, but may be more in depth...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/04...

(Report Comment)
Suzie Siegel December 21, 2010 | 8:09 p.m.

No, I've never outed a source. Nor did I immediately think Assange was guilty. As to the idea that, because I was raped, I'm incapable of analyzing news stories involving rape -- for God's sake, take a journalism class. I'm done here.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 21, 2010 | 9:53 p.m.

Two very interesting takes on Assange, from two of my favorite sons of Albion, Rod "Seacole" Liddle, and Christopher Hitchens:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/rodliddle/656...

http://www.slate.com/id/2276857/

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 21, 2010 | 10:08 p.m.

Suzie,

You seem to be getting frustrated here... Personally, I don't understand why? I simply asked you a few questions, and gave my personal opinion as to the difference between advocating what you can post about, and what I have the right to make my own mind up about:

Ricky Gurley: "You can comment and write all you want; after all that is your right. But, it is within the province of the listener or reader to determine if we should rely on your judgment with regard to what you are commenting or writing about."

I think that is a pretty fair assessment....

I don't have to take a journalism class, Suzie. I have owned and managed a Private Investigation company that specializes in Criminal Defense Investigations, with what I believe to be a pretty decent success record for 10 years, and prior to that I was a Bail Recovery Agent for 13 years with over 3,000 bail exonerations to my credit in 43 states in the USA and 3 countries. So, I do understand a little about bias and impartiality. I also understand a little about what is within my province to choose to believe or disbelieve and why I choose to do so or not do so...

I don't see why you don't elaborate on the case you mentioned, you seemed to recommend that Paul Allaire clarify what he was accused of:

Suzie Siegel: "Paul, you may want to clarify what you're accused of."

So, I thought that I might recommend that you clarify what happened in the case you publicly mentioned on this forum. Seems fair to me.....

You know I do respect Journalists that practice with ethics and integrity. But, I would not hold on high a journalism degree or a journalism job above all other professional experience or professions..... I probably have a fair amount of experience in listening to and even testifying on cases in a court room, a better than cursory grasp of our laws, and certainly a good deal of experience with interviewing people, and careful analysis of people's statements.

Sorry if that offends you, for some reason......?

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Everbach December 22, 2010 | 10:48 a.m.

I have no desire to enter into some huge debate; however, I do object to the characterization of rape charges as "sexual exploits." Suzie Siegel makes some excellent points here.

Tracy Everbach, Mizzou Ph.D. '04
Assistant professor of journalism
University of North Texas

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 11:36 a.m.

Well, let me tell both of you lady's WHY Mr. Rosman seems to be a better Journalist in this case than what you give him credit for.

I expect a person with a Ph.D. and a seasoned Journalist to read a lot more carefully than what you two lady’s seem to be reading...

Mr. Rosman did NOT say that Mr. Assange did NOT rape these women. He did not say he did either. To do so would be to accuse him of a crime for which he has not been found guilty of. Even writing the term "alleged rapes" conjures unpleasant images that I am not sure are necessary right now. Using the term "rape" implies a crime was committed, we don't know that this happened yet. But the term "sexual exploits" does not imply that any crime was committed. It is FAR more accurate than the term "rape" at this point in time. I for one am glad that Mr. Rosman was so careful as to not be unnecessarily inflammatory in his article. THAT is responsible journalism in my personal opinion. I am happy that Mr. Rosman is not contributing to the concept of "guilty until proven innocent" in his article.

I suppose some people would just be happy with coming as close as they can to libeling a person with such inflammatory terms as "rape". Fortunately Mr. Rosman is not one of those people....

Ricky Gurley

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 26, 2010 | 4:08 p.m.

As a word of information - I list my articles on a number of professional sites, including a number of professional journalism groups in LinkedIn.com. This article has generated another 60+ comments through the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the Society of Professional Journalist, both of which I am a member. As with you, their position seems to be evenly split whether Wikileaks is journalism or not.

I do agree with Suzie - I know many bloggers who can be called and are true journalists. The question here concerns not the content but the explanation of that content. Like the Bible, the information found on Wikileaks can be interpreted many ways. Without context, it means nothing.

What we do lack today is the ability to sit down and read anything that may be considered "in depth" concerning the "truths" reported. We all see the same facts - and we all see those facts differently.

Dave

(Report Comment)

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