The Obama administration maintains a gulag archipelago of secret CIA prisons around the world, and automatically as a matter of policy classifies as “enemy combatants” any adolescent or adult male civilians who are killed in its military operations on the logic that if they were killed, they must have been combatants.
Non-Americans who applaud the Obama administration on the very limited basis that it hasn’t invaded any other countries (yet) might consider these facts before forming their opinions. For a balanced view of the American foreign policy consensus, one need only listen to the October 22, 2012 third US presidential debate. Democrats are no doves.❞
Julian Assange has not given much detail on what the nature of the documents will be, except to say that they will “affect every country in the world.”
If these documents are standard Wikileaks fare, they will probably include embarrassing and/or scandalous matter about large powerful institutions—world governments in particular. Moreover, the diffusion of these documents will no doubt leave some grumbling about the risks attendant to their disclosure.
There are understandable arguments in favor of such a position. Critics of Wikileaks appear to favor government secrecy on certain topics because they believe it to be a necessary predicate to good governance (e.g. keeping information about matters of national security matters classified). Thomas Jefferson, during his time as President, noted that:
[T]he Executive ought to communicate such papers as the public good would permit, and ought to refuse those, the disclosure of which would injure the public …
The fundamental flaw of this apparently reasonable position, however, is that there is no way to determine when the government is keeping information out of public hands for legitimate purposes. This is undoubtedly why many of Jefferson’s contemporaries took hardline stances in the other direction. Here is John Adams:
[The People] have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys, and trustees. And the preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.I was struck dumb with astonishment at the sentiments … [t]hat the executive alone shall have the right of judging what shall be kept secret, and what shall be made public, and that the representatives of a free people, are incompetent to determine on the interests of those who delegated them … .
The legitimacy of Democratic governance depends on consent of the governed. It is impossible for people to consent to acts of which they had no knowledge. And if history is any guide on the matter, government secrecy is invoked at least as often to ensure that the public remains uninformed of acts of official wretchedness carried out in their name, as it is to secure the blessings of confidentiality to sensitive information.
Such a state of affairs is intolerable in a free society. As Thomas Paine noted in the Dissertations, “In republics, such as those established in America, the sovereign power, or the power over which there is no control, and which controls all others, remains where nature placed it—in the people[.]” Government secrecy, no matter how well intentioned, subverts that control by ensuring that people cast their votes ignorant to potentially embarrassing, disagreeable, or perhaps even shocking actions which the government carries out in their name. One cannot vote against something they have knowledge of. And being ignorant of the same, a person would have little reason to. And therein, as they say, lies the problem.
Yes, yes, a 1000x times yes.
A new, unlikely voice has been added to the ‘Free Pussy Riot’ refrain: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who said on Wednesday that any more time spent in jail for the three band members would be “unproductive.” The three Pussy Riot members sentenced to jail time have already served five months behind bars, before and after the trial. The Associated Press reports that they have an appeal scheduled on October 1, which — if Medvedev’s comments signal the Russian regime’s thinking — could mean that their release could come in a couple weeks.
Read more. [Image: AP]
Where was Afghanistan? Amy Davidson on what Bill Clinton didn’t say in his speech at the D.N.C.: http://nyr.kr/RFOWo6
For more of The New Yorker’s convention coverage, visit The Political Scene. You can also read Ryan Lizza on Julián Castro’s keynote address and the relationship between President Obama and Bill Clinton; John Cassidy on Michelle Obama’s convention speech and Obama’s and Paul Ryan’s false statements about the economy; Amy Davidson on the First Lady’s speech, the gay-rights platform, and whether Democrats are better off than they were four years ago; Hendrik Hertzberg on renewed Democratic enthusiasm; and Alex Koppelman on Obama and the American Dream.
Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
i seriously regret reading the comments posted on this article.
yeah, bill did some great things, but he did a lot of shitty things, too.
just because the republicans suck ass, doesn’t mean the democrats are awesome by default.
[Space exploration] is in financial trouble. Yet by many standards, such missions are inexpensive. Mariner Jupiter/Saturn costs about the same as the American aircraft shot down in Vietnam in the week in which I am writing these words (Christmas 1972). The Viking mission itself costs about a fortnight of the Vietnam war.
I find these comparisons particularly poignant: life versus death, hope versus fear. Space exploration and the highly mechanized destruction of people use similar technology and manufacturers, and similar human qualities of organization and daring. Can we not make the transition from automated aerospace killing to automated aerospace exploration of the solar system in which we live?❞
His thoughts on discovery versus destruction, from the same 1971 panel on Mars exploration that gave us Ray Bradbury’s romantic ode to Darwin and exploration.
How appropriate this is today. It puts our priorities squarely in view, like a mirror to the soul of mankind. Do we like what we see?
(via Brain Pickings)
That Bain Capital investment in Stericycle, a medical-waste company that helps to dispose of aborted fetuses?
When Huffington Post reported on it earlier this year, Bain officials insisted that Mitt Romney, the currently pro-life Republican presidential candidate, had already left Bain when it happened, in 1999. But a trove of financial filings uncovered by Mother Jones appears to show the very opposite:
The SEC filing lists assorted Bain-related entities that were part of the deal, including Bain Capital (BCI), Bain Capital Partners VI (BCP VI), Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors (a Bermuda-based Bain affiliate), and Brookside Capital Investors (a Bain offshoot). And it notes that Romney was the “sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of BCI, BCP VI Inc., Brookside Inc. and Sankaty Ltd.”
The document also states that Romney “may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to” 2,116,588 shares of common stock in Stericycle “in his capacity as sole shareholder” of the Bain entities that invested in the company …
Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds “voting and dispositive power” with respect to the stock owned by Bain.
For someone who wasn’t involved at all in the Stericycle investment, Romney’s name sure shows up on a lot of Stericycle-related documents! Because back in 1999, there would have been no reason for Romney to not invest in the fetus-disposal industry. After all, abortion is legal, aborted fetuses exist, and whatever Stericycle does with them — turns them into bicycles, we’re guessing? — is probably better than tossing them in a dump somewhere. Plus, Romney was a pro-choice, soon-to-be governor of Massachusetts, where the state motto is literally “Abortions: Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That!” He was probably focused more on the millions upon millions of dollars the investment would net him, and not how awkward it would make life for New Mitt. But Old Mitt had a way of being selfish like that.
Personally, the fact that he invested in a “fetus disposal company” is inconsequential to me.
The whole “republicans run on a pro-life platform” thing while their candidate once invested in a fetus disposal company greatly amuses me.