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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/23/2011 - 10/30/2011
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Let's have a jubilee - forgive the debtors, the banks have already been forgiven

william greider...
The rebellious citizens occupying Wall Street shock some people and inspire others with their denunciations of bankers, but everyone seems to know what they are talking about: the barbaric and suffocating behavior of the nation’s largest banks (yes, the same ones the government rescued with public money). Right now, these trillion-dollar institutions are methodically harvesting the last possible pound of flesh from millions of homeowners before kicking these failing debtors out of their homes (the story known as the “foreclosure crisis”). This is a tragedy for the people who are dispossessed. For the country, it is a generational calamity.

[...]

There is a solution, and it will appeal to the rebellious spirits occupying Wall Street because it combines a sense of social justice with old-fashioned common sense. It is forgiveness—forgive the debtors. Write down the principal they owe on their mortgage to match the current market value of their home, so they will no longer be underwater. Refinance the loan with a reduced interest rate, so the monthly payment is at a level that the struggling homeowner can handle. This keeps families in their homes, with a renewed stake in the future. It gives homeowners incentive to keep up their payments, because once again they have some equity and the opportunity to accumulate much more.

[...]

Forgiving the debtors is the right thing to do, because the bankers have already been forgiven. The largest banks were in effect relieved of any guilt—for their crimes of systemic fraud or for causing the financial breakdown—when the government bailed them out, no questions asked. The Obama administration followed up with a very forgiving regulatory policy that basically looked the other way and ignored the fictional claims on bank balance sheets. Instead of forcing honest accounting and rigorous reform, the administration adopted a strategy of soft-hearted regulation that banking insiders call “extend and pretend”: extend the failed loans and pretend that the loans will be paid off, even when you know many of them won’t. The phrase originated during the third world debt crisis in the 1980s, when the Federal Reserve rescued the same big banks from insolvency, the result of their reckless lending in Latin America.

greider calls up the historical tradition of "jubilee," a concept david graeber raised in a post i put up not long ago...
The ancient Hebrew society worked out a solution for recurring debt crises—you can find it in the Bible. Every seven years (in some interpretations, every fifty) the cycle of debt accumulation was erased by a declaration of general forgiveness. This was called the year of jubilee, and Christianity embraced the same moral principles (“forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”). Property was returned to the original owners, and children and slaves were freed. Everyone was redeemed. The economy was freed to start over again.

a description of jubilee in the judeo-christian context (from wikipedia)...
The concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest. In Christianity, the tradition dates to 1300, when Pope Boniface VIII convoked a holy year, following which ordinary jubilees have generally been celebrated every 25 or 50 years; with extraordinary jubilees in addition depending on need. Christian Jubilees, particularly in the Catholic tradition, generally involve pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome.

i like it... i like it a lot...

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Oakland strike, 2 Nov 11

in solidarity...

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Nouriel Roubini: any financial engineering in Europe is just not sustainable, the economic data coming from Europe are just horrible

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Amy Goodman & Chris Hedges talk about OWS on Charlie Rose



watch the full charlie rose segment - 24:33 - here...

one of the key points they make highlights the participative and leaderless elements of the occupy movement...

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Just say "NO" to ACTA

from anonymous...



here's the french site that is leading the charge against the ratification of acta in the european parliament...
ACTA is one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small "club" of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

ACTA would impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications. It is thus a major threat to freedom of expression online and creates legal uncertainty for Internet companies. In the name of trademarks and patents, it would also hamper access to generic medicines in poor countries.

The European Parliament now has an ultimate opportunity to reject ACTA.

what we do NOT need is our internet service providers tracking everything we do and shutting down our ability to think and communicate freely...

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Two international views of OWS, one from Germany and the other from IPS

first, ips... pay particular attention to the quote in the last paragraph...

Occupy Times Square by Christian Papesch from IPS Inter Press Service on Vimeo.


More than a month old, OWS feels like a town of its own, one governed intentionally by institutions and actions based on empathetic, egalitarian principles. As a protest, the occupation tactic is successful because of its constant presence and as a base for organising actions.

But at least as important to participants is the opportunity the occupied space provides to organise a microcosm of the society they want to live in. As the movement continues to grow, it is clear that this new society resonates with many people disaffected with the failures of society at large.

"We're dismantling capitalism and building something better right here," said Sheik.

here's a view from germany's spiegel [emphases added]...
Has America Become an Oligarchy?

Inequality in America is greater than it has been in almost a century. Those fortunate enough to belong to the 1 percent, made up of the super-rich, stand on one side of the divide; the remaining 99 percent on the other. Even for a country that has always accepted opposite extremes as part of its identity, the chasm has simply grown too vast.

Those who succeed in the US are congratulated rather than berated. Resenting other people's wealth is viewed as supporting class struggle, which is something very frowned upon.

Still, statistics indicate that the growing disparity is genuinely overwhelming. In fact, the 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the "lower" 150 million Americans put together.

Nearly two-thirds of net private assets are concentrated in the hands of 5 percent of Americans. In comparison, the upper 5 percent of Germany hold less than half of net assets. In 2009 alone, at the same time as the US was being convulsed by mass layoffs, the number of millionaires in the country skyrocketed.

Indeed, if you look at the reports it compiles on every country in the world, even the CIA has concluded that wealth disparity is greater in the US than in Tunisia or Egypt.

[...]

At least since the beginning of the millennium, it has no longer been a simple matter of two societal extremes drifting further apart. Instead, the development is also accelerating. In the years of economic growth between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of the income gains went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. Likewise, although the productivity of the US economy has increased considerably since the beginning of the millennium, most Americans haven't benefited from it, with average annual incomes falling by more than 10 percent, to $49,909 (€35,184).

[...]

In 1980, American CEOs earned 42 times more than the average employee. Today, that figure has skyrocketed to more than 300 times. Last year, 25 of the country's highest-paid CEOs earned more than their companies paid in taxes.

By way of comparison, top executives at the 30 blue-chip companies making up Germany's DAX stock market index rarely earn over 100 times the salaries of their low-level employees, and that figure is often around 30 or 40 times.

nothing new here but still interesting to see how what's going on here is perceived from outside the country...

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Occupy Reno

I've signed on to keep FDL members informed about Occupy Reno (see here).

On Wednesday, the Occupy Reno members appeared before the Reno City Council (see front page article here). A 90-day permit was approved for the old municipal pool site on Moana Lane. The $35 per day ($1100 per month) fee was waived and the permit filing fee of $103 was donated by a City Councilman.

Some smugness and condescension was in the air, however, as the Councilman expressed doubts that many "occupiers" would turn out given that Reno's winter temps are quickly taking hold (down to the mid- to upper-20s at night now and soon to be lower with the likelihood of occasional snow).


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Occupy Reno organizers came one step closer on Wednesday to occupying the property outside the dormant Moana Pool.

The Reno City Council told city staff to grant the protesters a three-month special event permit as long as the group meets all the public safety and health rules that govern special events, such as obtaining portable toilets, meeting with fire and police officials and getting the Washoe County District Board of Health's blessing.

The City Council also agreed to waive the $35-per-day fee usually associated with groups renting city park space -- about $1,100 a month. Because the property has been shuttered since 2007, City Council members said Reno wouldn't be losing or gaining anything with the waiver.

[...]

If the permit is approved, city staff said it will continue to work with organizers to ensure all of the regulations are being met while drawing up plans to extend the permit if needed. County health officials will keep an eye on the encampment, too.

So far the Occupy Reno movement hasn't conflicted with local authorities, instead drawing compliments from city staff and Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts on Wednesday for being willing to work out all the legal details before setting up camp on city property.

In fact, Councilman Dave Aiazzi said he would personally pay for the organizer's $103 permit filling fee.

[...]

Aiazzi said he was comfortable approving the special event permit in October, as opposed to May, with winter just around the corner. Other members agreed.

A General Assembly was held at the site last evening. The GA agenda is posted on the Occupy Reno website here.

A clean-up of the site is scheduled for today. I've been struggling with the flu or I would have attended the General Assembly. I hope to make the clean-up this morning and, if I do, will have some video to share.

Stay tuned.

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Glenn on Dylan Ratigan yesterday

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adrian Salbuchi talks to RT from Buenos Aires about Libya and high-class terrorism

from rt 4 days ago...
"When they decide to change the regime, they do so with the utmost violence, and it is a whole model. First they target a country by calling it a rogue state; then they support local terrorists and call them freedom fighters; then they bring death and destruction upon civilians and they call it UN sanctions. Then they spread lies and call it the International Community's opinion expressed by the Western media. Then they invade and control the country and call it liberation and finally they steal appetizing oil and call it foreign investment and reconstruction," Salbuchi explained.

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The United States has become a nation that does not apply the rule of law to its elite class

more from glenn's With Liberty and Justice for Some...

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As multiple episodes demonstrate, a belief that elite immunity is both necessary and justified became the prevailing ethos in the nation’s most influential circles. In countless instances over recent years, prominent political and media figures have insisted that serious crimes by the most powerful should be overlooked— either in the name of the common good, or in the name of a warped conception of fairness according to which those with the greatest power are the most entitled to deference and understanding.

This is what makes the contemporary form of American lawlessness new and unprecedented. It is now perfectly common, and perfectly acceptable, to openly advocate elite immunity. And this advocacy has had its intended effect: the United States has become a nation that does not apply the rule of law to its elite class, which is another way of saying that the United States does not apply the rule of law.

i've been yammering on this blog for years about the lack of accountability and the disdain for the rule of law by the u.s. power structure and how our super-rich elites have gamed the system to serve their own interests under the cover of ayn randian social darwinism that has effectively destroyed any semblance of a social contract... now, albeit long overdue, the occupy movement, in company with a general global awakening, is helping us all see things for what they are - an incremental coup d'etat by those very elites who have all along been singularly focused on vacuuming up every last scrap of money and power for themselves... maybe, just maybe, we're on the cusp of bringing down their grand plan... certainly, glenn's book is a piece of that...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

People want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes

matt taibbi has a long and articulate breakdown at his rolling stone blog on the issues that are driving the continuing growth of the occupy wall street protests...

in this video clip, the moron he's sitting across from claims that the protestors are JEALOUS of the rich... HA...!




more...
And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

We cheer for people who hit their own home runs in this country– not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned.

i've heard others say that taibbi is the heir to hunter thompson... not sure i'd agree but he's getting close...

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Elites are immunized for egregious crimes while ordinary Americans are subjected to merciless punishment for trivial transgressions

as police forces across the country continue to attempt to choke off the occupy protestors, it's very timely to have glenn's new book at hand...

from an interview today with glenn in truthout...

What we see with the protests [Occupy Wall Street] demonstrates exactly how ... law has ... become ... a tool used by the politically and financially powerful to entrench their own power and control the society. The police force - the instrument of law enforcement - is being used to protect powerful criminals who have suffered no consequences for their crimes. It is simultaneously used to coerce and punish the powerless: those who are protesting and who have done nothing wrong, yet are subjected to an array of punishment ranging from arrest to pepper spray and other forms of abuse.

That's what the two-tiered justice system is: elites are immunized for egregious crimes while ordinary Americans are subjected to merciless punishment for trivial transgressions.

when are the cops going to snap to the fact that they're in the same boat with the rest of us...?

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For 50 years, we have no bank failures

more ammunition - as if we needed any - for supporting the occupy movement...

elizabeth warren leads off a summary of why we are where we are...




they could have done without the drums and loud background music... it speaks for itself without the bells and whistles...

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Our political culture has now explicitly renounced the concept of equality of law

glenn's new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, is now on the stands, and it promises to be every bit as powerful as his regular columns... here's hoping it has the impact it so richly deserves...

from glenn's post today in salon...

The past decade has witnessed the most severe crimes imaginable by political and financial elites: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, domestic spying perpetrated jointly by the government and the telecom industry without the warrants required by the criminal law, an aggressive war waged on another country that killed hundreds of thousands of people, massive financial fraud that came close to collapsing the world economy and which destroyed the economic security of tens of millions, and systematic foreclosure fraud that, by design, bombarded courts with fraudulent documents in order to seize homes without legal entitlement. These are not bad policies or mere immoral acts. They are plainly criminal, and yet – due to the precepts of elite immunity which were first explicitly embraced during Ford’s pardon of Nixon — none of those crimes has produced legal punishments.

By very stark contrast, ordinary Americans are imprisoned more easily, for longer periods of time, and in greater numbers than any nation on earth. New legal classes of non-persons with no rights have been created over the last decade as well. Thus, over the same four decades that elite immunity has taken hold, the nation — namely,the same elite class that has aggressively vested itself with the right to act with impunity — has resorted to ever more merciless punishment schemes for ordinary Americans and others who are marginalized who, for multiple reasons, have very few defenses when the state targets them for punishment. While being rich and powerful has always been an advantage in the judicial system (and in all other aspects of American life), our political culture has now explicitly renounced the concept of equality of law, and it is thus now unabashedly clear that who you are is far more important than what you do.

the dynamic glenn describes is a cornerstone of what is behind the global awakening... our super-rich elites have doggedly and deliberately rigged the system in their favor and they have done so in multiple ways but none so pernicious and malign as the consequences to ordinary people by their manipulation of accountability and the rule of law...

glenn explicitly points this out...

This development isn’t just central to most of what I write. It is, I believe, driving the growing (and accurate) perception that our political institutions are wholly illegitimate. It is, as I wrote this morning at Tom Dispatch, this sense that outcome inequalities are now wholly illegitimate – as a result of this fundamental perversion of the rule of law – that is fueling the citizen anger inspirationally on display at the Occupy protests around the nation.

more from glenn's tomdispatch post...

It is now clearly understood that, rather than apply the law equally to all, Wall Street tycoons have engaged in egregious criminality -- acts which destroyed the economic security of millions of people around the world -- without experiencing the slightest legal repercussions. Giant financial institutions were caught red-handed engaging in massive, systematic fraud to foreclose on people’s homes and the reaction of the political class, led by the Obama administration, was to shield them from meaningful consequences. Rather than submit on an equal basis to the rules, through an oligarchical, democracy-subverting control of the political process, they now control the process of writing those rules and how they are applied.

Today, it is glaringly obvious to a wide range of Americans that the wealth of the top 1% is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship, but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems. Thanks to this control, they can write laws that have no purpose than to abolish the few limits that still constrain them, as happened during the Wall Street deregulation orgy of the 1990s. They can retroactively immunize themselves for crimes they deliberately committed for profit, as happened when the 2008 Congress shielded the nation’s telecom giants for their role in Bush’s domestic warrantless eavesdropping program.


i can't imagine a more opportune time for a book like this to appear and no one better than glenn to have written it...

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Noam Chomsky addresses Occupy Boston

39 minutes and worth every minute...



in the q&a portion at the end, chomsky makes the same point i have been making here which is that perhaps the most exciting thing to come from the occupy movement is the participative, transparent democracy taking place in the groups themselves which, if it can be expanded and sustained, could serve as a model for significant, long-term change...

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The more social and economic distress a culture goes through, the greater the delusional thinking

james howard kunstler in an rt interview today...

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If OWS pulls hundreds of thousands of people together, if it leaps across class lines, then the corporate state is probably finished

chris hedges...
The power elite are frantically searching for the ideological weapon that will discredit the movement. But the clarity of the protests, the painful personal stories of dislocation that are the heart of its message, and, most important, the self-discipline, despite police provocation, which has kept these protests nonviolent have advanced the movement and discredited the forces of control. The power elite, held together by the glue of force and fraud, are seeking ways to communicate in the only language they know they can master—unrestrained force. And as we enter the second month of demonstrations, the power elite fear that the core message and the calls for resistance, which resonate with a majority of Americans, will lead to a direct confrontation with the corporate state. If the movement starts to pull hundreds of thousands of people together, if it leaps across class lines, as I saw during the peaceful revolutions in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, then the corporate state is probably finished. Our corporate overlords know this. And they are doing everything in their power to make sure this does not come to pass.

despite my reluctance to use the word "hope" after being taken to the cleaners by mr. president hopey-changey, i am hoping the ows movement continues to strengthen even as the winter winds start to blow and the temperatures drop... of one thing i'm sure, even if it grinds to a halt, things will never be the same going forward...

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday photoblogging: the last of the fall flowers and a surprise

i was deadheading the orange coneflower in the front garden patch late this afternoon so the remaining blossoms would have a chance to bask in all their glory before the hard frost hits that's expected around tuesday or wednesday...

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i lifted up the stems and blossoms and, lo and behold, what did i find...!


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yes, a clutch of hatched quail eggs... there are a ton of quail in the area but it was amazing to find them here, particularly given that the nest is right next to the front porch and the parents had to sneak in and out without being seen... they did a right good job of not being discovered...

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By definition, global corporations are un-American

david intrator, a harvard grad and businessman, on occupy wall street...

from truthdig...




here's a comment from the youtube site...
Yes, I am "fundamentally conservative by nature". I want fairness, justice, and a chance for normal people to raise their families, work in a safe and sane environment, and live their lives in peace and reasonable comfort. (I know, sometimes that makes me a radical.) I am overjoyed to see this man spell out this message the way that he has. This is wonderful, and yes, more people need to see it. I am going to share it extensively.

what mr. intrator spells out should scare the ever-loving shit out of our super-rich elites because it exposes the very hypocrisies and lies that have been painstakingly built to lead us to the current worldwide rape and pillage by the corporatocracy...

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How lovely it is that Sarah Palin is now a has-been

tbogg at firedoglake...

(hopefully to be followed soon by batshit crazy michelle bachmann...)

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Peaceful, lawful protest -- if it is effective -- IS innately disruptive of "business as usual." That is WHY it is effective.

naomi wolf reminds us of what the first amendment really means and why it is such a strong tool in our push back against the super-rich elites who are doing their damnedest to vacuum up every last scrap of the world's money and power...

from the huffington post via information clearing house...

I want to address the issue of "disruption," as Bloomberg is sending this issue out as a talking point brought up on Keith Olbermann's Countdown last night: the neighbors around Zuccotti Square, says Bloomberg, are feeling "disrupted" by the noise and visitors to the OWS protest, so he is going to crack down to "strike a balance" to address their complaints. Other OWS organizers have let me know that the Parks Department and various municipalities are trying to find a way to eject other protesters from public space on a similar basis of argument.

Please, citizens of America -- please, OWS -- do not buy into this rhetorical framework: an absolute "right to be free of disruption" from First Amendment activity does not exist in a free republic. But the right to engage in peaceable disruption does exist.

Citizens who live or work near protest sites or marches have every right to be free of violence from protesters and they should never be subjected to destruction of property. This is why I am always saying to OWS and to anyone who wants to assemble: be PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL. Be respectful to police, do not yell at them; sing, don't chant; be civil to pedestrians and shop owners; don't escalate tensions; try to sit when there is tension rather than confront physically; be dignified and be nonviolent.

But the First Amendment means that it actually is not up to the mayor or the police of any municipality, or to the Parks Department, or to any local municipality to prohibit public assembly if the assembly is peaceful but disruptive in many ways.

Peaceful, lawful protest -- if it is effective -- IS innately disruptive of "business as usual." That is WHY it is effective.

[...]

Most of us need to remember, or learn for the first time (since this information is usually concealed from us) that the First Amendment, and the Constitution in general, supersedes all the laws of municipalities in violation of the constitution, as stated in the 1925 Gitlow v. New York ruling. So the First Amendment supersedes the restrictive permit laws now being invoked against protesters. The First Amendment was designed to allow for disruption of business as usual. It is not a quiet and subdued amendment or right.

[...]

Bloomberg is flat wrong, and he doubtless knows it but hopes you won't notice: New Yorkers have no right to be free of any disruption from the peaceful but disruptive free-speech actions of their fellow citizens, and how New Yorkers lawfully and peacefully assert their First Amendment rights is actually not up to him. There is a higher authority than Michael Bloomberg, or than the NYPD, or even than the guy in the white shirt who signaled to his colleagues to handcuff me earlier this week when I stood peacefully on a sidewalk, obeying what I had confirmed to be the law: and that higher authority is called the Constitution of the United States of America.

our super-rich elites and their bought-and-paid-for governmental puppets (one and the same in bloomberg's case) will stop at nothing to maintain their twisted status quo...

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Was Bradley Manning the one to finally end the Iraq War (among other things)?

some solid cause for speculation...

glenn
...

[T]he high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama administration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.

In other words, whoever leaked that cable cast light on a heinous American war crime and, by doing so, likely played some significant role in thwarting an agreement between the Obama and Maliki governments to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and thus helped end this stage of the Iraq war (h/t Trevor Timm). Moreover, whoever leaked these cables — as even virulent WikiLeaks critic Bill Keller repeatedly acknowledged — likely played some significant in helping spark the Arab Spring protests by documenting just how deeply corrupt those U.S.-supported kleptocrats were. And in general, whoever leaked those cables has done more to publicize the corrupt, illegal and deceitful acts of the world’s most powerful factions — and to educate the world about how they behave — than all “watchdog” media outlets combined (indeed, the amount of news reports on a wide array of topics featuring WikiLeaks cables as the primary source is staggering). In sum, whoever leaked those cables is responsible for one of the most consequential, beneficial and noble acts of this generation.

[...]

And yet (or more accurately: therefore) the person accused of accomplishing all of this, Bradley Manning, has been imprisoned for more than a year without trial, and, if convicted, is almost certain to remain in prison for many more years (with the possibility, albeit unlikely, of death, and as the Obama administration continues to block an unmonitored visit by the U.N. official investigating what had been the inhumane conditions of his detention).

maybe bradley manning should be awarded the nobel peace prize...

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