Update from Antony Loewenstein’s Blog:

Here’s an updated taste of a great Blog from Australian Journalist Antony Loewenstein.  Please follow his Blog on http://antonyloewenstein.com

Now the Wikileaks genie is out of the bottle

Published on 6 January 2011

The US government may have to realise that good citizens and employees may want to speak out and expose the truth:

The White House has instructed every US government department and agency to create “insider threat” programmes that will ferret out disgruntled or untrustworthy employees who might be tempted to leak the sort of state secrets recently made public by the website WikiLeaks.

A 13-page memo detailing the new policy urges senior civil servants to beef up cyber security and hire teams of psychiatrists and sociologists who can “detect behavioural changes”. They will then monitor the moods and attitudes of staff who are allowed to access classified information.

The move is designed to prevent further embarrassing disclosures of the sort which have dominated the news in recent months. Unfortunately, just 48 hours after the memo was sent, a copy was leaked to staff at NBC news, who duly posted it on their website.

“Do you have an insider threat programme or the foundation for such a programme?” it asks department heads, adding that they should keep a close eye on the “relative happiness” of workers, because a staffer who displays “despondence and grumpiness” is likely to be untrustworthy.

In a passage which recalls a level of paranoia last seen during the Cold War, it asks whether agencies are using lie-detector tests or are trying to identify “unusually high occurrences of foreign travel, contacts, or foreign preference” by members of their staff.

The author of the leaked document, Jacob J Lew, is the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. He seems particularly anxious to prevent the media from getting its hands on embarrassing information.

“Are all employees required to report their contacts with the media?” the memo asks, suggesting that staff should even be monitored once they leave the Civil Service: “Do you capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in online media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks?”

Vanity Fair and strange editorial priorities

Published on 6 January 2011

Sigh.

The people have spoken:

Australian voters are sharply at odds with the Prime Minister over the release of classified US government cables, a new poll has found.

The survey suggests just one-quarter of voters agree with Julia Gillard that the diplomatic cables recently published by WikiLeaks should have remained secret.

The findings show 59 per cent support WikiLeaks in making the cables public and 25 per cent oppose it.

The survey of 1000 Australians by UMR Research was conducted between December 16 and 21, three weeks after the cables began appearing.

UMR’s managing director, John Utting said support for the release of the cables was strongest among men, the more affluent and younger voters, and the better educated.

“There is little difference between the two major parties, while Green voters overwhelmingly support the release,” he said.

Mr Utting said he most significant finding was ”the almost complete lack of support” for prosecution of Mr Assange.

“The public is overwhelmingly against this. There is just no support for it.”

The Middle East’s Only Democracy Inc:

Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.

Three cables cited by the Aftenposten newspaper, which has said it has all 250,000 U.S. cables leaked to WikiLeaks, showed that Israel kept the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on its internationally criticized blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The territory, home to 1.3 million Palestinians, is run by the Islamist Hamas group, which is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence or accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

“As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge,” one of the cables read.

Israel wanted the coastal territory’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis,” according to the November 3, 2008 cable.

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