Friday, December 3, 2010

Who owns it...

So - recently I espoused that this is not a craft or cooking blog and it isn't. It is being rather political of late and with good reason.

The Constitution of the United States is taking one hell of a beating of late. This is the document, which is the foundation for our political system and our overall culture I would say. It is what defined us as a nation and it was, in its time, a radical document. It was, not to be punny, REVOLUTIONARY.

It is still relevant today. Freedom is freedom. Liberty is liberty. We must as a nation ALWAYS error on the side of preserving freedom and liberty for ALL. I am not saying we should ignore the law, I am saying when there is gray area, the lens we must use, is the lens that allows for the preservation of liberty and the least intrusion of government in the private lives of citizens.

Human rights, civil rights, states rights and then and only then the rights of the Federal Government.

I am tired of beating the TSA horse - whose policies are  a blanant violation of Americans 4th Amendment rights. (Just so we are clear - I am not changing my opinion, just moving onto another topic.)

I am moving onto the 1st Amendment, which aside from the 4th, is my favorite.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


When we as writers write things, which we have factual proof of or are expressing an opinion we hold dear, the government cannot censure it. They don't have to like it, but they cannot censure it. They cannot just come on over and delete my blog. In China, they can. Here in the US, they can't, even though they might want to.

(This includes you Department of Homeland Security, even though you might like to think otherwise, just sayin' Constitutions trumps the Patriot Act and if doesn't - shame on you court system.)

This brings us to WikiLeaks. (who I would link to, but am either being blocked from doing so by Big Brother and Big Business or they truly have not found a new host server.) Here is a reuters news article on the subject.

I am not exactly sure how I feel about the cache of US State Department Cables, which WikiLeaks is slowly feeding out into the Internet. On one hand, as a writer, I want my copyright respected. No one better be publishing my work, without my permission, I own it, unless I have waived my rights. You can quote me, if you link properly. (see what I did with the Amendment 1 quote.)

What WikiLeaks is doing is hardly quoting. It is publishing documents wholesale. Presumably redacted in certain cases.

Also, do the writers of the documents have copyright rights? Is their work product considered the property of their employer, the United States Government and as such, what must the Government do to safe guard that work product.

And let's clear this up, how did WikiLeaks get the information? Was it really that easy for one army private pencil pusher, to download all this stuff and just pass it along. Did he get paid?

If WikiLeaks paid him to "steal" the information, ie it was their idea and they asked him to do, then I am more upset than if they just bought it from him.

What I am ravingly pissed about is that he, this lowly army PFC could get his hands on it at all! Hello - is my government run by a bunch of circus clowns? (emphatic nodding of head YES!)

Furthermore, some of what is said in what little of this I have read is objectionable. It is not professional and it is the kind of thing I would NOT want my employees writing about co-workers, allies, vendors or partners. Everything we write or say in a professional (and frankly personal) context should pass what I call the "would I want to see this printed on the front page of the New York Times." (any doubts - yes this blog post passes this test and frankly if they want to reprint it, it will cost them. I am not waiving my fee.)

Then there is the very real issue of who needs to know. There was a time I would have said that some things need to remain secret. I don't feel that way now. I have about zero confidence in the elected officials in Washington and their appointees. They allowed slanderous material to be stolen and then leaked. What kind of security did they have in place. (Um, poor.)

Freedom is not a game. National Security is not a game. A police state is not what we want. We have to have a balance between Freedom and Liberty and frankly I think it is HIGH time the American public wake up and realize we are not getting what we are paying for in terms of representation and good stewardship of our national ideals.

Members of Congress and the President are public servants. They serve at our pleasure and we pay their salary.

Shifting gears -

There is some speculation that Amazon and other web hosts were pressured to kick WikiLeaks off their servers. I am inclined to believe phone calls were made. I am also inclined to believe that WikiLeaks violated Amazon's terms of service vis a vi the ownership of content posted and hosted via Amazon's web service. (This is what Amazon has said in a press release/comment)

The thing is, in this case, I think it should have gone to court. It would be incumbent on the US and other Nations to prove that WikiLeaks had no legal right to the content. Who owns the documents. Was there a reasonable expectation of privacy?

In my experience, Terms of Service  Agreements are the scapegoat. Is Amazon actively monitoring all of its clients and the material posted to the servers. Not a chance. Did someone with some political clout recommend they take action. You betcha.

I think everyone deserves a slap on wrists here. Amazon for appearing to cave (and as a book seller, that scares me. What if someone with some political power suggests not selling a book about this very case in a year. Will they cave? The press must be allowed to continue.)

The US Government, sloppy with your security of documents and archives much. For shame. For shame that it was that easy to get that amount of information, embarrassing information stolen. You have no one to blame but yourselves and I were the boss - a good number of you would be fired.

WikiLeaks - I am not sure of your motivates. I am not sure you are the good guy. I do think, that you have an agenda that I might not be 100% in favor of, but I do think you are exposing the truth, embarrassing though it might be.

I will leave you dear readers with this. I used to wonder how Hitler did it. How did he get a nation, if not half a continent to follow his insane plans? I could not for the life of me as a young passionate contrary woman get my head around the idea that all those people went along. Hello your neighbors are being marched to a gas chamber. Your co workers are disappearing. Didn't you smell something, anything?

I will tell you how it happens. Erosion of civil rights and then the justified seizure of your basic human rights. It really is that simple. It is systematic and it is brutal and it is happening right now in the US at airports. It happened with your investment accounts right after 9/11 - too bad most Americans didn't notice.

It may start at a train station near you soon.

It may already be happening with our ability to gather information on the world wide web. It may be happening at the largest retailer of books/media, Amazon. (Why can't I get WikiLeaks to come up?)

When the STATE decides what information you have a right to see, that is censorship.
When the STATE decides it is ok to sexually assault you in an airport, that is a police state.
When the STATE decides to exempt themselves from the rules (notice congress members are exempt from sexual assault at airports.) It is the slippery slope to Big Brother running rampant.
When the STATE decides to run it citizens to the ground in a public square with tanks, that was China, it could just as easily be the United States.

When WikiLeaks leaks largely unedited and highly embarrassing documents, which it easily obtained, I think it is unethical on one hand, but way preferable to being felt up in an airport and being told what to read by the State.

It is preferable to being forced to join the Hitler Youth and hiding in my cellar as Nazi soldiers ransack my family home and physically and perhaps sexually intimidate my mother, which is EXACTLY what my mother in law experienced as a girl not much older than my daughter, in Germany during WW II.

Let's be careful what we wish for, as we level judgment on those who publish the truth. WikiLeaks did not write these documents... they are merely exposing those who did.

The real question is - is the tone and tenor of those documents the tone and tenure we want our elected official and government employees to be using? Is this what are tax dollars should be spent on? Should we believe what the President says because he is the President? Or should we be more critically thinking about how we are running this nation. Do we want to follow (goose stepping along like lemmings) the "this is what WE decided is best for you" bandwagon?

Those are the questions, which we must answer.

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