Wikileaks Documents Reveal Hazards of Blindly Relying on Secret Evidence

The flood of news stories in the wake of the latest Wikileaks document dump reveal how one Guantanamo detainee after another was imprisoned at Gitmo for years based on tips from informants that turned out to be false. As James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation said in today’s New York Times, that’s not a big surprise. Law enforcement relies on such dubious tips in building criminal cases all the time. “The nature of intelligence is that it is ambiguous sometimes. It is sometimes based on sources you wouldn’t take to Sunday school.”

In criminal cases, that’s not necessarily a problem, because criminal defendants ultimately get a chance to test the evidence in court. But that’s not the case for military detainees. Until the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Guantanamo prisoners had a right to challenge their detention in federal court, they were stuck in the prison with no independent assessment of their guilt or innocence.

In fact, that’s still the case for detainees imprisoned by the United States in Afghanistan today. The U.S. military holds some 1700 detainees at a prison on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan – nearly ten times as many as remain at Guantanamo. But unlike at Guantanamo, prisoners in Afghanistan don’t have the right to legal representation or to challenge or even to see the secret evidence being used against them.

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Judge the Global Network Initiative by How It Judges Companies

Recent press stories about the Global Network Initiative (GNI) paint a distorted picture, judging the Initiative's effectiveness and impact based primarily on the number of companies that have joined the effort to date. That's the wrong yardstick. While the GNI seeks to secure a sector-wide commitment to uphold basic principles of privacy and free expression and to provide companies with framework for decision-making that will deliver on these commitments, the real measure of success (and, ultimately, the key to attracting more companies to join) will be whether corporate members—to date, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!—are making business decisions that uphold their commitments.

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Judge the Global Network Initiative by How It Judges Companies

Recent press stories about the Global Network Initiative (GNI) paint a distorted picture, judging the Initiative's effectiveness and impact based primarily on the number of companies that have joined the effort to date. That's the wrong yardstick. While the GNI seeks to secure a sector-wide commitment to uphold basic principles of privacy and free expression and to provide companies with framework for decision-making that will deliver on these commitments, the real measure of success (and, ultimately, the key to attracting more companies to join) will be whether corporate members—to date, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!—are making business decisions that uphold their commitments.

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A Welcome Shift in the Obama Administration’s Rhetoric on Human Rights and Democracy in the Middle East

On Monday, as tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to demand a change in their autocratic, unresponsive and increasingly corrupt government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a statement that has caused dismay and consternation among supporters of a more democratic Egypt.

Apparently taken aback by unexpected events in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, Secretary Clinton said: “the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” Given that these words were uttered at the time Egyptian state security forces were warming to their task of dispersing protesters with batons and tear gas, they were, at best, ill-judged.

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High-tech terrorism or low-tech fear mongering?

To paraphrase H.L Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating how low a politician will go to gain an advantage.

Exhibit A: Vice President Joseph Biden, who likens Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange to a "high-tech terrorist." 

What a nice marriage of images. Especially for those of us old enough to recall poor Clarence Thomas who, when charged with sexual harassment in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, so deftly turned defense into offense by calling the accusations a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks." 

Now that terrorism is the new communism, why shouldn't everyone the government wants to vilify be labeled a terrorist?

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