Monday, November 29, 2010

WHILE AMERICA WAS SLEEPING I fixed a 'news breakfast' for you -- ready each weekday morning at 6am Eastern to satisfy your media craving [feature permalink here]. These must-reads will help you kick start the day:

TODAY'S B'FAST SPECIAL -- Implications of Wikileaks' Cablegate
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange attends a news conference about the internet release of secret documents about the Iraq War, in London October 23, 2010. Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war on Friday, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but did not seem to investigate.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY MEDIA)

How 250,000 US Embassy Cables Were Leaked: "From a fake Lady Gaga CD to a thumb drive that is a pocket-sized bombshell – the biggest intelligence leak in history." (Guardian)

Why We're Publishing Them: "The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match." (NY Times)

To Publish Leaks Or Not to Publish? "News organizations are confronting that question as aggressive tactics like those of WikiLeaks become more common in an age of fast-moving information." (WSJ)

Wikileaks' First Victim -- Transparency: "The first and most lasting casualty of this massive avalanche of documents classified “confidential,” “secret” and “noforn” (not for foreign governments to see) is going to be precisely the “transparency” that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he advocates. . . . The problem the State Department faces now is not just the difficulty of having frank conversations with allies or secret negotiations with enemies who think—who know—it leaks like a sieve. It will also be harder to have frank exchanges within the United States government itself. To avoid this kind of massive leak in the future, documents will get higher classification and less distribution, and a lot of the most important stuff may not be committed to the keyboard at all." (Chris Dickey @ Newsweek)

It's Started -- Pentagon Tightens Info Controls: "The Pentagon on Sunday announced new approaches for how it would safeguard information in the wake of the leak of documents from WikiLeaks, amid allegations that the Obama administration went too far in improving information-sharing across the government." (Politico)

Leaks Could Deal Blow to Global Trust: "What will be damaging in the Wikileaks, then, will be revelations about views on the part of senior political figures about individuals or nations who may be able to retaliate, or when the cultivation of personal trust is essential in progressing whatever interests may be in play. This will apply particularly in relation to states which have an elevated sense of national honour and, more generally, to the Muslim world. Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan spring immediately to mind." (British diplomat Hilary Synott @ The Independent)

Wikileaks' Target -- American Power: "The first victims of the leaked cables released Sunday was anyone who shared secrets with American diplomats, especially Arab leaders who saw their private security deals - and their insistence that those deals be kept from their people - published online with undiplomatic bluntness. But the main effect of the many details of American diplomacy revealed in the thousands of documents obtained and released by WikiLeaks was to deepen the damage to their intended targets: U.S. foreign policy, prestige, and power." (Politico)

Better Sharing of Data = Danger: " The release of a huge tranche of U.S. diplomatic cables has laid bare the primary risk associated with the U.S. government's attempt to encourage better information-sharing: Someone is bound to leak. The U.S. intelligence community came under heavy criticism after Sept. 11, 2001, for having failed to share data that could have prevented the attacks that day. In response, officials from across the government sought to make it easier for various agencies to share sensitive information - effectively giving more analysts wider access to government secrets. But on Sunday, the Web site WikiLeaks, which had previously released sensitive U.S. documents about the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, once again proved that there's a downside to better information-sharing." (WaPo)

The Guardian Gave the Cables to the NY Times: "New York Times editors said Sunday that although the paper's reporters had been digging through WikiLeaks trove of 250,000 State Department cables for "several weeks," the online whistleblower wasn't the source of the documents. But if WikiLeaks—which allegedly obtained the cables from a 22-year-old army private—wasn't the Times source, than who was? Apparently, The Guardian—one of the five newspapers that had an advanced look at the cables—supplied a copy of the cables to The Times." (Michael Calderone)

The Fallout from WikiLeaks' Latest Exposure: "Julian Assange's may not have endangered lives directly by leaking thousands of pages of purloined diplomatic correspondence, but he's certainly made conducting American diplomacy more difficult." (Tunku Varadarajan @ Daily Beast)

U.S. Officials Overstating the Danger From the Leaks? "Unlike the release earlier this year of intelligence documents about the war in Afghanistan, when WikiLeaks posted on its website unredacted documents that included the names of Afghan informants, WikiLeaks agreed this time not to release more than 250,000 documents because they hadn't been vetted by the U.S. government." (McClatchy)

Reactions Around the World compiled by The Lede @ NY Times.


Congress Returns to Work With Long To-Do List: "U.S. lawmakers face a lengthy to-do list, topped by a dispute over expiring tax cuts, when they return to work on Monday in a session that offers an early gauge of the chances for bipartisanship when the new Congress convenes in January. The first test of the post-election relationship between President Barack Obama and newly powerful Republican congressional leaders will come at a White House meeting on Tuesday, which is likely to focus on the tax-cut debate." (Reuters)

Obama Faces Democratic Angst: "The week's big focus will be on the bipartisan summit to be held Tuesday at the White House -- a key indicator of how the president plans to govern under the new reality imposed by voters in the midterm elections. But it's President Obama's relationship with his own party in its waning weeks of total control of Washington that still will determine a range of policy outcomes. Moves to the right in the coming weeks will be viewed with skepticism on the left, as Democrats still must guard against a revolt inside their ranks in their final weeks in control of the House." (ABC)

American Exceptionalism Becomes Political Battle: "'American exceptionalism' is a phrase that, until recently, was rarely heard outside the confines of think tanks, opinion journals and university history departments. But with Republicans and tea party activists accusing President Obama and the Democrats of turning the country toward socialism, the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world's other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Lately, it seems to be on the lips of just about every Republican who is giving any thought to running for president in 2012." (WaPo)

T.S.A. Furor Gives Media a False Positive: " What made the T.S.A. story so sticky and irresistible, a nearly perfect Perfect Storm?" (David Carr @ NY Times)

Experts Predict More Terror Plots in U.S.: "Americans should expect more homegrown terrorist plots such as the foiled attempt by a Somalia-born university student to bomb downtown Portland, Ore., security analysts say." (USA Today)

Oregon Fire Raises Muslims' Fears of Attack Backlash: "Someone set fire to an Islamic center on Sunday, two days after a man who worshipped there was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other Muslims fear it could be the first volley of misplaced retribution." (WaPo)

Wind Knocked Out of Obama's Climate Agenda: "The fight over U.S. environmental policy will shift next year as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, leaving the Obama administration chasing smaller victories in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What's dead for now is the ambitious climate bill that President Obama had backed, which sought to commit the U.S. to reduce industrial pollution 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Companies that came in under those caps could trade, or sell, their pollution credits to others." (USA Today)


Boom in Debt Buying Fuels Another Boom—in Lawsuits: "Across the nation, there is a surge in lawsuits against people who aren't paying their bills, driven by the debt-buying industry that has boomed in the past three years as a sea of souring loans and credit-card obligations have become cheaper and cheaper to buy amid hard economic times. Handing debt over to collectors is an important step in cleaning up the financial system, but the explosion in lawsuits—many for small sums—creates problems for the legal system. "There exists a real danger that the courts will be perceived as mere extensions of collection agencies," says Thomas Donnelly, an associate judge in Cook County, Ill." (WSJ)

EU Approves $89B Bailout for Ireland: "European Union nations agreed to give euro67.5 billion ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans to Ireland on Sunday to help it weather the cost of its massive banking crisis, and sketched out new rules for future emergencies in an effort to restore faith in the euro currency. The rescue deal, approved by finance ministers at an emergency meeting in Brussels, means two of the eurozone's 16 nations have now come to depend on foreign help and underscores Europe's struggle to contain its spreading debt crisis. The fear is that with Greece and now Ireland shored up, speculative traders will target the bloc's other weak fiscal links, particularly Portugal." (AP)

France, Germany Say Euro Saved But Investors Skeptical: "Initial market reaction to the deal in Asia was cautiously negative. After a brief jump, the euro fell to a two-month low of $1.3183 before recovering to trade close to Friday's levels. The risk premium investors charge to hold Irish, Spanish and Portuguese bonds rather than safe-haven German bunds fell only slightly in early London trade." (Reuters)


Iran Nuclear Scientists Killed: "Iranian state media has reported that a nuclear scientist was killed and another injured after coming under attack in Tehran. . . . Fars news agency said the scientists were targeted in two different locations by men on motorcycles who approached their vehicles and attached bombs to their cars." (Sky News)

China Envoy Seeks Urgent Talks on Korea: "China said mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula in the wake of a deadly North Korean artillery attack on the South are "worrying" and called Sunday for emergency consultations in Beijing, as the U.S. and South Korea started large-scale naval drills in the Yellow Sea." (WSJ)

Protests and Fraud Charges Roil Haiti Elections: "Haiti's elections ended in confusion on Sunday as 12 of the 18 presidential candidates denounced 'massive fraud' and demanded the polls be annulled and street protests erupted over voting delays and problems. The repudiation of the elections by so many of the presidential candidates dealt a blow to the credibility of the U.N.-supported poll. The international community was hoping the vote could produce a stable, legitimate government in the poor earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country." (Reuters)

Not Going Smoother in Egypt: "Egyptians went to the polls on Sunday to vote in a parliamentary election that seemed to unroll according to a wearily familiar script: scattered violence, widespread accusations of fraud and intimidation, and a sense among many here that Egypt’s long-dominant governing party was bent on entrenching its hold on power in a period of looming political uncertainty." (NY Times)

Tech, Science

Internet Blackout Hits Comcast Customers in Boston, DC: "An internet service outage for some Comcast customers on the East Coast eased early Monday, the company said. . . . Shortly after midnight Monday, the problem appeared to be resolved." (CNN)

Media, Entertainment

Leslie Nielsen Dies: "The actor best known for starring in such comedies as Airplane! and the Naked Gun film franchise, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84." (Hollywood Reporter)