Why is Jeanne Whalen Stonewalling Me on Her WikiLeaks Story?

by Peter Ludlow on 23/09/10 at 7:40 pm

Urizenus Sklar unretires (again) and explains!!!

Picture this. It was Sept. 17 and I was kicking back with a glass of Ransom Gin on ice
while celebrating the publication of my article on WikiLeaks in The Nation, when the mojo
wire crackled to life. I had incoming email via an anonymous remailer routed through
Belgium. “Hi, I’m Julian Assange” it began. I poured more gin and began to read.

Julian liked the article, it seems, but objected to two points, one of which concerns us
now (the other is a topic for another missive).

the "five human rights groups including Amnesty" is misleading and has fooled
many. One man a US national at the Asian office in the UK national office
of Amnesty, rounded up a few contacts at four other organizations, and then
sent us an email repeating the Pentagon line — already well aired –, which was
then also concurrently leaked to an known "opposing" reporter at the Wall St
Journal. Amnesty was forced to state it was not an official statement, just an email

After digesting the memo, the fact checker at The Nation and I looked into the matter. In
the first place, while talk of the letter from the human rights organizations was all over
the media and Internet, all roads led back to a story by Jeanne Whalen in the Wall Street
. Furthermore, Amnesty International did deny being a signatory. More curious,
however, was that the signatory for the Open Society Institute (a Soros operation) had
just received her law degree from Harvard in 2007 and was listed as a program officer on
the Open Society Foundation website. Was she really speaking for OSI (OSF), as the
Wall Street Journal had claimed? I wrote to the reporter with these questions. Following
is her response in full.


Hello. I heard from your colleague Kate yesterday, and can’t say more than I
told her, sorry — that we don’t share details of our reporting with other news

Best, Jeanne

Jeanne Whalen
The Wall Street Journal
10 Fleet Place
Limeburner Lane
London EC4M 7QN, U.K.
office: +44 207 842 9217
mobile: +44 7747 117 486

I replied at some length in my friendly Midwestern way:


To reiterate. I do not work for The Nation. I teach philosophy at Northwestern
University. While I wrote an article that recently appeared in The Nation, that is
the only time I have written for The Nation and I am not now writing an article
for The Nation, or anyone else. I do, however, plan on teaching about these
events in the future and I would like to have the facts right. If Kate is the same
Kate that fact checked my article then she is a lovely person but she is not my
colleague. If she is investigating the matter I assume it is because The Nation
wants to prevent further errors in reporting.

I am not asking for details of your reporting. I am asking you to tell me what is
actually the case. It is my understanding that Amnesty International did *not*
sign the joint letter. Is that now also your understanding? It is my understanding
that the person associated with OSI that signed the letter, Erica Gaston, was
a minor player that was not authorized to speak for OSI. Is that also your
understanding? It is also my understanding that there were only four signatories
to the letter in question. Can you confirm that?

Finally, I am unclear on what "details of our reporting" means, but I don’t see
why that should prohibit you from sharing the letter in question. Maybe I’m just
working on the academic model of inquiry here, but what good would be served
by hoarding that document? Would somebody be put in danger by its release?

She has yet to respond.

Yesterday, finding myself at a dead end I turned to the only person you really can turn to
in a situation like this – that most baller of baller journalists, the infamous founder of the
Alphaville Herald – Urizenus Sklar. I caught up with him in google chat.

Ludlow: Uri babez are you there? I need your help!
Urizenus: Yeah I’m here. Luddie you should be here too. The Herald Yacht is just now
cruising through the Bosphorus. We are picking up Burcu Bakioglu in a few hours and
are then going to play Set with Moot and some of his 4chan friends.

Ludlow: That’s great Uri, but I have a problem here.
Urizenus: Do tell.

I filled Uri in on the stonewalling from the WSJ, and Uri paused to think for a bit.

Urizenus: Hmmm, you know Luddie, I hate to say it but there are two possibilities here.
Either Jeane was played, or she is part of the game.
Ludlow: Played? Wait… what game?

Urizenus: You see Ludz, the government is smart enough to already know exactly what
you said in your article – that killing Julian would be pointless. WikiLeaks is a robust
and dynamic network with thousands of “nodes”. It’s like fighting the hydra – you cut of
one of its heads and two more grow in its place. The only option is to change the subject.
So, instead of having people talk about the war and evidence of war crimes in the leaked
documents you get them to talk about something else – like how Julian put innocent
civilians at risk.
Ludlow: Ok…

Urizenus: But how to do that… It is not persuasive to get a government official to do it
so you Astroturf something using well-known and respected human rights organizations.
Ludlow: How do you do that?

Urizenus: Well, obviously you aren’t going to get the organizations to officially sign off
on something like that, but human rights organizations are full of thousands of people,
and many of them are conservative and others are, frankly, plants.
Ludlow: Plants?

Urizenus: Ludmeister, you have been in the Midwest for too long. Absolutely. Human
rights organizations are full of intelligence agents and people that would like to get
into positions of power in, for example the U.S. State Department. Do you think they
wouldn’t do a favor for Hillary or Barak?
Ludlow: Um…

Urizenus: Let’s back up a bit and start with the Wall Street Journal. Who owns it?
Ludlow: Rupert Murdoch

Urizenus: Yes, my old nemesis Rupie. We had some great sailboat races in the
day …*sigh*… but I digress. Do you know who the signatories of the letter were?
Ludlow: Well yes, I know two: Sarah Holewinski of the Campaign for Innocent Victims
in Conflict (CIVIC) and Erica Gaston of the Open Society Foundation.

Urizenus: And you already know that Gaston got her degree in 2007 and is not likely
authorized to speak on behalf of Soros’ foundation.
Ludlow: Yes…

Urizenus: But did you know that she had co-authored a paper with Holewinski and was a
protégée of Holewinski?  She also worked with CIVIC for a while.
Ludlow: Um, no…

Urizenus: Luddie you need to know these things. Reporting 101. Connect the dots!
Ludlow: Right, dots.

Urizenus: So I assume you didn’t know that Holewinski was a fellow of the Truman
National Security Project

Ludlow: What’s that?

Urizenus: It is an organization that pushes the Democrats’ view on intelligence and
military matters.
Ludlow: Is that bad?

Urizenus: It is what it is. But if you want a taste of what they are about you should read
the Christian Science Monitor op/ed that Holewinski wrote with Jim Morin, who is “a
2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in military
history, focusing on counter-insurgency and low-intensity conflict”, is also a member
of the Truman National Security Project, and was an Infantry Platoon Leader and then
Company Commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is the quote from their op/ed that
got my attention.

Protecting the population isn’t political correctness; it’s a vital military objective
and a distinct advantage over an enemy that uses civilians as shields. The drop in
civilian casualties is a mark of success.

Ludlow: It’s all so confusing. These people look like human rights advocates on paper,
but then it seems that on closer inspection their political agendas are more complex.
And then what was the role of the WSJ reporter Jeanne Whalen? Was she in on the
astroturfing or did someone use her? I still don’t know. It’s such a mess we may never
get to the bottom of it.

Urizenus: Lud, what is the first thing I taught you when you came to work for the

Ludlow: In the hall of mirrors that is the interwebs, we may never know the truth.

Urizenus: And what is the first question I asked you?

Ludlow: How big is your game?

Urizenus: Luddie, the game just got bigger.

28 Responses to “Why is Jeanne Whalen Stonewalling Me on Her WikiLeaks Story?”

  1. Observer

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    Always be sure of whom you piss upon for it might be a live electrical wire.

  2. Jim'snotes

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    Sounds like a good excuse for not doing your own originai reporting — i.e. verifying the authenticity of the memo.

  3. Suzie Skybeam

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    I thought Peter’s article in The Nation was pretty good.

    A couple of thoughts, though:


    Technology projects organized over the Internet often depend on “charismatic authority”, as the sociologists would put it. There’s a single person who holds the group together because the members respect and trust them. This is very different from a corporate model where a boss is in charge because that’s where he’s appointed on the org chart. Examples of charismatic leaders include Richard Stallman with GNU, or Linux Torvalds with Linux. It appears that that the personal attributes necessary to succesfully lead a group of geeks are somewhat different from what would be “charismatic” in other contexts. For Wikileaks, it looks like Julian Assange is the charismatic leader.

    These people are quite rare, and hard to replace.


    My main misgiving about “hacktivism” projects is that they are so focussed on the technology. The idea is usually that if you can build the technology, the politics will just take care of itself. This is a very Marxist idea, even if the people espousing it don’t think of themselves as Marxists. (“The base determines the superstructure” etc).

    A possible problem with it is that building a successful political movement takes more that just a cool piece of technology. (And also: cool technology can be used for political purposes it’s designers did not intend).

  4. Deobserver

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    And as anyone who has watched Mythbusters knows, if you piss on a live electrical wire, all you get is a wet electrical wire. The spooks are no longer safe nor powerful- they are the next subject of a mass pissing upon by Wikileaks.

    Welcome to teh internets, n00b.

  5. Infomage

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    If you’re going to risk pissing on a live electrical wire, make damn sure you are wearing rubber soles!

  6. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    Looks like Susie Skybeam is an alt of Prokofy, she used the word “Marxist” twice in the same sentence, and capitalized, which obviously means its an Important Word The Writer Obsesses About Frequently.

    Uri has some good points for you there, bud. Don’t forget, though, that every game has two or more sides to it and, when it comes to international relations, it is all about power, none of the big players are innocent or altruistic (and frequently those who appear the most altruistic are the most corrupt power mongers), even if the policies they pursue have altruistic aims.

    As an example, China controls today 97-100% of the rare earth oxides which are absolutely necessary in the construction of semiconductor integrated circuits. If we went to war with China over, say, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, we would quickly be economically and technologically strangled by this commodity chokepoint.

    Those islands in the Sea of Japan that the Chinese are disputing (the Chinese “fishing vessel” was a spy ship, much as the soviets used “fishing trawlers” off the coast of the US to collect electronic intelligence and burst transmissions from spies in the beltway, in silicon valley, and the northeast university lab circuit) are rich in these rare earth oxides and the Japanese are looking to start mining them, hence Chinese aggression there.

    Guess where else in the world have recent geological surveys found rare earth oxide deposits? Afghanistan. As a result, the international leftist network that uses wikileaks as a sort of intelligence agency (which includes the People’s Revolutionary Army) has a vested interest in sabotaging American interests and activities in nationbuilding in Afghanistan.

    Even if Julian Assange believes his own bullshit about his own motives, one shouldn’t ascribe his own naive beliefs to all members of wikileaks.

  7. JustMe

    Sep 24th, 2010

    what exactly does this have to do with Second Life ?

  8. Rock Ramona

    Sep 24th, 2010

    you do realize that my hacker group Cult of The Dead Cow originally coined the term “hacktivism” in 1996……….

  9. Peter Ludlow

    Sep 24th, 2010

    Rock, I knew that but I didn’t know you were in cDc.

    IntLibber, I’m not taking sides. I’m just trying to figure out what is going on and I hate it when an alleged journalist is the one throwing up roadblocks.

  10. Edna

    Sep 24th, 2010

    What the?!

    I poured myself a glass of white wine and surfed to Herald for some light reading before bed. I read through this entire article thinking that at any time the next scroll down would reveal a photo of copulating furries or a link to a photo of a drunken, topless Prokofy Neva that I could enjoy while I frigged my booger. All I got was a brain ache.

  11. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 24th, 2010

    I understand that. You are running into the same journalistic roadblock I’ve run into with Pix when some douchebag posts some slanderous lies about me in the comments.
    I think it is safe to say that WSJ is institutionally predisposed to bias in favor of the US and the military-industrial system, even to the point of figuring that at least some of their people are intelligence operators for some agency or another (much as the Saigon bureau chief of TIME during the Vietnam war was an NVA intel colonel, and Reuters was once an unofficial arm of british intelligence in the pre-war period).
    However, this is the first time that I’ve heard of anybody at Amnesty International running interference for the Pentagon. Usually AI has a rather heavy double standard wrt US “human rights violations” versus those by less democratic states that have no free press (similar to my prior comment about environmental groups attacking western democracies when most pollution was East Bloc generated). I have not heard of this Truman organization, though, prior to your writing so I am gonna have to delve into this topic more deeply. I appreciate you enlightening me and everyone on this.
    Say hi to Burcu for me.

  12. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 24th, 2010

    “what exactly does this have to do with Second Life ?”

    This is no longer the Second Life Herald, cut your furry fapping for a bit and expand your horizons.

  13. Daisy

    Sep 24th, 2010

    nice ending to the article. I chuckled a bit.

    and @JustMe…
    I don’t know if you’re a troll or just an incredibly moronic human being, but all I have to say to you is “dude… this is real life?”

    anyway, writers and such, continue to probe around for the truth, because plebeians like me greatly appreciate it.

  14. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Sep 24th, 2010

    I am disappointed by the lack news coverage on Julian’s hair.

  15. anthonzi

    Sep 24th, 2010

    Do you always talk to yourself?

  16. REALLY

    Sep 24th, 2010

    I find it fascinating that this much time is spent debating whether or not a letter existed. And that an admitted computer hacker is taken at his word when people who do work to help others as their chosen profession are questioned.

    The bottom line is this… The releasing of those reports with personal and identifying information about individuals put those individuals at risk. PERIOD.

  17. Darien Caldwell

    Sep 24th, 2010

    “This is no longer the Second Life Herald, cut your furry fapping for a bit and expand your horizons.”

    If it’s no longer about Second Life, it’s no longer relevant to my interests. :)

  18. TharockObama

    Sep 24th, 2010


  19. hobo kelly

    Sep 24th, 2010

    I reckon whens yas plays wif fire ya gonna get burned…

  20. Observer

    Sep 24th, 2010

    @hobo – lol quite right. And it must suck to have to check your car with a FSM and check your lug nuts and brake lines before driving.

  21. Bill the Cat

    Sep 25th, 2010

    “I teach philosophy at Northwestern

    Not too busy there, eh? I have friends who teach at community colleges who don’t have time to piss, let alone play Mike Hammer on teh interwebz.


  22. Little Lost Linden

    Sep 25th, 2010

    “Guess where else in the world have recent geological surveys found rare earth oxide deposits?”

    My first guess would be… inside Hitler?

  23. Alt

    Sep 25th, 2010

    Being full to the mental brim with my reading of blogs, news outlets, and web sites, along with a daily dose of TV news, I have always turned to the Alphaville Herald for news of Second Life. I don’t need anymore real life, I gotta whole lot of it right now so the Herald just got removed from my Google Reader stream. Not that you care….

  24. MarkByrn

    Sep 26th, 2010

    …If it’s no longer about Second Life, it’s no longer relevant to my interests..

    Ditto or at least something about virtual worlds in general – pimping for Wikileaks or a fusty political rag is a stretch.

  25. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia

    Sep 28th, 2010

    Assage seems to have more problems lately. Now we have reports of some top Wikileaks insiders resigning and saying more unflattering things about him:


  26. [...] a paper bag? Wake up journalists! Leave Britney alone and start looking into this! Today I’m again looking into Jeanne Whalen’s Wall Street Journal article, and her claim that a “letter [...]

  27. [...] seems like just days ago that Luddie asked me to begin looking into the curious case of Jeanne Whalen’s WSJ story, which claimed that five [...]

  28. [...] WSJ refuses to provide a copy of the original letter. For more see these two articles: first, “Why is Jeanne Whalen Stonewalling Me on Her WikiLeaks Story?,” then the latest, “More Errors Found in WSJ WikiLeaks [...]

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