Galileo satellite boss suspended over WikiLeaks cable

Jan 18, 2011

The head of a German firm working on Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system has been suspended after a WikiLeaks cable cited him as describing it as a "stupid idea", the company said on Tuesday.

Satellite firm OHB Technology suspended Berry Smutny indefinitely and "with immediate effect", spokesman Steffen Leuthold said.

According to an October 2009 cable from the US embassy in Berlin obtained by and released by Norwegian daily Aftenposten, Smutny said: "I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests."

Smutny, whose firm won a 566-million-euro (759-million-dollar) contract to develop 14 satellites for the system, also said the project was "a waste of EU taxpayers' money championed by French interests," according to the cable.

The supervisory board of OHB "disapproves of these conversations and the quotes attributed to Mr. Smutny," said Leuthold.

Smutny has denied making the comments.

"We believe him, but the damage to our reputation was too big," Leuthold told AFP.

Galileo aims to challenge the dominance of the US-built (GPS) set up by the in the 1980s, which is widely used in a huge variety of navigation devices.

Plagued by delays and cost over-runs, Galileo has an official price tag of 3.4 billion euros but reports have said the final cost of the system could exceed 20 billion euros. It is scheduled to be operational in 2014.

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User comments : 40

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gwrede
3.6 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2011
If you can be persecuted via Wikileaks for something you have *said*, that is scary.

Who can defend themselves from such? I think Wikileaks has some responsibility here, too. Unless they sharpen up, they'll end up just as a weapon for anybody who's got an axe to grind. And that would thoroughly undermine any good they may aspire to achieve in the world.
Doug_Huffman
3 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2011
Wikileaks does not leak what is said but what is written and, worse, what is written in unsecured e-mail or HTTP.

We can defend ourselves from such by speaking and writing only with discretion and using safe virtual congress practices, like PGP in one's e-mail.

A weapon can be used only against the vulnerable, don't be vulnerable. Unfortunately the politically correct demand indiscriminate tolerance of bad and good as affirmative action.
lengould100
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 18, 2011
Assuming the guy actually wrote what is claimed and the sentiment is a surprise to his bosses, he deserves to be suspended or terminated. If that's how he thinks, and he hasn't expressed it clearly to his superiors, then he's dishonest to be working on the project.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 18, 2011
If you can be persecuted via Wikileaks for something you have *said*, that is scary.
Anyone in a government position can be subject to losing that position for what they say. That can be said of most jobs.
Who can defend themselves from such? I think Wikileaks has some responsibility here, too.
So if I started saying racist things, and you heard it and repeated it to the news, who's liable for my actions, you or the news paper?
frajo
3 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2011
I'm sure there is more to this story than is told us. The guy knew the rules of the game. He was CEO, not a simple employee.
Modernmystic
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2011
Funny as hell. Assange is like Christ to some people.

"This was said and that is so...for Assange tells me so..."

Get a FUCKING grip...

This guy's life is in shambles because of this Aussie prick with an agenda....seriously take hold of your senses and be willing to say when enough is enough...

Oh and on top of it the guy is right...it IS a STUPID idea...
panorama
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 18, 2011
Funny as hell. Assange is like Christ to some people.

Wait...Assange actually exists though...;)
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2011
Funny as hell. Assange is like Christ to some people.

Wait...Assange actually exists though...;)


WOW you got like 100 atheist brownie points for that one! And you didn't even address the point

You're so clever ;-)

Fucking tool...
Paljor
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2011
Yeah and starting Wikileaks was soooo good for him . yeah, just look at where he is now facing charges for rape. He's doing greeeaaattt.
panorama
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2011
WOW you got like 100 atheist brownie points for that one!

How do I spend those? I'm not an atheist so I don't get the catalog every month.

To comment on the article so I'm not left with the label of "Fucking tool..." (dildo?)

I don't even understand why what this guy said is an issue. Are there implications that his opinion resulted in sub-par work from his company? The article states the supervisory board disapproved of his comments, but is that really grounds for suspension?
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2011
WOW you got like 100 atheist brownie points for that one!

How do I spend those? I'm not an atheist so I don't get the catalog every month.


No they're not spent by you, they get spent for you by others here in the form of up-ranks in your comments. Whether you deserve it or not.

You just lost them all though by admitting you're not an atheist...bummer that.

I don't even understand why what this guy said is an issue. Are there implications that his opinion resulted in sub-par work from his company? The article states the supervisory board disapproved of his comments, but is that really grounds for suspension?


There were plenty of things I did on the job in the Army I thought were beyond stupid and were well into the realm of outright absurdity. Being in the Army I never voiced my humble opinion, however it never impaired my ability to do the job.

In the end, their company, their decision. My complaint is that it could all be based on bullshit.
panorama
not rated yet Jan 18, 2011
You just lost them all though by admitting you're not an atheist...bummer that.

I'm a subgenius, and I think my points with them just went over 9000.

There were plenty of things I did on the job in the Army I thought were beyond stupid and were well into the realm of outright absurdity. Being in the Army I never voiced my humble opinion, however it never impaired my ability to do the job.

In the end, their company, their decision. My complaint is that it could all be based on bullshit

True, it is their decision. I think suspending someone for a comment like that is excessive though. I've been on conference calls in my company where executives use much more abusive language with no attempts to hide it.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2011
True, it is their decision. I think suspending someone for a comment like that is excessive though. I've been on conference calls in my company where executives use much more abusive language with no attempts to hide it.

It's one thing to have employees talking to other employees, without the public getting wind of it. It's another thing where a CEO is exposed to the world bad-mouthing the company's own product. OHB had to save face in this situation, whereas they probably wouldn't have cared had it not been leaked to anyone with an internet connection.
gurloc
3.2 / 5 (6) Jan 18, 2011
I'm quickly losing respect for Wikileaks. Exposing coverups is one thing, most of the documents they are releasing now the public has no business seeing.

How do you expect governments or even companies to operate if people can't express their honest opinion on internal documents without fear it will be leaked to the press?

Wikileaks will end up having exactly the opposite effect it was created for. People will be scared to speak out against anything, even to their own coworkers, for fear their comments will end up on the internet and they'll be fired for telling the truth just like this guy was.
lengould100
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2011
most of the documents they are releasing now the public has no business seeing.
'splain that to the taxpayers who're paying him huge sums for doing the most effective job possible of developing the sattelite system. I've worked on such projects and productivity is directly affected by such attitudes, long before they become public.

Looks to me like some paople prefer to have idoitism supressed, not a pretty picture.
nuge
4 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2011
A few points:
1) Wikileaks is an organisation. There are lots of people involved. It is not JUST Assange
2) Wikileaks didn't steal this information, someone gave it to them. Don't be so worried about your emails being leaked if you are careful about who you send them to.
3) Why should people not be accountable for things that they themselves actually said or did? If you don't want to face repercussions, don't say or do it in the first place. Especially if the public good is at stake.
frajo
3 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
How do you expect governments or even companies to operate if people can't express their honest opinion on internal documents without fear it will be leaked to the press?
Don't confuse "people" and CEOs. Their salaries are quite different.
Wikileaks will end up having exactly the opposite effect it was created for.
All the world is talking about the pros and cons of wikileaks. That's 100% success.
People will be scared to speak out against anything, even to their own coworkers, for fear their comments will end up on the internet and they'll be fired for telling the truth just like this guy was.
People are enlightened to see that indeed there is - contrary to their former fears - a way for the common man to counteract the heinous deeds of the wealthy and mighty.
The wealthy and mighty, however, might be shocked a little bit that their freedom is limited, too, and not only that of their employees, workers, soldiers, and slaves.
gwrede
not rated yet Jan 19, 2011
If you can be persecuted via Wikileaks for something you have *said*, that is scary.
Anyone in a government position can be subject to losing that position for what they say. That can be said of most jobs.
Who can defend themselves from such? I think Wikileaks has some responsibility here, too.
So if I started saying racist things, and you heard it and repeated it to the news, who's liable for my actions, you or the news paper?
My point was that it seems now that anybody can "leak" stuff to wikileaks that states that "gwrede has said we need to kill (place-your-favorite-bad-guy-here)", and there is no way I'll ever be able to mend my reputation. From that day on everyone "knows" I'm worthless.

IIUC, some of the diplomatic stuff contained "what someone had said" in meetings.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 20, 2011
Wikileaks will end up having exactly the opposite effect it was created for. People will be scared to speak out against anything, even to their own coworkers, for fear their comments will end up on the internet and they'll be fired for telling the truth just like this guy was.
Excellent point. Kind of like your kids ratting you out in nazi germany... because they can. Because its their Duty to a Higher Cause... like:
People are enlightened to see that indeed there is - contrary to their former fears - a way for the common man to counteract the heinous deeds of the wealthy and mighty.
So... one wealthy and mighty CEO gets axed for speaking his mind in an off-moment. The world is a better place.

Could this/will this also happen to common people? Will many many more common people be harmed than mighty people, by security and personal disclosures in bulk? You bet.

Frajo would call this 'acceptable collateral damage'. War is hell.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 20, 2011
Don't confuse "people" and CEOs. Their salaries are quite different.
Notice the implication... one is intrinsically innocent, the other undeniably suspect. You are a paranoid misarchist.

Who decides who is whom? Assange? Does wikileaks have a triage dept? Are they sitting there right now, pondering an email with your name on it, deciding whether you should be condemned or saved?

I bet that CEO is sitting home with his family right now, deciding their future, making hard decisions. But who cares- hes just a stinking CEO right? Got what he deserved.

He got where he was because he was uncommonly good at it and he enjoyed doing it a great deal. Most people at that level arent there for the money. They spend most of their time earning it, not spending it, because they enjoy earning it a lot more.

Malcreants who fall for the lie that the successful are greedy and evil should stop projecting their own self-disappointment on others.
soulman
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 20, 2011
There were plenty of things I did on the job in the Army I thought were beyond stupid and were well into the realm of outright absurdity. Being in the Army I never voiced my humble opinion, however it never impaired my ability to do the job.

You were just following orders, eh? We know where that can lead...
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jan 22, 2011
There were plenty of things I did on the job in the Army I thought were beyond stupid and were well into the realm of outright absurdity. Being in the Army I never voiced my humble opinion, however it never impaired my ability to do the job.

You were just following orders, eh? We know where that can lead...


Spoken like a complete fucking moron who doesn't have a fucking clue what he's talking about.

Would have made a lot of sense to end up getting brought up on charges for refusing to wash vehicles we'd washed the day before and hadn't used.

So my refusal to follow those orders would have "lead" to a clean vehicle not getting washed...that what you were referring to dipshit?
soulman
2 / 5 (4) Jan 22, 2011
You must be really obtuse if you don"t know to what I was referring.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jan 22, 2011
You must be really obtuse if you don"t know to what I was referring.


No YOU are the obtuse one if you didn't know what I was referring to.

YOU were the idiot who inferred that my not questioning stupid orders was somehow equivalent to refusing to obey an unlawful order...

That's the ridiculous bullshit you were peddling wasn't it?
soulman
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 22, 2011
If you were in gitmo and a superior officer told you to use "enhanced inerrogation texhniques" on a prisoner, you know, to "soften" him up, would you? Would that have been an unlawful order or a stupid one?
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jan 22, 2011
If you were in gitmo and a superior officer told you to use "enhanced inerrogation texhniques" on a prisoner, you know, to "soften" him up, would you? Would that have been an unlawful order or a stupid one?


I rest my case....

Stupid cunt.
soulman
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 22, 2011
I see you ignored the question Mysty. Bit close to the bone?
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jan 22, 2011
I see you ignored the question Mysty. Bit close to the bone?


If I asked you how often you touched little boys would you answer the question?

If you didn't does that mean I "bit too close to the bone" and you're REALLY a pedophile? Or is it that some questions are so stupid, insulting, and fucking asinine that they don't deserve an answer?
soulman
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2011
Well, you still haven't answered it. I don't know why you find it so upsetting. It's a reasonable question which I'm sure would have come up frequently during the illegally prosecuted Iraq war.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2011
I don't see how this is any different than your employer(perfectly legally, of course) looking in on your(email, social media, blogging, whatever) correspondence, or conversation, online or off, and deciding to disemploy you because of negative comments about the workplace, or for expressing your personal political views, discussing your private activities, plans, et c...

The knife cuts both ways.

frajo
3 / 5 (4) Jan 23, 2011
Well, you still haven't answered it. I don't know why you find it so upsetting.
He doesn't find it upsetting. He's just too cowardly to give the true answer.
Never mind; his comments in other discussions are eloquent enough to know when he's having hell of fun.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2011
Well, you still haven't answered it. I don't know why you find it so upsetting. It's a reasonable question which I'm sure would have come up frequently during the illegally prosecuted Iraq war.


Because it was totally irrelevant to the point I was making, and basically you're a prick who asked an incredibly insulting question and I feel answering it would do nothing more than de-rail the point I was making to begin with and give you an opportunity to jump up on to a soap box from which you'd continue to shit all over the rest of the thread with you liberal sewage and boring manufactured self righteous bullshit.

Hope that helps clear it up.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2011
I don't see how this is any different than your employer(perfectly legally, of course) looking in on your(email, social media, blogging, whatever) correspondence, or conversation, online or off, and deciding to disemploy you because of negative comments about the workplace, or for expressing your personal political views, discussing your private activities, plans, et c...

The knife cuts both ways.



So you agree with that kind of activity, or are you saying two wrongs make a right?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2011
So you agree with that kind of activity, or are you saying two wrongs make a right?
I'd agree with that kind of activity. If I own a business, and the managers running it are speaking badly of the business in public, they're fired. Do you disagree with this action?
Bog_Mire
5 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2011
Dude working on the *Galileo* project gets boned for speaking his mind....déjà vu.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2011
So you agree with that kind of activity, or are you saying two wrongs make a right?
I'd agree with that kind of activity. If I own a business, and the managers running it are speaking badly of the business in public, they're fired. Do you disagree with this action?


I was just trying to clarify Caliban's position.

Personally I tend to agree that if you're badmouthing the people you work for they have the right to fire you, and what you're doing is wrong.

Of course it's all situational, like most things there are exceptions. What if the company you're working for is selling products they know are killing people intentionally?
soulman
1 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2011
Because it was totally irrelevant to the point I was making, and basically you're a prick who asked an incredibly insulting question

Your silence speaks volumes.
nuge
3 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2011
Your silence speaks volumes.


No, his ridiculous over-reaction with childish name-calling and naughty words speak volumes
Caliban
3 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2011
I don't see how this is any different than your employer(perfectly legally, of course) looking in on your(email, social media, blogging, whatever) [...]private activities, plans, et c...

The knife cuts both ways.



So you agree with that kind of activity, or are you saying two wrongs make a right?


No, I'm saying that you can't make a distinction between the two. If someone works at say, the local Gap store, and complains to a coworker that The Limited Brands(owns the Gap)buys their stock from asian sweatshops, where workers get killed in fires at the rathole factories they work in(for instance), and the guy gets fired(all totally legal), then how is Mr Galileo CEO any different?

You could even make the argument that his offense was even more egregious, given that he wasn't just pissing locally. This CEO may have jeopardized hundreds/thousands of jobs, billions of $, and the ongoing good reputation of his employer.

No need to cry for him.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2011
Your silence speaks volumes.


No, his ridiculous over-reaction with childish name-calling and naughty words speak volumes


Yes because naughty words make arguments invalid...

Which logical fallacy is that?