Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wikileaks Julian Assange: Hero, Egomaniac or a Little of Both?

Daniel Ellsberg, the prime player in the release of the Pentagon Papers  in 1971, who was a true hero, not only because he exposed the truth of the Vietnam war, but because he did so with the knowledge he could face the rest of his life in prison is a fan of Wikileaks.

John Nichols of Capital Times interviewed Daniel Ellsburg last month.  He said that "Ellsburg is a fan of WikiLeaks, in particular, and whistle-blowers, in general. He argues that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.”

“I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public.” -- Daniel Ellsberg as he surrendered to authorities in 1971
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, like Ellsburg, exposed 92,000 documents that may call into question America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Assange also believes he and/or Wikileaks may be in danger, as Wikileak's servers are located in different countries, and there is no headquarters. As for Assange, he never stays in one place, depending on the goodwill of people around the world to lend him a sofa to sleep.



Is Wikileaks, as it claims,  "a multi-jurisdictional organization to protect internal dissidents, whistleblowers, journalists and bloggers who face legal or other threats related to publishing" whose  primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East... assistance to people of all nations who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations?

Or as others claim, is Wikileaks  part of a U.S. cyber-warfare and computer espionage operations?  Or a CIA front?  A stalking horse for George Soros? Next to secrecy, authoritativeness is the most dangerous to an open society, and Wikileaks "sells" both.

In January 2007, John Young, who runs cryptome.org, a site that publishes a wealth of sensitive and classified information, left Wikileaks, claiming the operation was a CIA front. Young also published some 150 email messages sent by Wikileaks activists on cryptome. They include a disparaging comment about this editor by Wikileaks Dr. Julian Assange. Assange lists as one of his professions "hacker." His German co-founder of Wikileaks uses a pseudonym, "Daniel Schmitt."
"Those who get the truth to the American people show better judgment in putting it out than the people who keep it secret from the American people.” - Daniel Ellburg

2 comments:

Daniel Ellsberg’s WikiLeaks Wishlist 13:02  

This is interesting. Daniel Ellsberg told the Washington Post the four documents he most wishes someone would release to WikiLeaks:

1. The official U.S. “order of battle” estimates of the Taliban in Afghanistan, detailing its size, organization and geographic breakdown — in short, the total of our opponents in this war. If possible, a comparison of the estimate in December 2009 (when President Obama decided on a troop increase and new strategy) and the estimate in June or July 2010 (after six or seven months of the new strategy). We would probably see that our increased presence and activities have strengthened the Taliban, as has happened over the past three years.

2. Memos from the administration’s decision-making process between July and December 2009 on the new strategy for Afghanistan, presenting internal critiques of the McChrystal-Petraeus strategy and troop requests — similar to the November 2009 cables from Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry that were leaked in January. In particular, memos by Vice President Biden, national security adviser Jim Jones and others; responses to the critiques; and responses to the responses. This paperwork would probably show that, like Eikenberry, other high-level internal critics of escalation made a stronger and more realistic case than its advocates, warranting congressional reexamination of the president’s policy.

3. The draft revision, known as a “memo to holders,” of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran from November 2007. This has been held up for the past several months, apparently because it is consistent with the judgment of that NIE that Iran has not made a decision to produce nuclear weapons. In particular, the contribution to that memo by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), since the INR has had the best track record on such matters. Plus, estimates by the INR and others of the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran later this summer. Such disclosures could arrest momentum toward a foreseeably disastrous U.S.-supported attack, as the same finding did in 2007.

4. The 28 or more pages on the foreknowledge or involvement of foreign governments (particularly Saudi Arabia) that were redacted from the congressional investigation of 9/11, over the protest of then-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.).

On each of these matters, congressional investigation is called for. The chance of this would be greatly strengthened by leaks from insiders. Subsequent hearings could elicit testimony from the insiders who provided the information (whose identities could be made known to congressional investigators) and others who, while not willing to take on the personal risks of leaking, would be ready to testify honestly under oath if requested or subpoenaed by Congress. Leaks are essential to this process.

Anonymous,  15:16  

excellent points and the details are more specific than somewhere else, thanks.

- Thomas

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