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Interview With the Man Behind WikiLeaks

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the balls-of-steel dept.

The Media 489

An anonymous reader writes "Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, explains why he feels it is right to encourage the leaking of secret information. He maintains that the more money an organisation spends on trying to conceal information, the more good it is likely to do if leaked. For Assange, leaked intelligence reveals the true state of governments, their human rights abuses, and their activities, it's what the 'history of journalism is.' On the media's role in making information available to the public, Assange maintains that 'the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information [classified documents] than the rest of the world press combined.'"

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489 comments

Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in March (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#33046000)

But for some reason the firehose put it down to purple and it was rejected [slashdot.org] . I understand he's a media whore with shady beginnings but what was everyone afraid of? That the interview would go poorly and he'd start releasing sensitive Slashdot information? :-)

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (-1, Troll)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33046272)

Haven't you learned? Many of the best stories around here get punted. Unless it involves licking Steve Jobs' butthole (with the exception of this morning's article, of course), a popular video game, or badmouthing Microsoft security, it gets ignored.

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046360)

BTW, his source for the recent leak is a 22yrs old US soldier.

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (0, Offtopic)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 4 years ago | (#33046688)

I wonder how he deals with the obvious truth that there are hundreds of governments that
1) violate human rights
2) do not hide this fact

China, India, Morocco, Algeria, Tunesia, Egypt, Chad, (the entirety of North Africa), Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, ... the list goes on and on and on ...

Most governments that really violate human rights do not claim they don't. They just claim human rights are unjust (all muslim nations), or that they know better what human rights are because they're ... (insert Chinese, North Korean, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Taiwan, ...)

The population of these countries easily exceeds 3 billion human beings.

How exactly will documenting abuses help against this ?

And I wonder how human rights can even be applied at all worldwide.

Human rights match make some serious demands on a country's law :
-> right to private property *psssst* no communist human rights, and at what point does socialism begin to violate human rights ?
-> right to roof *psst* no human rights in (very) capitalist countries
-> right to not be discriminated by religion
      a) this includes the right to marry : neither muslims nor hindus can respect human rights *and* their religion, even if they live in a country that does (and I think this goes for most religions)
      b) this does not include the right to marry : islam and human rights do not mix (since sharia demands separate rights per religion)
      c) this includes the right not to be criticized/insulted (as the UN seems to want) : let's go convict Christopher Hitchens (and all these pesky atheists) for crimes against humanity !
-> right to not be discriminated by sex : again obviously islam violates this, so does sikhism and the Japanese "religion"
-> right to representation in government : no communist human rights, no dictatorial human rights, or in a (real) kingdom, ...

And that's ignoring the tangled mess that is human rights in warzones, and how ridiculously difficult they are to respect (and ignoring that only the US even tries to respect them, most US adverseries just routinely violate human rights even in peacetime)

And apparently violating human rights, even in big ways, does not justify ANY reaction by anyone. Example : Iran gets to execute minor girls (12yo) for the crime of being raped as a matter of policy, and this does not justify an incursion (but there are easily thousands of cases like this)

Public vs private (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046774)

In general (see recent post about cop video) a "public servant" does not deserve much privacy. Per Robert A. Heinlein, "Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny." When "national security" is used as an excuse to keep something secret, it is important for the public to be sure that the "something secret" is not an illegal action, or an attempt to avoid responsibility for making a mistake. Sometimes I think that the best way to ensure a democracy survives is to put ALL public servants, from the President on down to local cops, under 24/7 video surveillance. But this can only happen in a society that doesn't have hangups about nudity or bathroom functions or sex (therefore the good old USA is doomed....)

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33046380)

I was wondering what happened to that.

I guess some people harbour angry feelings towards him for releasing that military video - something along the lines of loose lips might sink ships. I think more good than harm came from releasing the video, but I can see where it strikes a nerve with some people.

I mean if your kid happened to be in the military - and it would appear that the military is hiding something your kids may or may not be doing - it would make you feel uneasy, to say the least. Most parents would still side with their kids though.

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046488)

March was far before any of that was released ...

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (1)

Bryansix (761547) | about 4 years ago | (#33046822)

What I want to know is how much of the released documents painted the military in a good light versus in a negative light. In any given set of after action reports there is bound to be a certain amount of good stories and a certain amount of bad ones. Both do not get released because they contain sensitive data. However both exit. What was the ratio of positive to negative? Or was it all negative?

Re:Slashdot Had the Option to Interview Him in Mar (4, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | about 4 years ago | (#33046584)

he's a media whore with shady beginnings

Anyone would become a "media whore" in a situation where being one could make the difference between staying alive or getting shot in a dark alley with noone caring about it...

Team up with the Daily Show! (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33046002)

Wikileaks and the Daily Show are some of the very few examples of real journalism we can find today, I hope they team up and become a hilarious force of journalistic good.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (5, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#33046044)

Don't get me wrong, The Daily Show is great, but it's not really journalism - they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field, etc. It's more editorial or commentary on the news. All of the new clips they show on the program come from other news sources.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (5, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33046152)

Don't get me wrong, The Daily Show is great, but it's not really journalism - they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field, etc. It's more editorial or commentary on the news. All of the new clips they show on the program come from other news sources.

They're the only one bothering to do background research, they're the only ones exposing contradictions and bullshit, sure they only comment on news already told, but their analysis is head and shoulders above any of the "real" news shows. And those shows also mostly only retweet news.

I stand by my attack on news organizations: They all suck and a comedy show is better at their job than they are.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33046222)

that kind of "exposing contradictions and bullshit" comes under the headding of commedy.

bremer bird and fortune have been doing the same in the UK for decades.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC31Oudc5Bg&feature=fvw [youtube.com]

I like the show but it isn't really news.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 4 years ago | (#33046454)

Maybe if the other news shows did their job, it wouldn't be so embarrassing...

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (5, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33046708)

I like the show but it isn't really news.

And yet it's more "news" than the news shows. I'll say again: A show that, by everyone's admission isn't a news show, is a better news show than any news show. That, off course, is more of a commentary on news shows than on the Daily Show.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 4 years ago | (#33046788)


That link is fantastic. The best eight minutes I've spent today. Is it news? I don't know, but news is not merely facts, but facts and explanation. If the comedy shows are providing the explanation half of the sum, then maybe they're completing the delivery of news in a way.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046492)

+1 "here here"

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046512)

Watching 'news' outlets serve up olds to the public (most get their info from API or even directly from the white house or NPR like organizations that feed the public the governmint propaganda) has been so painful for 20 years or more that I turned to radio like Pacifica and even NPR for a while. Those outlets became so pathetic that I gave up and turned to the Christian Science monitor. That became garbage as well and turned to underground news and feeds. Those too like Drudge became garbage and so I turned to myself, to read and understand it without much if any input of op eds. TV today is garbage, maybe has been since it came into being. News is breaking, is where folks spend time actually finding out the questions to be asked, and the sources that will go public answering them honestly. If the world's governmints would just be honest, and get rid of crooks we'd be in a much better state of mind, life, and ability to pursue happiness. Right now, too much time is spent on BS filtering of 99.9% garbage to find the one shred of honesty and due diligence in publishing..

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 4 years ago | (#33046654)

If by "background research" you mean finding one off video clips that can out of context contradict and be hilarious then yes. If you mean background research like find the heart of a complicated issue cutting through the tag lines of both sides to see the actual pros and cons of both approaches rather then whatever extremes will make people laugh, then no.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33046768)

If by "background research" you mean finding one off video clips that can out of context contradict and be hilarious then yes. If you mean background research like find the heart of a complicated issue cutting through the tag lines of both sides to see the actual pros and cons of both approaches rather then whatever extremes will make people laugh, then no.

Then yes! They often do a level headed analysis of the issue to the best of their ability... before making the dick joke.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (2, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33046276)

Most of their material covers what other news sources have reported.

They do occasionally send "reporter|comedians" to the field.

The best examples of this are their coverage of conventions during national elections.

They do interview actual persons of interest.

Consider how far "real" journalism has fallen (most of it is also editorial and commentary).

The comedy news isn't that far behind.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (2, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#33046314)

Sure. The primary goal of the show is to make people laugh. But they do send their people into the field often. They have had their corespondents travel all over the world to speak with different people. I've seen interviews from India, Iraq, Sweden, and many other nations. There have been several on-site reports from multiple political conventions across the US (where they are viewed as card-carrying reporters). These are often accompanied by impromptu interviews with regular folks.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (5, Insightful)

Halo1 (136547) | about 4 years ago | (#33046322)

they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field

Actually, they do send out people in the field from time to time, and then I don't mean "put them in front of a blue or green screen". See e.g. Jason Jones' excellent Behind the Veil [thedailyshow.com] series that was recorded in Iran.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (1)

TwiztidK (1723954) | about 4 years ago | (#33046088)

Considering that I've seen videos from Wikileaks on the Colbert Report, it definitely could happen.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 4 years ago | (#33046116)

The Daily Show isn't an example of journalism, it is an example of editorialism. They are just upfront about it as opposed to the more mainstream "news" organisations like CNN or Fox News.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046160)

This is exactly the kind of stupidity that makes the government have to keep information from the unwashed masses.

Re:Team up with the Daily Show! (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33046174)

The Daily Show is more of a source of commentary on the news than a source of it. What is somewhat shocking, though, is that The Daily Show is where increasing numbers of young people are turning to learn what is happening in the world -- more conventional news sources must be doing a really bad job.

Shirley (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046010)

from the balls-of-steel dept.
Surely that should be 'balls of steal'.

Re:Shirley (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33046312)

It should.

And don't call me Shirley.

Wow... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046022)

HE should reveal the location of all US nukes and their launch codes... because those are kept secret and cost a lot of money.

Re:Wow... (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33046912)

Why do people constantly bring up nuclear launch codes in discussions about national security secrets? The system of nuclear launch codes was not designed to protect America from foreign threats; it was designed to protect foreign nations from rogue soldiers engaging in an authorized nuclear strike. The nuclear command and control system is mostly related to ensuring that our nuclear weapons can only be armed following an order from the President or a combination of cabinet members.

That being said, the entire nuclear command and control system was designed when concerns about soviet spies were rampant. It was, naturally, designed to withstand a certain level of information leakage without compromising security. The idea that a leak on the scale of what Wikileaks does would somehow compromise our nuclear weapons system is a bit far-fetched; by the time Wikileaks even got around to publishing launch codes and missile locations, the information would be completely out of date and worthless (launch codes are changed daily, and missiles are periodically shuffled between silos; also, we open a certain fraction of our silos, chosen by the Russians, for Russian airplanes to photograph, as part of an agreement of assurances that we are not exceeding a certain number of nuclear weapons).

Blood on his hands (5, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 years ago | (#33046040)

Julian Assange also admits someday he's probably going to have "blood on his hands." He has put himself in a tough situation. But I'm betting the increased daylight will do more good than bad.

Re:Blood on his hands (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 4 years ago | (#33046144)

Maybe I am over glamorizing the past, but in the days of WWI and WWII, I would say this guy is enemy #1. However, since the cold war, I agree that the secret nature of my government (US), has gone too far. I think this will bring out some skeletons, but in the long run, restore confidence in our leaders.

Re:Blood on his hands (0, Flamebait)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 4 years ago | (#33046224)

Maybe I am over glamorizing the past, but in the days of WWI and WWII, I would say this guy is enemy #1.
You're correct and Zombie FDR agrees with you, don't even bother with a messy trial skip straight to the execution.

Re:Blood on his hands (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 years ago | (#33046574)

There's some context to think about. The US entered WWII as a direct result of American soil being attacked. It was pretty clear that fighting back was a matter of national security. In that context it would be easy to make the case that a leaker of battlefield secrets was treasonous.

Since then we've only waged elective wars, generally for purposes that leave many of us scratching our heads in confusion. Who knows what the hell we invaded Iraq for. Our strategy there and in Afghanistan seems to be to drive around in Hummers until somebody shoots us, then chase 'em down and shoot 'em back. How that benefits our national security is a mystery to me. Maybe some of these leaked documents can clarify it.

Re:Blood on his hands (0, Flamebait)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33046886)

Who knows what the hell we invaded Iraq for.

Oil. [azlyrics.com]

Re:Blood on his hands (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#33046310)

What do you think about Jane Fonda in Vietnam? Was she a traitor to our troops for allowing herself to be propped up for a photo-op on an enemy AA gun, or did she actually save many of their lives by bringing the war to a close, if just a few days or hours sooner?

Unfortunately there's no definite way to answer such a question.

Re:Blood on his hands (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | about 4 years ago | (#33046624)

I have several uncles that served in Vietnam - including a couple that became peace agitators when they came home. All of them hate Jane Fonda for what she did, regardless of their feelings on the war.

We should have never let her back in the country. I'm sure she would have been a big star in communist Vietnam now.

Here we go again. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046074)

Information longs to be free. Blah blah blah. You're a hero, Mr. Assange...give yourself a pat on the back.

Re:Here we go again. (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 4 years ago | (#33046308)

Information longs to be free. Blah blah blah. You're a hero, Mr. Assange...give yourself a pat on the back.

Soon to be made an hero by a certain three letter agency...

I admire him but... (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33046076)

I admire whistleblowers. But there is sometimes a fine line between heroism and stupidity. And whistleblowers almost always pay a hefty price for what they do. Best case scenario they either lose their job outright or are shuffled off into a corner somewhere, never to be trusted or promoted again. Worst case scenario, they end up in jail or dead. The "thanks" are usually short-lived, the stain of being an employee/contractor/soldier who can't be trusted lasts forever.

I hope this guy and his whistleblowers continue to keep fighting and that Wikileaks is around for a long time. But, make no mistake about it, the powers-that-be will fight it. And the more Wikileaks releases, the farther those powers will be willing to go to silence the site.

Re:I admire him but... (2, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33046240)

Now that the site has all of this press, it will be a LOT harder for "the powers that be" to do anything about it. If they close the site, a new one opens within hours or days. If they manipulate the site contents then they get called out by a thousand other news agencies and websites. About the only thing a government can do is to attempt to strong arm them or reduce everyone's freedom of speech.

Re:I admire him but... (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33046374)

It was a very smart move of him to involve big names like the New York Times. That will give him a degree of protection. But that only goes so far. If the powers-that-be are determined enough to get you, they'll either find some way to discredit you (the Scientologists are the Jedi masters of that one), or if they're REALLY pissed you'll just be the victim of an unfortunate car or plane crash (the CIA and KGB were best known for that trick).

Re:I admire him but... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33046432)

The trouble with outright killing him (however discretely) is that he becomes a martyr. I relate all of this to the old days for Phil Zimmerman.

Re:I admire him but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046594)

On that note anyone know a simple way to grab a full copy of the wikileaks site and all it's contents?
I like archiving things... though in this case archiving inside a heavily encrypted and hidden volume might be best.

Re:I admire him but... (1)

NovaSupreme (996633) | about 4 years ago | (#33046622)

You listed all the reasons to love, respect, and support Wikileaks even more!

Quite clearly (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 4 years ago | (#33046086)

A government (foreign or domestic) posted this just to get dontpaniconline.com slashdotted. It's a cover-up.

Why the press does a bad job (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33046100)

The press does a bad job specifically because it is not just a group of volunteers; the press ultimately needs to make enough money to pay reporters, journalists, editors, etc. In countries where news is a business, getting on the government's bad side can mean losing access to news sources (the ability to speak with powerful people); in countries where news is sponsored by the government, getting on the government's bad side could mean getting fired or receiving less funding. There are a few exceptional cases, such as the New York Times leaking the illegal wiretapping program, but more often than not it seems that news organizations avoid creating controversies.

Re:Why the press does a bad job (4, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33046364)

I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing,

an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?) with the job of (but not monopoly on)letting everyone know what the hell the other 3 are up to with as much protection from the other brances as they have from each other and as much power to root around in the others buisness as any wing of government.

it used to be that the citizens were good enough at that job but nowdays with the way the weak ones are getting stamped on for trying and the rich and powerful don't give a damn I think it would be better.

Re:Why the press does a bad job (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33046500)

Many government agencies have inspectors general [wikipedia.org] who are *supposed* to fill that very role. But the problem is that they're rarely independent in any meaningful way, making it highly unlikely that they'll perform any other role than making it *look like* someone is there to do fair investigations. Even at the executive level (in the U.S.) the Attorney General [wikipedia.org] is theoretically supposed to handle such investigations. But who is going to conduct any investigation of the President or his party when he is the very man who appoints (and can fire) them?

Re:Why the press does a bad job (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 4 years ago | (#33046534)

I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing, an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?)

From The Fourth Estate [wikipedia.org] :

Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.

Re:Why the press does a bad job (1)

Browzer (17971) | about 4 years ago | (#33046650)

Very Medieval, but do you mean something like the "Fourth Estate" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_estate [wikipedia.org]
or the "Fifth Estate" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Estate [wikipedia.org] ?

the other Estates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Estate#Third_Estate [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why the press does a bad job (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046464)

because most of it is owned out-right be a very few large non-media corporations, such as weapons manufacturer General Electric (owns NBC).
http://www.nowfoundation.org/issues/communications/tv/mediacontrol.html [nowfoundation.org]

Idiot (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046130)

This is the kind of bullshit you hear from people who don't have a fucking clue what regular people are like. Sure, it's possible that a government may hide their activities from the public in an attempt to deceive or control them. Much more often, however, the government needs to keep information from the public because the public is full of panicky morons. And yes, sometimes a restriction on information is vital to national security. Traditional media doesn't "fail" to expose this information; they have enough sense to determine what benefits the public and what doesn't. Assange clearly lacks any fucking iota of that kind of sense.

Re:Idiot (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046300)

Yeah, because I really want a country based on democracy to hide all the essential facts from their citizens. Look without facts how is it possible to make an informed decision on election day? The mainstream media is terrible, and things like Wikileaks is the only possible way to get solid facts to base your decision on election day on.

Without solid facts like this we end up having the Afghan War debated on two sides, the leftist side of EVERY SOLDIER KILLS CHILDREN and the right-wing side of LETS NUKE ALL OF AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, KOREA, AND CANADA!!! Rather than a sane cost-to-benefit ratio.

Why is it that the mainstream media doesn't use -facts- to prove their points. Things like "For every day of war we spend XXXXX dollars, we kill XX civilians, XX terrorists, and destroy XXXX worth of infrastructure" would be a great way for people to know if they want to continue this war. Without that though we have the two extremes, extreme pacifism and extreme militarism.

Democracy (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046170)

Organizations like Wikileaks are essential to having a democratic country. Such a thing like the Afghan War Diary is very much needed to evaluate which leaders to elect. Remember these are our tax dollars being used/wasted to fight this war. We have a right to know the body count and the details about past missions. Without that how am I supposed to know who to vote for? If I don't have the facts, how can I make an educated decision? My only choice is through the mainstream media which doesn't have the facts.

I need -facts- to back up my election choices. I need to know stuff like the Afghan War Diary, otherwise how will I know if its worth continuing the Afghan war? It seems my only two options in the mainstream media is either DESTROY ALL TERRORISTS WITH NUKES!!!!! and EVERY SOLDIER WHO GOES TO AFGHANISTAN KILLS 324234 CHILDREN!!!! and none of them deal with the facts.

Re:Democracy (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33046302)

For me, Wikileaks represents a sliver of hope for citizen action; for-profit news sources and government operated news sources have become the tools of the very organizations (corporate and government) that wish to take advantage of the majority of people, but Wikileaks is run by average people who do not have a vested interest in taking advantage of the rest of the population. If there were more of this sort of citizen action, we would have a much stronger democracy, one that is not run by the powerful corporations and their lobbyists. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before more than a fraction of a percent of the population gets up and takes any sort of action on their own behalf.

Re:Democracy (1)

Shred303 (1865388) | about 4 years ago | (#33046524)

I find it suspicious that everything that was leaked was pre 2008. Pre-Obama.

Re:Democracy (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046588)

I did find that a bit odd, but I think that a lot of that is because he doesn't want to leak very recent information because it could put lives in danger. But it will be interesting if he continues to post new information if not it could just be another bush-bashing article ignoring everything Obama has done much like the mainstream media (minus Fox)

Re:Democracy (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33046694)

Do you honestly think that the Wikileaks guy is some kind of Obama fan? Going by the plain facts(and he seems like the sort to do so), Obama has basically continued doing exactly what we were doing before, more so, in some cases(ie. his state secrets position is even more extreme than Bush's, and he has approved what amounts to an undeclared war with the hinterlands of Pakistan).

He is much more polite and diplomatic, and doesn't go mouthing off about "crusades" and "axis of evil", which idiots mistake for him being a moderate; but when it comes to using force, spying, and arguing for the US's right to do those things, there is virtually no change.

More likely, they either only have access to reports up to that time(source got cut off, reassigned, KIA, etc.) or are only releasing the older stuff, as it is informative without being as compromising of present-day activity(the same reason they are holding back 15K CIA-related documents)...

Get A Clue Please (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046590)

Anybody who has been paying attention to the Afghanistan war should not have been surprised or shock over the wikileaks documents.

Really, what great new detail have you learned in those documents that you couldn't have read in a newspaper or article in the last 4 years? Civilians sometimes gets killed? Drones sometimes crash? Pakistan may be helping the Taliban? Big whoop. Anybody with a clue knew or suspected this long go.

So if you need wikileaks as your primary source of information and facts, then you really have a problem.

Small, independent, nothing to lose (5, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#33046184)

"Assange maintains that 'the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information [classified documents] than the rest of the world press combined.'"

In some specific regards he's right. He and his staff take on some personal risks of reprisals, but I think the reason he is doing what other sources of Journalism aren't, is that he *can*. Unfortunately, most of the world media is either State-controlled, or owned by for-profit corporations, which means in the first case that they aren't allowed to report such things, by the government which controls them, or in the second case, aren't as willing to take the risks, because it might hurt profits.

I think only a a relatively small, non-profit, or possibly, privately owned, organization can actually engage in such risky journalism, because they have basically nothing to lose (well, some of the staff could lose their personal property and/or go to jail).

Glory Hound (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046200)

The guy is just a glory hound with a self inflated sense of purpose.

I notice the biggest stories that got him the most publicity were those involving the US government.

Meanwhile, I haven't any big leaks from them on truly secretive and oppressive regimes like North Korea, China, Iran.

Why isn't wikileaks focusing on countries like those on their true state of governments, their human rights abuses, and their activities? Because it doesn't seem to get him the glory and buzz.

The guy is just a glory hound with a self inflated sense of purpose.

I notice the biggest stories that got him the most publicity were those involving the US government.

Meanwhile, I haven't any big leaks from them on truly secretive and oppressive regimes like North Korea, China, Iran.

Why isn't wikileaks focusing on countries like those on their true state of governments, their human rights abuses, and their activities? Because it doesn't seem to get him the glory and buzz.
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Re:Glory Hound (2, Informative)

easterberry (1826250) | about 4 years ago | (#33046864)

China and North Korea make no pretense to being fair and free democracies. We KNOW they commit human rights violations. That's not news. America however, claims to be a proper, geneva convention abiding, "good", democratic nation. When they do something wrong it's a bigger deal.

Re:Glory Hound (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33046892)

I suspect that, if he had them, he'd release them. For reasons that should be obvious, American news stories about wikileaks tend to focus on wikileaking of American documents; but if you head over to wikileaks directly, and trawl through the archvies, there is all kinds of stuff, pertaining to a wide variety of institutions and governments and issues. Shockingly, leaks of grindingly technical minutes of some obscure EU trade negotiation just don't have the media impact of videos of helicopters shooting stuff.

Further, I'm guessing that wikileaks has a much, much easier time in places where it has embedded sympathizers, and in places with languages that they have people who speak. There is no evidence that wikileaks has any spies of its own, just that they operate a convenient system for whistleblowers to make drops. How many whistleblowers with big caches of digital documents(and internet connections) do you fancy there are in North Korea?

some amount of secrecy is warranted (5, Insightful)

SethJohnson (112166) | about 4 years ago | (#33046214)

The drawback to wholesale leaks like this is that sometimes innocent people can be harmed. As an example, when Valerie Plame's identity was divulged, the CIA downplayed her official capacity as being that of a desk jockey. That's what they'll say whether she really is a desk jockey, or an elite 007 killing machine. Anyway, the problem with exposing Valerie Plame is that she had contacts in the field who were then exposed to have been meeting with a CIA agent. Kinda puts those people at risk within their own organizations.

Same with these documents. Even a casual remark in a report about a helpful shop owner can put that person on a Taliban hit list.

The perspective espoused by WikiLeaks is irresponsible and naive.

Seth

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#33046304)

And yet the Afghan leaks in particular, why not having a lot of out and out surprises, have better informed the public of this singular fact; that Pakistan, or powerful elements within it, are our enemies, and that we're fighting the wrong war. Afghanistan is unwinnable as long as that porous border allows Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence to cross unhindered.

Democracies require information, and the public is the absolute boss. These leaks reveal that the US specifically, but no doubt NATO in general, have botched the show. Of course they dont' want that revealed, because it's damaging to the interests of all the paper tigers that have so screwed it up.

What needs to happen is either to abandon Afghanistan or move the war into Pakistan directly.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (4, Informative)

sheddd (592499) | about 4 years ago | (#33046936)

move the war into Pakistan directly
 
I agree we're not doing any good in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is a real mess; US influenced puppet government, strong anti-US sentiment from a lot of the population, 650,000 active troops [wikipedia.org] , and they have nukes. Pakistan scares the shit out of me.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33046450)

The problem, though, is that people can no longer trust the government to give accurate information about our reasons for going to war, the state of affairs in the war, or what sort of conduct our soldiers are engaging in. If it were the case that when the government says, "this document is being kept secret to protect the lives of people who are helping us," we could actually trust that is the case and that the government is not just trying to hide some sort of mistake (like an apache helicopter crew killing someone who was trying to bring a wounded reporter to the hospital), then I would say that yeah, Wikileaks is not doing us a service. Unfortunately, when the government says something is being kept secret for national security purposes, it is not possible to know whether there really is a good reason to keep it secret, or if it is just part of another attempt to keep the public in the dark about what our supposed representatives are doing. Keep in mind that the US government classified a copyright treaty as a national security secret.

As one of the people who works with Wikileaks recently said, the people in Iraq and Afghanistan know what is happening in the war. They see the civilian deaths all the time. Why, then, does the US government want to keep the American public in the dark about civilian deaths in the wars that we are fighting?

Extreme secrecy on the part of the government demands the sort of extreme response that Wikileaks represents. Until we can trust the government, Wikileaks is doing vital and necessary work to preserve the right of the people to know what their government is up to, which is absolutely necessary for a democracy to work.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (3, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | about 4 years ago | (#33046878)

The problem, though, is that people can no longer trust the government

That's really your whole post.

Although, was there a time when people _did_ trust the government? Not during the Whiskey Rebellion. Not when the IRS was created. Not during the Nixon adminsitration.

Is there some kind of average or poll whereby "the common man" says "I generally trust the government", and has that sentiment drifted overtime? Or have elements of society _always_ been distrustrful of government?

I'd assert that I am certianly much less trusting of government than I was when I was a kid growing up in a republican household. I've subsequently had too many examples of encounters with the "justice" system leaving me with a distinct feeling of injustice. And too many situations where "my" government not only isn't representing me, but isn't even listening to me, and isn't even following its _own_ laws and rules (but which it expects me to shut up about and follow blindly).

The culture of fear about the government is so bad now that people aren't doing basic useful things like _filling out the census_. But why should they? This information has been used for evil in the past -- when people trusted the government. The federal government has said that anyone with a Ron Paul bumper sticker is a possible terrorist. The government certainly doesn't trust Americans. It doesn't feel the need to protect their rights, and it doesn't feel the need to follow the laws binding its treatment of Americans on American soil.

It seems that at nearly ever level of governance, from the top on down to the local policeman, there is a sense of "us" and "them", where the politicians and other agents of the state hold the populace in contempt, and the populace holds the ruling class in equal (or greater) contempt.

The ruling class asserts its power ("legitimate" initiation of violence) nearly every day. The populace does so very, very rarely. There are more of "us", but we act infrequently.

I think it will come to ahead soon. It doesn't matter how many elected officials we replace, the CIA will still have the same people in it. Your local police department will still have the same cops taking bribes and curb-checking you for trying to video them. There aren't enough good people running for office to fill in the vacuum even if we could vote out all the bad ones.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33046502)

The perspective esposed by people who want wikileaks shut down is also irresponsible and naive.

Hungry

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (2)

NovaSupreme (996633) | about 4 years ago | (#33046678)

True! However, there are risks associated with not releasing such documents too. For example, continued support for a war that is not going accomplishing anything, not only wastes money but kills thousands of people.

There are always risks with anything you do, but, I always side with more information and openness than less.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (1)

roccomaglio (520780) | about 4 years ago | (#33046862)

So the leaking of Valerie Plame's name (She worked out of Langley), would cause issues for the people who were known to have met with her. How much trouble was caused for the people who met with the CIA station chief in Algeria Andrew Warren, when his name was leaked by the Clinton state department? Admittedly he was accused of raping several woman, but where was the investigation of the leak of his name.

Re:some amount of secrecy is warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046902)

Plame was exposed not in the course of whistle-blowing but because her husband exposed the 'African Yellowcake' thing (Saddam supposedly acquiring nuclear capability, used by Bush to muster support for his war) as bogus.
The point of the exposure was to harm the Wilson/Plames. It was revenge by people in power - quite a bit different than what wikileaks is doing.

What I Didn't Find in Africa
By Joseph C. Wilson
July 6, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/what-i-didn-t-find-in-africa.html [nytimes.com]

The rest of the world media has bills to pay (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 4 years ago | (#33046242)

Someone recently linked an image comparing the CNN homepage with Al Jazeera Home page. The difference is extreme. One is a gossip rag, the other a, highly biased, news source.

But CNN probably makes more money, or used to anyway.

Remember the story about Ballmer being a bad CEO despite raising revenue and profits? That is because in the United Corporations of America, making a profit isn't enough you always go to be growing your profits and growing the amount by which your profits grow. Raise your profits for 10 years in a row by 25% and you are doing badly, it should be year 1: 25%, year 2: 40%, year 3: 60% etc etc. Impossible? Yes it is, but is what the stock market wants, what employees payed in stock options want.

So everything in the UCA is constantly squeezed, cost cutting here, cost cutting there. Spend a little less, earn a little more until you are left with... well it the iPhone 4. Made with slave labour, broken by design. And no this isn't just about Apple. Dell is even better at it. Sold broken PC's, broke anti-trust laws everything to increase the bottom line year after year.

And then you apply it to news. And news isn't cheap or efficient or effective. And you won't notice when it is gone until it is far to late. Until you get to a state that "politicians" refuse to speak to journalists and have them barred from events and only ask questions submitted in advance and then only those they like. Sarah Palin anyone? If you think she is bad, the exact same thing has been going on for a long time. Ask the wrong questions and forget about getting invited to the special events. So no reporter at a white house press briefing asks hard questions, at least not without prior approval.

Think about it, if journalists asked real questions, guys like Bush and Blair would have been as embarrased as when they meet a private citizen who manages to corner them. Brits might remember Blair being totally unable to counter woman questioning him on public health care. Brown the same. What NO report mentioned is that not a SINGLE ONE OF THE PRESS CORE asked those questions. If you are reporter and you haven't had a poltician cry, then suck. And this is the same around the world.

In Holland we have tv news for children. If you compare that show from ten years ago with the adult news, you will find that the adult news now is softer then the children news from way back.

But who is to blame? Big business intrests? Perhaps, but we the public let them. We let the likes of Murdoch own every newssource. We don't refuse to watch fluf pieces on the news and now the fluff has become the news.

And don't blame it on the right either. The left is just as guilty of it. The right has fluff pieces that ignore global warming and corporate corruption. The left has fluff pieces that ignore problems with immigration and culture clashes.

Fluff is not just Idols, it is news that doesn't upset you.

If you read a news source and you agree with it, then you are reading fluff. And we like it. See how quickly people resort to flamebait and troll to silence troubling thoughts on slashdot.

There was another piece, that people seek communities in games that give them the least amount of stress. Well, that is also how we seek out news. Be REALLY honest with yourself, how often do you purposefully seek out news from a source critical to your own world views?

No secrets you say (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046256)

Well if he doesn't want people to have secrets then he should be the first to start and say where he is since he has been hiding for the last couple of months. Being a two time war vet I would like to thank him with my shot gun :)

Assange's character (2, Insightful)

Robotron23 (832528) | about 4 years ago | (#33046296)

The fact this guy is the man of the hour over the Afghan leaks that caused such a hubbub two days ago does not mean he isn't flawed despite unduly positive portrayals on Slashdot and elsewhere.

A big criticism of Julian Assange is his constant courting of the media to the point of being a prolific PR man - Slashdot did a post on him some months ago with the grandoise assertion that he was an 'Interational Man of Mystery'.

Truth is that his past, which is hardly whiter than white given all the suspected hacking he has done, makes him out to be much less of a virtuous crusader and more an occasionally maverick human being like quite a few people who once embarked on black hat attempts are. I agree with Wikileaks and enjoy the prospect that authority will be questioned a lot more as a result...but Assange isn't angel or particularly 'moral' .

The only thing which seperates him from older, more seasoned leaking website owners is that he is talented at courting PR and media, is decent at public speaking, and functions well as the recognisable 'face' of Wikileaks - nobody else in the leaking business has talent in the important matter of image, promotion and driving attention to his site. Were Assange lacking in that, Wikileaks would be nowhere near as famous/infamous as it is at the moment.

Re:Assange's character (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33046950)

It would also be far less effective since it would draw less leaks.

I don't see how his failure to wear a halo makes his current endevour any less laudable though.

A couple more interviews (5, Informative)

BertieBaggio (944287) | about 4 years ago | (#33046336)

I don't know how much of the content at the links below is repeated in TFA, but I thought these were good:

Apologies to those outside the UK or otherwise without access as the second interview is on iPlayer.

(Incidentally, the Guardian also had access to the Afghanistan data, as was mentioned in a previous /. article. Since I have the tabs open, I'll repeat some key links from that here:)

Good Stuff (5, Interesting)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | about 4 years ago | (#33046340)

As a USMC Iraq combat vet, who has for the past few months been studying the Afghan situation extensively, I can say that this is a good thing. Anybody who is actually involved knows that the Paki, and more specifically ISI, have been a problem for us since the early 80's, and not much has changed. The Paki's have and will continue to say "What? Not us!" but they are full of shit. The fact that the politicians are relatively good at hiding this fact undermines the general public's knowledge about the situation, and therefore it is a major part of controlling public opinion about our war. The facts are that we send money to ISI (often bypassing paki authorities completely) who then have (sometimes rogue) officers directly funding everything from afghan warlords, to Al Queda, to Paki Talibs, and on down the line. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has absolutely no interest in really getting rid of their extremists, on either border, because Islamabad has so much fear of India, the militants are a tool they plan to use if needed. They will only do enough to keep our money flowing to them, but not enough to truly alienate the extremists. Its enormously complicated, with factors such as Iran and Russia playing into the equation. Regardless, I just hope that Assange did a good enough job purging of intel that could jeopardize people, but when so much is being hid, this kind of knowledge should be made public, albeit perhaps a bit with a bit more ambiguous information.

Slashdot Wikileaks Challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046346)

Name ONE item that the world DIDN'T know about U.S. quagmire BEFORE Wikileaks leaked the 90,000 documents.

I double dare you.

Yours In Kranoyarsk [youtube.com] ,
Kilgore Trout

Consider, also, *what* is classified (5, Insightful)

whitroth (9367) | about 4 years ago | (#33046382)

We know, for a fact, that there's a *lot* of material being classified that has *ZERO* relation to national security, and every relation to embarrassing or revealing criminal malfeasance by those doing the classifying.

Let's see the documents that Cheney and Bush used to justify invading and conquering Iraq. Let's see the ones explaining the real reasons that the US did *not* use our troops to take Tora Bora.

              mark "and where's the war crimes tribunals?"

A self righteous self important prick (1, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 4 years ago | (#33046392)

And somewhat naive to boot. Sorry if that upsets the anti government anti capitalist liberal left element on here but thats the way I see it. Who the hell is this guy to decide for a democratically elected government what should remain secret or not? I don't remember voting for him. I notice theres a distinct lack of leaks from the real unpleasent regimes around the world, just the standard issue potshots at western governments that I've come to expect from left leaning organisations. When he leaks something of importance from north korea or zimbabwe or congo THEN I might believe he's something more than just a media whore.

Re:A self righteous self important prick (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046472)

A democratic elected government -cannot- be secret otherwise it fails to elect good leaders. If I'm paying for a war, I better know damn well where every chunk of lead paid for by me, the taxpayer, went. I better be able to know if it hit a civilian, a terrorist, one of our own soldiers, etc. I better know how much the war is costing, both in lives, loss of freedom, and in terms of dollars.

And before you say this guy doesn't leak anything of importance from other regimes, there has been many leaks of censorship lists and other nasty documents from China and other dictatorships, its just that things like that don't make headlines here in the west.

How do you expect us to elect good leaders if we don't know what they do? By the media which ignores facts? By some magical-ness that lets you look at a candidate and see if hes a good choice? By commercials which lie?

The knowledge of just about everything the government does is essential to maintaining a free country. Otherwise how the hell do I know who to vote for?

Re:A self righteous self important prick (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33046942)

With the exception of the president, who is elected and may have personally classified something at some point, you didn't elect any of the people who classified those documents either...

There is a need for classified material. (5, Insightful)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 4 years ago | (#33046420)

Some things simply have to be kept private, if national defense is to function in our best interests. It's simply impossible for anyone outside of the government to second guess what must be kept secret, and what must not. Julian Assange is not in a position to make these judgments. He simply does not have the complete picture. All leaking bits and pieces can do is create a less than complete picture. He is not doing U.S. citizens a service. Conversely, if we cannot trust our government to make this decision, we need to do something about our government.

Terrorists (4, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 4 years ago | (#33046448)

So I wonder why members of their organizations never send anything to WikiLeaks? Makes the playing field somewhat uneven don't you think?

I still say (1)

das3cr (780388) | about 4 years ago | (#33046486)

If something awful happens to befall the guy he gets what he deserves. I'd even support any Gov't efforts to help that something awful along. He's put the lives of people in jeopardy. He thinks it will somehow serve a greater purpose if those people (our sons and daughters serving as war fighters) get killed rather than allow the Govt's to have classified communica. He's a buffoon.

Re:I still say (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046648)

Of course! Because we all know how well democracy works when people can't get facts. Facts are -essential- to any sort of democracy without facts democracy falls apart.

These things were all pre-Obama all quite old. It is -essential- that people get the facts without them being obscured. Without it, democracy can no longer work.

Without facts, explain to me how democracy can work?

Re:I still say (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33046762)

Secrecy is entrusted to the government on the assumption that it will only be used when truly needed.

However the same power can be and is abused to subvert the freedom of its own people, as misappropriation for personal gain by powerful people and used to cover up ineffective, improper, illegal or immoral activity.

Whistle blowers object to these abuses and fight against it in the only way possible, by removing the shroud of secrecy and revealing these violations of trust to the public.

Mistakes may be made, but revealing the abuse of trust by the government is vital to the continuation of freedom and democracy.

WikiLeaks probably has their own agenda (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046490)

The trap we can fall into with WikiLeaks in my opinion is that they themselves can craft a leak to suit their own political agenda. If they are the ones responsible for redacting certain information in information they are going to post, it wouldn't be very hard to redact or edit certain parts to make documents sound very different than the original.

What they are doing is great in principle but they are in a position of "power" that is easy to abuse. I'm not suggesting they should stop but we as readers need to take what they post with a grain of salt and do as much fact checking as we can.

Re:WikiLeaks probably has their own agenda (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#33046530)

Well of course, but I imagine that Wikileak's agenda is based on facts much more than CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BBC, etc. agendas are.

Sorry, but is is attention whoring (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about 4 years ago | (#33046644)

Ok, more details about ugly side of war. We all know what happens there. Pakistan is _partly_ to blame about Taliban? News at 11. Civil casualities? Sadly, but these things happen in the war.

Except ammo for Afghan war opponents it doesn't give me or any other knowledgeable person new stuff about situation there. I respect WikiLeaks about other leakages, but I think this is overplayed and overhyped just for site owner's sake - and it feels wrong to do that. It feels that Julian doesn't want WikiLeaks to be neutral source of information but propaganda voice.

This guy is a criminal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046676)

Assange is a criminal, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if what he has leaked in this case is actually harmful or not - just because it's been published doen not mean the infomation is not still classified. He needs to be taken into custody, charged with mutliple serious national security crimes, and then locked away for the rest of his unnatural life, at the very least. And if someone follows him, chase them down as well, ad infinitum, if necessary.

He's already got blood on his hands. I shudder to think whose blood his next "leak" will spill. Maybe the blood of someone you love ? Maybe mine ? Maybe YOURS ?

Natural Progression (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33046782)

History tells us that Wikileaks will eventually end up in one of three states.

Untrusted news source: They will drift into corruption and/or incompetency and lose their credibility.
Beholden news source: Their donors will congeal into a very small number giving very large percentage of donations.
Self-serving news source: They will focus only on the stories that will stir the most controversy and thereby gather the most publicity for them.

Agenda behind everything (4, Insightful)

Sprouticus (1503545) | about 4 years ago | (#33046910)

I think Wikileaks plays an important role in information being free (as in information)

My concern is that with the things that he releases, and especially what he chooses to focus on, that he has an agenda and that he is using what is otherwise noble to press that agenda.

the open flow of information (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#33046954)

benefits open societies and hurts closed ones

i jut wish that there were a way wikileaks could get more secrets from closed societies in a way that was less deadly

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