[Marxism] can we trust Assange

hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Mon Aug 8 08:57:40 MDT 2016


 The Times has been the Clinton campaign newsletter since 2006 and makes no bones about it. Pravda had more objectivity! Alex Gibney is such a phony.

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart 

Message: 19
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2016 10:19:16 -0400
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
   <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Subject: [Marxism] Can We Trust Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?
Message-ID: <84137165-2451-f478-a9d1-d8b69a33fb8d at panix.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed

NY Times Op-Ed, August 8 2016
Can We Trust Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?
By ALEX GIBNEY

The release of a cache of emails from the Democratic National Committee 
by WikiLeaks last month has raised a great many questions ? about the 
role of the D.N.C. in trying to influence the primary and about the 
alleged interference of Russian intelligence in an American election.

It also raised long-debated questions about WikiLeaks itself, about how 
an organization dedicated to radical transparency continues to bring 
secretive worlds to light. And the episode reveals some of the 
weaknesses of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, like their 
recklessness with personal data and their use of information to settle 
scores and drive personal agendas.

I?ve had my own run-ins with Mr. Assange. During the making of my 2013 
film, ?We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,? I spent an agonizing 
six hours with him, when he was living in an English country house while 
out on bail. I was struck by how insistently he steered the conversation 
away from matters of principle to personal slights against him, and his 
plans for payback. He demanded personal ?intel? on others I had 
interviewed, and dismissed questions about the organization by saying, 
?I am WikiLeaks? repeatedly. (Later, Mr. Assange and his followers 
attacked both me and my film.)

Even given that history, I believe that WikiLeaks was fully justified in 
publishing the D.N.C. emails, which provided proof that members of the 
D.N.C., in a hotly contested primary, discussed how to undermine the 
campaign of Bernie Sanders. They are clearly in the public interest.

As for Mr. Assange?s animus against Hillary Clinton ? he has written 
that she ?lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless, 
stupid wars which spread terrorism? ? that is evidence of bias, but no 
more than that. After all, many news outlets are clearly, and sometimes 
proudly, biased.

We still don?t know who leaked the D.N.C. archive, but given Mr. 
Assange?s past association with Russia, it wouldn?t surprise me to learn 
that it was a Russian agent or an intermediary. Mr. Assange insists this 
is a mere distraction from the issue of D.N.C. interference, but the 
answer is also in the public interest. We should all be concerned 
(although hardly surprised) if it is that easy for the Russians to break 
into the D.N.C. and possibly United States government networks.

As for the way the leak was published, Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks have 
more to answer for. Contained in the D.N.C. archive were Social Security 
numbers and credit card data of private individuals, information that 
served no public interest. Mr. Assange defended this invasion of privacy 
by claiming that deleting the information would have harmed the 
integrity of the archive.

But there is a responsible tradition of redacting potentially harmful 
private information. In 2010, just before publishing the first Afghan 
war logs provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, Mr. Assange and a 
group of journalists from The Guardian, The New York Times and Der 
Spiegel were engaged in a tussle over redacting the names of Afghan 
informants. The three publications all decided to do so, but Mr. Assange 
disagreed. As he told Nick Davies of The Guardian, ?If an Afghan 
civilian helps coalition forces, he deserves to die.?

Others present at this time insist that he was concerned about their 
safety but had little technical ability to do the redactions on a tight 
deadline. The net result: Mr. Assange held back 15,000 documents and 
published the rest, including the names of about 100 Afghan civilians.

There is no evidence that any of those people were killed. But people 
could have been hurt. And his refusal to redact allowed the United 
States government to deflect attention from the evidence of possible war 
crimes by claiming that Mr. Assange had blood on his hands.

In an underappreciated part of the WikiLeaks saga, computer-savvy 
volunteers at the organization corrected Mr. Assange?s mistake and used 
an inventive computer program to scrub names and identities from the 
second leak of documents, the Iraq War Logs. It was an exemplary display 
of how to publish sensitive materials. Sadly, Mr. Assange reverted to 
form in subsequent leaks, including the unredacted publication of 
251,000 State Department cables and his recent release of the emails 
from the A.K.P., Turkey?s ruling party, which exposed the personal 
information of more than one million Turkish women.

By comparison, Edward J. Snowden has been much more careful about how 
leaked documents were published. He recently criticized Mr. Assange, 
noting that WikiLeaks? ?hostility to even modest curation is a mistake.?

Mr. Assange has also leaked documents to benefit his private aims. In 
2010, he ordered an associate named James Ball to pass 90,000 cables 
covering Russia, most European countries and Israel to a shady 
journalist named Israel Shamir, who, according to Mr. Ball, later 
offered them to pro-Putin Russian media outlets for a $10,000 fee. It 
also seems likely that Mr. Shamir passed documents to Belarus?s brutal 
president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, just before a crackdown on 
opposition activists (which WikiLeaks has denied). Mr. Shamir is also 
the father of Johannes Wahlstrom, a Swedish journalist who helped to 
engineer a vilification campaign against the two women who accused Mr. 
Assange of sexual assaults and who was to be a key witness had Mr. 
Assange been tried for rape in Sweden.

For many of those who know him well, Mr. Assange is afflicted by what 
the police call ?noble cause corruption,? a belief that noble ends 
justify reckless or immoral means. In a world awash in new information ? 
and misinformation ? context, motivation and trust are crucial when 
weighing the importance of leaks and their accuracy. Mr. Assange still 
claims that WikiLeaks is a beacon of transparency. We should no longer 
take him at his word.

Alex Gibney is a filmmaker whose latest documentary, ?Zero Days,? is 
about cyberwarfare.


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