December 15, 2010

WikiLeaks and Assange

My view on WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange will probably be unpopular with both sides of the debate. I think WikiLeaks is a revolution in transparency and should absolutely be supported by the people of the world. Governments throughout history tend to have the opinion that the masses are too stupid to understand what's best for them. Democracy was invented in part to combat this notion long held by those with power. Over the last couple hundred years or so people have realized that even in a democracy it is at times hard to force leaders to be transparent - even if we are the ones that choose our leaders. This need for transparency that we all feel led to the need for an organization like WikiLeaks. If our governments didn't hide things from us WikiLeaks would be irrelevant. As much as opinions on the left or right differ one common piece of ground that both share is the belief that the government has ulterior motives. WikiLeaks is a tool to give us insight into our leaders real motives.

I also think that Julian Assange is an awful spokesperson and leader for the WikiLeaks movement. I give him plenty of credit for coming up with a brilliant idea but I think that making him the focal point of the debate is a misstep. The focus of the international community should be on funding WikiLeaks and the newly formed OpenLeaks so that this movement can continue on and become a permanent wing of the fourth estate. I'm worried that by focusing on Assange and his legal defense we are taking away from the wider movement.

If Assange was being charged in connection with the documents he released it would be a good rallying cry for the movement. However, he is wanted for questioning in regard to some possible sexual misdeeds in Sweden from women he has already admitted to having sex with. Is it really so unreasonable that he should be questioned? If he wasn't the founder of WikiLeaks wouldn't you think it would be right for him to be questioned? If my blog was important enough for me to warrant having groupies and I had sex with two of them and they accused me of rape wouldn't you think it'd be the responsibility of the police to question me whether the charges were bogus or not?

If there is a U.S. led conspiracy to shut down WikiLeaks by getting Sweden to arrest him on some trumped up charges the immediate cliche that comes to mind is that to kill the snake you chop off the head. That somehow by getting Assange arrested WikiLeaks will wither away and die. To be honest if that is the U.S. government's big conspiracy it has to be the lamest they've ever come up with. If they really wanted to get rid of him wouldn't they just have someone run up on him in England with a knife and stab him a bunch of times? Wouldn't they hire a beautiful woman to seduce him and kill him in his sleep? Even if they didn't want to kill him why wouldn't they pressure England to come up with some trumped up charges? They have much more experience in human rights abuses.

Let's for a minute say that the conspiracy theories are true and this is a ploy to silence him. Wouldn't it be better to focus our attention on keeping WikiLeaks solvent since he will be gone anyway? I'll support WikiLeaks and organizations like it but I think it's a waste to encourage people to spend their money defending him when I'm sure he'll have the best legal counsel in the world working for him pro-bono. Support the organization, the movement and governmental transparancy. It is a cause far more important than any one man, now let's act like it.

13 comments:

  1. I agree, Chris. The whole thing is just wrong. On one hand, I think we should be supporting transparency. On the other, Assange and his lawyer aren't really doing themselves any favours.

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  2. I bet we're just getting the top layer of what's really going on here. It's hard to form an intelligent opinion when you probably don't know most of the pertinent information.

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  3. Assange is a jerk ,that's pretty clear.

    But what I find fishy is that both women publicly admitted that they didn't want to press charges, they just wanted to ask him to get tested for Stds, so I find the international response to the incident to be so completely excessive compared to how any other alleged offender would be treated.

    Regardless its irrelevant to the greater picture, the real issue with the US pressuring organisations like Paypal, Mastercard and Amazon to cripple wikileaks. The page itself hasnt done anything unlawful, in fact most information was published in Iceland where the laws are some of the strongest in the world supporting free speech.

    Assange may or may not have been unlawful but Wikileaks isnt and that should be the main focus.

    In saying that Assange hasnt made a lot of friends in traditional media outlets, constantly critisizing them for curtailing to the government...is it really surprising that reporting is really focusing on his alleged crimes?

    Assange himself hasnt asked for any donations for his defense the only good will they have asked for is replicating the wikileaks site on personal servers to ensure it cant be taken down. Thats what the supporters should be doing.

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  4. As a journalist, I totally agree with you. The government does hush up a lot of things the public deserves to know. It's appalling. On the other hand, I do agree there are things the government should keep a secret. But those only have to do with security issues...

    This whole fiasco has been so fascinating and eye-opening. I hope more people pay attention. I visit a lot of news blogs and not many share the same opinion as you. It's refreshing to see an open-minded point of view.

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  5. I think I need to read the news more. I've never heard of this. Wow I hate feeling uninformed. Excuse me while I correct the problem. :)

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  6. I agree re Wikileaks - as a journalist it's humbling because they've ended up with so many scoops that the mainstream media never got. On the flip side, he seems like one weird dude.

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  7. i think hes a dece guy, its not like he lied or anything just told the truth

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  8. I agree with you on this one - I'm all for governmental transparency.

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  9. i think it's ridiculous that people care so much about him. it irks me to no end when people mistake cause for creator. even if you're ten thousand percent in support of wiki leaks, it shouldn't matter who founded it. it's more important who reacts to it, who reads it, what it /changes.

    i envy your ability to articulate these things so concisely, christopher! i feel like i could ramble on for decades about things of this sort...

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  10. i think the guy is a jackass, but that our govt is being a bigger jackass because if they didnt want that info to get out, their security sucks. why aren't they focusing on the doofus(es) who allowed this information out?

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  11. Listen, I understand that all these people want "Transparency", but you understand he's led to the death of many interpreters, soldiers, and has set back the capture of many terrorists - and I don't just mean button men.

    But by all means, let's make sure you have your government transparency. No matter who does the dying in the process.

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  12. @EcoGrrl... you mean like Manning, the guy that's in jail and might face the death penalty? We're not focusing on him? Are you serious?

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  13. This whole thing fascinates me.
    Here is the deal, I believe in transparency and I believe that we, as citizens, should know what is going on in our government. But here is the thing, people don't care. For the most part people heard about the cable leak, voiced their opinions, and that was it. Most did not sit there, aren't sitting there thinking about what it means for America. We know about the dangers facing us, and we know or if you are smart you should know that the president lies, so yeah. But, it is what those cables do to our relationships wiht other countries that is important.

    The main factor here is that other countries care what we say about them and how they look to each other, us citizens, eh not so much.

    So it might turn out to be unhealthy for foreign affairs.

    I actually think it is hilarious that they are holding him on a ridiculous sex charge, really?

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