Julian Assange: Modern day hero, or unaccountable knave?

News, information, and comment about 'the media'

Moderator: Super Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Julian Assange: Modern day hero, or unaccountable knave?

Post by SquidInk » 05-17-2010 10:28 PM

Profile: Julian Assange
Julian Assange dreamt that one day the internet would streamline the leaking of state secrets.
...

Believed to be a 37-year-old Australian, with boltholes in Sweden, east Africa and Iceland, Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, a website that cheekily dubs itself the “uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis”. Designed as a digital drop box, the site is a place where anyone can anonymously post sensitive information.
...

The one secret Wikileaks has failed to divulge is Assange’s early background. He is reported to have said that his parents ran a touring theatre company in Australia and that he went to more than 30 schools. However, The Australian newspaper has unravelled striking parallels between Assange and a character named Mendax in a book called Underground, which details the exploits of teenage Melbourne computer hackers. Assange, who collaborated with Suelette Dreyfus, the author, has not denied that he was Mendax.

According to Underground, Mendax was a prodigiously intelligent child who never knew his father and spent much of his youth travelling across Australia. As a teenager, Mendax invented a computer program that enabled a group of hackers called the International Subversives to invade computers at the Pentagon, Nasa and other top-secret organisations.

Mendax/Assange supposedly left home at 17 after being alerted to a police raid, fathered a child at 18, and had a breakdown after he was charged by police. “Briefly hospitalised, he lived rough in the hills outside Melbourne for a period,” the publication summarised.

What is known is that in October 1989, just as the Atlantis space shuttle was about to be launched, Nasa’s computer monitors suddenly showed one giant word — “Wank”, the acronym for a hacker group calling itself Worms Against Nuclear Killers. Assange was one of six Melbourne teenagers arrested by police; although never implicated in the Nasa attack, he was charged with more than 30 counts of computer crime. Admitting 24 of them, he was placed on a “good behaviour bond” and ordered to pay A,100 (about £1,275 at today’s rates).

“He was opposed to Big Brother, to the restriction of freedom of communication,” recalled Ken Day, who led the federal investigation. “His moral sense about breaking into computer systems was, ‘I’m not going to do any harm, so what’s wrong with it?’ ”
- source

Anyone have an opinion?

~
Last edited by SquidInk on 05-17-2010 10:41 PM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-18-2010 10:56 PM

Have been mulling over this, SquidInk. Here's what I've come up with.

Not sure 'wiki leaks' and Assange is a positive thing. Assange appears to support transparency - as though that were a valuable thing in itself. I would suggest, though, what he is really attempting to press is the issue of accountability. If so - then it is fair that he also be held accountable for his behaviors.

It would appear that releasing information without a clear way ahead for what consequences may develop - is a lack of accountability - or responsibility for one's behaviors.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 05-18-2010 11:16 PM

Well... that's an interesting point, Linnea.

I wonder if it's realistic to expect the messenger to have a plan for dealing with the consequences of a leak, in addition to being held responsible for the accuracy of the information. Was this the case in the past - with the release of the Pentagon Papers, for instance? In fact, isn't it an expectation like that which leads us down the road to "managed" information? Release the information if the response can be properly managed...

Like Disclosure? :D

I realize you are talking about accountability, not management, but I think the mechanisms are in place to hold wikileaks accountable for any illegal activities (theft, libel, etc). It's not as if Assange cannot be apprehended at any moment. He was just in custody last week in Oz, for publishing the details of a government plan to blacklist certain websites & censor the 'net. So, I think it becomes an issue of management. I think Assange believes we can deal with the un-managed information - one way or another, unlike the class "elites" in corporate media who believe that "commoners" cannot possibly comprehend the complexities of the world scene.

I think what attracts me to this guy and the site is the fact that it *seems* real. In an age of heavily managed/accountable/liability free "news", wikileaks seems utterly raw - even reckless in it's disregard for consequences & it's pursuit of "freedom" of information.

Any day I expect my enthusiasm to be shattered by some revelation that this organization is like all the rest.
Last edited by SquidInk on 05-19-2010 12:38 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-18-2010 11:36 PM

I also find much of what you have mentioned to be favorable. 'No censors', etc..

However - does detailed information on how to construct weapons of mass destruction need to be out there - for instance?

How about information that would have the effect of screaming 'fire' in the theater?

We cannot assume all of humanity is reasonable and beneficent. It isn't.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-18-2010 11:38 PM

SquidInk wrote: Any day I expect my enthusiasm to be shattered by some revelation that this organization is like all the rest.


Oh, yes! There seems to be no bottom...
:eek:

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 05-18-2010 11:53 PM

Linnea wrote: I also find much of what you have mentioned to be favorable. 'No censors', etc..

However - does detailed information on how to construct weapons of mass destruction need to be out there - for instance?

How about information that would have the effect of screaming 'fire' in the theater?

We cannot assume all of humanity is reasonable and beneficent. It isn't.


I think ideally, there would be no wmd, but since they have appeared - is it safer for everybody to have access, or only a few secretive sociopaths?

I don't know the answer to that one. I can say with some certainty though, "freedom" & "transparency" seem more "right" than secrets, & censors. But again, I think I am willing to accept the consequences of freedom.

I don't think screaming "fire" in a theater is wrong. However, I do think lying is wrong.

I agree with your assessment of humanity - the crazy part is the least honorable among us are the "managers"! So, based on that fact alone, I think wikileaks is on the right path, even if the the process needs a little refinement.
Last edited by SquidInk on 05-19-2010 12:10 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-18-2010 11:58 PM

I agree. All in all, though with some problems - it is good to push back at the encroaching darkness...

With better intentions and information - we would not need 'managers'. Leaders, yes. Managers, no.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 05-19-2010 12:08 AM

Linnea wrote: With better intentions and information - we would not need 'managers'. Leaders, yes. Managers, no.


Yes! That is the most important distinction in the whole conversation (imho), Linnea.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-19-2010 12:12 AM

Yes. However, we are still left with most people do not give a damn. At some level (and I know Joe Quinn goes there often) - it is this indifference which is the clear and present danger - evil, even. Even more so than the subterfuge of the 'interested people'.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 05-19-2010 12:36 AM

Linnea wrote: Yes. However, we are still left with most people do not give a damn. At some level (and I know Joe Quinn goes there often) - it is this indifference which is the clear and present danger - evil, even. Even more so than the subterfuge of the 'interested people'.


Well JoeQuinn is right.

Wikileaks is offensive to many people because those people have enmeshed themselves in an envelope of purposeful ignorance - the theory being if they don't know about it, they cannot be held responsible for it. Wikileaks, and freedom of information in general, represents a threat to this ability to deny knowledge of the truth.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Linnea
Moderator
Posts: 14985
Joined: 04-22-2000 02:00 AM

Post by Linnea » 05-19-2010 01:37 AM

'The truth shall set you free...' Not a concept which has much of a following.

and...

There is no freedom without responsibility.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 06-02-2010 10:21 AM

This doesn't look good. But who knows, it could be the latest salvo in a hidden informational warfare campaign against WikiLeaks. That's the problem - who knows where the truth is stashed anymore?

On a related note, this is why I consider most "anonymous" utilities like Tor and startpage, to be honeypots. Although, in this case Tor was used by some sophisticated hackers to siphon information. I'd say Tor gave this a thumbs up.
WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblowing site that exposes secrets of governments and corporations, bootstrapped itself with a cache of documents obtained through an internet eavesdropping operation by one of its activists, according to a new profile of the organization’s founder.

The activist siphoned more than a million documents as they traveled across the internet through Tor, also known as “The Onion Router,” a sophisticated privacy tool that lets users navigate and send documents through the internet anonymously.

The siphoned documents, supposedly stolen by Chinese hackers or spies who were using the Tor network to transmit the data, were the basis for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s assertion in 2006 that his organization had already “received over one million documents from 13 countries” before his site was launched, according to the article in The New Yorker.

Only a small portion of those intercepted documents were ever posted on WikiLeaks, but the new report is the first indication that some of the data and documents on WikiLeaks did not come from sources who intended for the documents to be seen or posted. It also explains an enduring mystery of WikiLeaks’ launch: how the organization was able to amass a collection of secret documents before its website was open for business.

Tor is a sophisticated privacy tool endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other civil liberties groups as a method for whistleblowers and human rights workers to communicate with journalists, among other uses. In its search for government and corporate secrets traveling through the Tor network, it’s conceivable that WikiLeaks may have also vacuumed up sensitive information from human rights workers who did not want their data seen by outsiders. - source


article con't...
I really want to believe in WikiLieaks...
Last edited by SquidInk on 06-02-2010 10:31 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 06-03-2010 10:12 AM

Long, but worth the read in my opinion:
Assange was burned out. He motorcycled across Vietnam. He held various jobs, and even earned money as a computer-security consultant, supporting his son to the extent that he was able. He studied physics at the University of Melbourne. He thought that trying to decrypt the secret laws governing the universe would provide the intellectual stimulation and rush of hacking. It did not. In 2006, on a blog he had started, he wrote about a conference organized by the Australian Institute of Physics, “with 900 career physicists, the body of which were sniveling fearful conformists of woefully, woefully inferior character.”

He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010 ... z0pnr1TYO2
Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

That is what I've been trying to say for years, but I'm not as smart as this guy.

I hope it's real.

It's a sympathetic - even romantic - write-up for sure, but who cares.
Last edited by SquidInk on 06-03-2010 10:56 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 06-12-2010 11:16 AM

Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who released the pentagon papers in 1971, appeared on MSNBC today with Dylan Ratigan. He said he fears for the safety of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who is reportedly on the verge of leaking secret State Department cables. The Daily Beast reports that Assange is currently being sought by the Pentagon, and Ellsberg advises him not to reveal his whereabouts.

“We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism,” says Ellsberg. “Now as I look at Assange’s case, they’re worried that he will reveal current threats. I would have to say puts his well-being, his physical life, in some danger now. And I say that with anguish. I think it’s astonishing that an American president should have put out that policy and he’s not getting these resistance from it, from Congress, the press, the courts or anything. It’s an amazing development that I think Assange would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown.” - source


This interview is pretty chilling. It shows that Obama's America is no different than Dubya's, which is absolutely no different than Nixon's America in '72. Wait a second... I guess JoeQuinn has said that about a million times already. Ratigan is talking about it too - he gets some credit for effort.

The difference today is that when Obama comes up with some sort of criminal drivel about using "special operations operatives against anyone abroad" nobody cares. They have successfully placed an information barrier between the people of the nation(s), and the wars.

That's why we need WikiLeaks. Leaking the information is morally superior to using the classification system to cover up continuous war crimes, and anything-goes-profiteering by those at the "top".

Having said that, my thoughts are with Assange & his network, as I am absolutely sure they are in the cross-hairs of the System.

Related Story
Last edited by SquidInk on 06-12-2010 11:34 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

User avatar
SquidInk
________________
Posts: 5862
Joined: 03-15-2007 03:48 PM

Post by SquidInk » 06-22-2010 10:17 AM

Could WikiLeaks really have information regarding Echelon?
In an interview with the ABC's Foreign Correspondent, Mr Assange said cryptically of WikiLeaks' current project:

"I can give an analogy. If there had been mass spying that had affected many, many people and organisations and the details of that mass spying were released then that is something that would reveal that the interests of many people had been abused."

He agreed it would be of the "calibre" of publishing information about the way the top secret Echelon system - the US-UK electronic spying network which eavesdrops on worldwide communications traffic - had been used. - source


I am skeptical that this type of information has been leaked, due to the compartmentalized nature of such top secret systems. Although, if this is true, then I think it's a sort of verification of the effectiveness of the WikiLeaks model, & we may be closer to other long delayed disclosures.

The problem is this: COIN ops against WikiLeaks must be in full blown overdrive, so it's only a matter of time until it is infiltrated (by any means necessary), & becomes a honeypot, or a tool for massive dis-information campaigns, probably.

Also worth noting:
Iceland has passed a sweeping reform of its media laws that supporters say will make the country an international haven for investigative journalism.

The new package of legislation was passed unanimously at 4am yesterday in one of the final sessions of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, before its summer break.

Created with the involvement of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, it increases protection for anonymous sources, creates new protections from so-called "libel tourism" and makes it much harder to censor stories before they are published.

"It will be the strongest law of its kind anywhere," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP for The Movement party and member of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which first made the proposals. "We're taking the best laws from around the world and putting them into one comprehensive package that will deal with the fact that information doesn't have borders any more."

Wikileaks has been involved in the drafting of the package of laws alongside Ms Jonsdottir from the beginning of the process more than a year ago. Its founder, Julian Assange, worked from Iceland on the organisation's release of the incendiary video of an apparently unprovoked American helicopter attack in Iraq that left eighteen people dead, including two journalists.

Mr Assange did not respond to requests for comment via email yesterday. But in February, he wrote: "All over the world, the freedom to write about powerful groups is being smothered. Iceland could be the antidote to secrecy havens ... it may become an island where openness is protected – a journalism haven." - - source


A haven for freedom of the press? There was a time when America would have been very interested in such a development. In fact, it would have been America, & not Iceland making headlines as a fortress of freedom. After all freedom of the press was formerly important enough to be etched into law as the very first amendment. But that was a long time ago - a very long time ago. Or maybe it never happened at all.

Well, America is probably still extremely interested in this series of events - but for much more ominous reasons. Now American interests have been piqued because the Deciders have stop the Evil-doers, right?
Last edited by SquidInk on 06-22-2010 10:54 AM, edited 1 time in total.
For if it profit, none dare call it Treason.

Post Reply

Return to “Media Watch”