July 27, 2010


Below is an interview of Wikileaks' founder, Julian Assange, from shortly before Wikileaks' recent publication of "secret" US military docs re- Afgahanistan. First, a condensed version of a few of the speakers' remarks:

JA: . . . . So information that organizations are spending economic effort into concealing, that's a really good signal that when the information gets out, there's a hope of it doing some good. Because the organizations that know it best, that know it from the inside out, are spending work to conceal it. And that's what we've found in practice. And that's what the history of journalism is.

[Interviewer]: But are there risks with that, either to the individuals concerned or indeed to society at large, where leaking can actually have an unintended consequence?

JA: Not that we have seen with anything we have released. I mean, we have a harm immunization policy. We have a way of dealing with information that has sort of personal -- personally identifying information in it. But there are legitimate secrets -- you know, your records with your doctor; that's a legitimate secret. But we deal with whistleblowers that are coming forward that are really sort of well-motivated.

[Interviewer]: So they are well-motivated. And what would you say to, for example, the, you know, the parent of someone -- whose son is out serving the U.S. military, and he says, "You know what, you've put up something that someone had an incentive to put out. It shows a U.S. soldier laughing at people dying. That gives the impression -- has given the impression to millions of people around the world that U.S. soldiers are inhuman people. Actually, they're not. My son isn't. How dare you?" What would you say to that?

JA: Yeah, we do get a lot of that. But remember, the people in Baghdad, the people in Iraq, the people in Afghanistan -- they don't need to see the video; they see it every day. So it's not going to change their opinion. It's not going to change their perception. That's what they see every day. It will change the perception and opinion of the people who are paying for it all. And that's our hope.

* * * * *

[Assange's "core values":] . . . well, capable, generous men do not create victims; they nurture victims.

UPDATE: I don't quite get how the secret US docs re- Afghanistan recently released by Wikileaks tell us nothing that wasn't already a matter of public knowledge, AND at the same time, the release was an irresponsible act likely to endanger hundreds of lives.

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