Wikileaks Tid-Bits, For Starters
-wikileaks.org has put more pages of information into the public intellect than Wikipedia.
-Wikileaks has released more classified documents since 2005 than the rest of the world’s media combined.
-The organization has 5 full time staff and hundreds of volunteers.
-The site can no longer be accessed through the URL wikileaks.org because Amazon, it’s US financial backers and owners of the wikileaks.org domain name, have withdrawn.
-The site is mirrored on over 507 distinct Internet Protocal addresses across the web. Details of Wikileaks’ musical chairs match through international servers and freedom of speech laws is a book unto its self for some technically minded journalist in coming decades.
-The service has not accepted user comments or edits – including crowd-sourced means of document verification – over a year.
[some, hopefully,] Prescient Background
Julain Paul Assange is the 39 year old Australian, self described journalist and computer programmer, and the intellectual and technical caretaker of wikileaks.org, which he co-founded in 2006. His speech is calculated and hesitant, his hair often changes length and colour and it has been reported that it’s recently turned prematurely grey.
The first leak came in 2006, regarded Somali Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys’s official order to have compatriot officials assassinated. In 2009, the service published a risk analysis report leaked from one of the largest banks in Iceland, Kaupthing Bank, which showed the institution’s “substantial exposure to debt default risk.” Minutes before RUV (Iceland’s national news broadcast service) was set to air the story, an injunction was filed preventing the report. Instead, a screenshot of the Wikileaks homepage was broadcast. In terms of publicity and international political alignments, this was a turning point.
A survey of the mainstream British press over the past several weeks indicates mixed feelings about the freedom of speech dissident (one of Assange’s many epithets).
The BBC frequently uses the term whistle blower site or whistle blower, referring to wikileaks and its sources.The Guardian tends to call Assange founder of Wikileaks, the Telegraph prefers Wikileaks founder or the Australian, the Daily Mail often go with Wikileaks Chief.
The subject reached a news fashion critical mass in December when Assange handed himself over to British authorities (the reason for the international arrest warrant [politics or sexual harassment] is unclear). By 11 am on the day of his arrest, Google aggregated 5,000 articles on the arrest story from UK news sources alone. Although media treatment of Assange remains a delicate matter, public interest appears to be growing.
In His Own Words
In following coverage of the Mogul of Mystery Media, himself, it’s struck me how frequently members of the press ask him, as well as guest experts, about his intentions. The following is a brief survey of Julian Assange’s own words on his goals, methods and motivations.
Assange’s package explanation of what Wikileaks typically is runs hence: we spend considerable resources on technical security to do two things: keep material published, and protect sources. In 2009, he told Icelandic media: “We use the tricks that multi-national corporations use to rout money through tax havens, only to rout information through international, multi-jurisdictional networks.”
In a televised interview with Press TV in April, following the release of Baghdad footage of a US Apache helicopter gunning down a crowd of 12, including two Reuters journalists, Assange was his underwhelmed, evasive self. He spoke to the American woman conducting the interview, explaining things in the tired, tolerant way of someone who’s not been asked a new question since 2006.
“We make a promise to our sources that if something is hidden from the public and is not self authored and is of diplomatic, political, ethical or historical interest, we guarantee to release it and to protect them.”
In a talk at the Oslo Freedom Forum (May 2010) Julian Assange stated that his goal with Wikileaks is to get information that will achieve political reform into the public record and keep it there. He argued that “censorship in the West is used as an excuse for censorship in other countries,” and alluded to the corrosion of enlightenment ideals in America.
The Mad Prophet of the Webwaves is also fond of discussing the importance of the world’s Archives. He says the “record of our history is moving online.” Archives have been centralised on computers because people no longer search records of information in libraries. In Oslo, he referenced Orwell: “he who controls Internet servers, controls the intellectual record of mankind, and by controlling that, controls our perceptions of who we are, and by controlling that, controls what laws and regulations we make in society.”
In a July interview with the Economist, Assange admitted (in his way) that it is ultimately his and his team’s responsibility to determine what is and is not dangerous material to publish.
The official Wikileaks motto is We Open Governments.
Assange told a public interview at a TED conference in July that his “core value” is that “capable, generous men do not create victims, they nurture victims.”
On The Second Day of Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing
At this point, it’s all but impossible for a layperson or pedestrian news consumer to wade through the volume of coverage regarding the rape allegations against Julian Assange and arrive at any sort of an objective or meaningful opinion about his guilt or innocence.What can be arrived at is a feeling for the
reach these allegations have had throughout the media world.
In December, Assange told the BBC that by his calculations, 4 of the 5 million webpages that mention Assange, also mention the word rape. There are 33 million webpages that mention rape in any context. That means that 12 per cent of all mentions of rape on the entire Internet are in association with Julian Assange.
This is a striking figure, especially for someone as aware of the growing role digital media plays in recording human history.
The Guardian described Assange’s extradition defence as “graphic” and the story shared a page with Lib-Dem MP Mike Hancock’s aid, Katia Zatuliveter, accused of being a Russian spy. The key thing here is the the word ‘Spy’ that leads the headline and is further emphasised by quote marks. Although this editorial decision makes thematic sense, one could read it as another step in the Guardian’s falling out with Assange. Would the same page placement have been chosen four months ago?
The FT Weekend played it straight, presented both sides of the swelling row between Swedish authorities and Mr. Assange’s camp. Most notably, their reading of Swedish Prime Minister, Frederik Reinfeldt’s no comment on Assange’s defence team’s remarks as “no wish to get drawn into a war of words” was astute. See also, the FT Weekend came blurred on Saturday. (Read: I’m an awful photographer.)
The Independent insisted on the “enemy” angle, quoting Reinfeldt labelling Assange as “‘public enemy number one’ in Sweden” and Geoffrey Robertson saying Assange “has been denounced as an enemy to the people.”
Finally, the ever tasteful Daily Mail led a story about excerpts from a coming book by Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Wikileaks co-founder who has since fallen out with Assange) leaked to Gawker with “Assange has ‘fathered four love children.’” The relevant excerpt is quoted below, the last sentence (that I’ve put in bold) of which is the important, but not most entertaining bit:
“Often I sat in large groups and listened to Julian boast about how many children he had fathered in various parts of the world.
“He seemed to enjoy the idea of lots and lots of Julians, one on every continent.
“Whether he took care of any of these alleged children, or whether they existed at all, was another question.”