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A Man Is NOT An Island: Our Julian?

Posted: October 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Revolute, WikiLeaks | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on A Man Is NOT An Island: Our Julian?

Julian AssangeWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is accustomed to being alone, working outside the pack is something the revolute does well. He now however finds himself more isolated than ever, fighting extradition and deserted by many of his former partners and friends, an Island. His organisation is crippled and unable to receive the leaks that are its lifeblood. Can WikiLeaks and Assange survive?

WikiLeaks is effectively closed for new business after the computer mastermind behind the site – The Architect – walked away from the organisation last year, taking with him code essential to the operation of the Wikileaks web site.

Assange himself is appealing against a decision that he be sent to Sweden to answer questions about sex allegations involving two women last year. The High Court in London is expected to decide within days whether Assange should be extradited. On ABC TV’s Foreign Correspondent, Assange denied the site he founded is in crisis.

Julian Assange

“There is no problem in the hundreds of relationships that this organisation has signed partnerships with, on every continent except Antarctica, none of those have failed. They are all strong” said Assange.

The Architect walked when Assange’s former deputy, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, also fled the operation after a falling out with the Australian founder. The Architect took with him the all-important submission system that allows whistleblowers to lodge sensitive information and keep their identities secret. Since then Assange and WikiLeaks have NOT been unable to accept online submissions.

Mr Domscheit-Berg says the WikiLeaks drop box is all The Architect’s creation.

“Not a single line of code ever was made by Julian. He has no role in creating the submission system and neither have I. And neither did I or he ever have access to that system,” Mr Domscheit-Berg said.

Mr Domscheit-Berg has been building a WikiLeaks rival that, despite great fanfare, has so far failed to launch. He and other former operatives have told Foreign Correspondent of the bad blood that pervaded the WikiLeaks operation and has accused Assange of making serious threats.

“He became very paranoid about the way he was dealing with me, dealing with others as well. He threatened me that he would hunt me down and kill me,” Mr Domscheit-Berg said.

In the meantime, Assange is under virtual house arrest at the stately home of a supporter in rural Norfolk, north-east of London. If the High Court decides Assange has to be extradited to Sweden to face sex allegations, his lawyers, including Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, are worried the Swedish authorities will hand him over to the United States.

“Under the US Espionage Act there are sections that do carry the death penalty,” Mr Robertson said.

“For that reason I suspect he wouldn’t be extradited on those charges, but there are lesser charges that carry up to 10 years imprisonment. And that is what he would face, 10 years in a maximum-security prison.”


He’s been called intelligent, arrogant, brilliant, difficult, a revolutionary, a megalomaniac, a terrorist.

Julian Assange, who was born in Townsville, Queensland, and grew up in Australia, is the founder, editor-in-chief and high-profile public face of WikiLeaks, a site designed to publish private, secret and classified documents uploaded by anonymous sources.

Mr Assange launched the site in 2006 and it came to global prominence last year with a series of leaks beginning with the release of a classified United States military video showing a US helicopter crew mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher before firing on a group of people in Iraq.

That was followed by the release of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, hundreds of thousands of secret military field reports documenting graphic accounts of torture, civilian killings and other incidents in those campaigns.

Then in November came the release of the first of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables, describing international affairs from 300 embassies.

Mr Assange is a former computer hacker and is famed for having no fixed address, crashing at other people’s places and living out of a backpack. Journalists who have worked with him say he uses multiple mobile phones, email addresses and encrypted chat rooms for communication.

The ultimate aim of WikiLeaks is to change the behaviour of the world’s most powerful governments and companies by exposing secret and unjust planning actions through leaks, Mr Assange says. WikiLeaks does not support one group or political party but rather supports those who act in an open and transparent manner.

“All these people who are more open and more transparent in their plans and more just in their plans stand to gain in the environment under which planning is under heavy scrutiny,” he says.

Asked whether that will just result in governments becoming more secretive, Mr Assange says: “Those parts of government which become more secretive will become more inefficient and will lose their influence, it’s that simple.”

Mr Assange is currently facing an open investigation into allegations of sexual assault in relation to encounters with two women. He has not been formally charged with any offences but Sweden is fighting to extradite him from the United Kingdom on suspicion of sexual assault.

He turned himself into the Metropolitan Police in December and was remanded into custody; he was subsequently granted bail with a condition of residence at Ellingham Hall, Norfolk and required to wear an electronic tag.

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Daniel Domscheit-Berg

Daniel Domscheit-Berg is a disenchanted former spokesman for WikiLeaks who has parted ways with the organisation, launched his own site called Open Leaks and written a book titled Inside WikiLeaks: My time with Julian Assange at the world’s most dangerous website.

Mr Domscheit-Berg says he became involved with WikiLeaks in November 2007 and was a passionate believer in its cause, becoming a spokesman for the project.

He characterises Mr Assange as one of the most intelligent people he has ever met but says ultimately the WikiLeaks founder was corrupted by the power put in his hands.

Mr Domscheit-Berg says he parted ways with WikiLeaks because it became a political player and was no longer neutral. He writes that Mr Assange “has megalomaniac tendencies” and while he was trying to put transparency into other organisations, he did not have to answer to anyone about his decisions regarding WikiLeaks.

While he has painted Mr Assange as power-hungry, delusional and irresponsible, Mr Domscheit-Berg says he has also inspired a “very, very important idea” and managed to put it into everyone’s living rooms.

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: David House, Bradley Manning Support Network

US intelligence analyst Private Bradley Manning is one of the central figures in the WikiLeaks story but his name is not as well known as Julian Assange.

Private Manning has been charged with releasing classified information and is being held in solitary confinement in a US military brig at Quantico, Virginia. Having grown up in Oklahoma and enlisted in the US military, Private Manning was deployed to Iraq as an intelligence analyst, a role which gave him access to the US’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, used to transmit classified information.

If the claims against Private Manning are accurate, he was the main source of all of WikiLeaks’ high-profile document releases.

David House has been one of only a very few people to visit Private Manning since he was first detained in May 2010. Mr House says he was an acquaintance of Private Manning’s before his arrest but now classifies himself as a friend.

He describes Private Manning as statesmanlike, professorial, intellectual, very profound and very ethically honest with himself.

“I think he’s going to be an amazing individual when he gets out of prison and he may have a future in politics,” Mr House says.

Private Manning was arrested after a former computer hacker named Adrian Lamo reported him to US authorities, saying Private Manning had confessed in an internet chat room that he had downloaded classified material and passed it to WikiLeaks.

At the time of writing, Mr House had visited Private Manning seven times in prison. He says the terms of his custody have seen Private Manning deteriorate both physically and mentally.

“He’s unable to exercise, he’s kept in a cell for 23 hours a day and the only exercise he gets is walking around an empty room in chains,” Mr House says, adding that Private Manning is allowed no personal effects, no books and no access to the news.

Mr House says the US Government is putting immense pressure on Private Manning to implicate Julian Assange in the leaking of classified information so they can prosecute him.

Mr Assange says WikiLeaks has no way of knowing whether Bradley Manning is a source, as its technology was designed to never know that.

“If the allegations against Bradley Manning are true, he is the United States’ foremost political prisoner,” he says.

He too believes Private Manning’s solitary confinement is an attempt to embroil WikiLeaks in “some sort of espionage-related charge”.

For his part, Mr Daniel Domscheit-Berg says he knew nothing of Bradley Manning before the Private’s arrest, which he describes as shocking and devastating. He says Private Manning’s case deserves more attention.

“There’s not even the slightest bit enough of attention that (Manning) is getting,” he says.

“All the fame and all this hype about WikiLeaks and Julian (Assange) and Julian’s problems in Sweden… I mean, what are these problems in Sweden compared to the trouble that this Private is in, this person who potentially is, I think, one of the biggest heroes for freedom of information in our time.”

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Adrian Lamo, former hacker, threat analyst

Adrian Lamo is a former hacker who now works as a threat analyst. He reported Private Bradley Manning to federal authorities, saying Private Manning had admitted to leaking tens of thousands of sensitive and classified US government documents.

Mr Lamo says Private Manning revealed to him during internet chats that he had leaked United States intelligence information, including more than 250,000 State Department documents, to WikiLeaks. Extracts of the chat logs have been published by Wired, the Wall Street Journal and others.

Mr Lamo had been a supporter of WikiLeaks but decided that in Private Manning’s case the need to protect national security outweighed the public’s right to know. He characterises the decision to turn Private Manning over to the authorities as the hardest of his life.

“I absolutely feel that I betrayed his confidence,” he says. “I had to choose between being a good friend to Bradley Manning and being a good friend to the untold multitudes that might have their safety and security prejudiced by the information that he was electing to reveal wholesale. I had to choose between the good of the many and the good of the one.”

Mr Lamo says he would do the same thing today if he had the same information he had at that point but he would not wish the decision on anyone else.

Private Manning, he says, was naive and overly idealistic but was trying to do good.

“I hope that at the end of an adequate sentence he will be able to come out of prison as a relatively young man, rebuild his life and move forward. In other words that he will have the same opportunities after his offence that I had after mine.”

David House from the Bradley Manning Support Network has cast doubt on Mr Lamo’s credibility, saying there is a “real question about whether these (chat) logs are valid at all”.

“This is an individual (Mr Lamo) who was a convicted felon; this is an individual who was in a psychiatric hospital just three weeks before allegedly turning Manning in; this is an individual who has been a government informant for some time, so I wouldn’t trust anything this guy says,” Mr House says.

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Poulsen, Wired.com senior editor

Kevin Poulsen from technology website Wired.com became involved in the WikiLeaks story when Adrian Lamo approached him to tell his story about encountering Private Bradley Manning in an internet chat room and deciding to reveal the chat logs to US officials.

Like Mr Lamo, Poulsen is a convicted former hacker; he has since reinvented himself as a journalist and before WikiLeaks came along he had used Mr Lamo as a source for previous stories.

Mr Lamo says he contacted Poulsen because he felt that what had happened deserved public review and it would come out one way or another; he wanted to make sure that when the information came out, it came out accurately.

Poulsen says Private Manning grew up in Oklahoma, enlisted in the Army and after being deployed to Iraq he apparently started seeing things he did not agree with happening within the Army and began to feel he was part of something evil.

Private Manning comes across as “very idealistic and young”, Poulsen says, but not mentally unsound.

“He was able to articulate a reason for doing it, a very specific (and) whether you agree with it or not a very well thought-out reason for doing what he did. So… in my view anyway there’s no need to start looking at whether what he did was an aberrant act driven by some inner demons or anything like that.”

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor

It’s not every day that a newspaper editor is handed a massive trove of classified documents outlining the gory details of life and death in a theatre of war.

But this is just what happened when Julian Assange handed Guardian journalist Nick Davies and editor Alan Rusbridger the Iraq and then Afghanistan war logs, made up of hundreds of thousands of secret military field reports documenting those battlefields.

Rusbridger says his paper’s relationship with Mr Assange goes back to a time when the WikiLeaks founder was a long way from the household name he is today. The Guardian has run stories off the back of documents unearthed by WikiLeaks since 2007 at least.

But getting access to the first tranche of the war logs took things to a whole new level for Rusbridger.

“It sounded extraordinary and when (Mr Assange) first came back with his password and we opened up the website, and this was just the first set of war logs, you could immediately see that this was of tremendous significance and was going to make an awful lot of people and governments really unhappy,” he recalls.

Mr Assange has a very black-and-white view of transparency, “a fairly absolutist view” that the world would be a better place if there were no secrets, Rusbridger says.

Although Mr Assange has been a difficult man to work with, Rusbridger believes the Guardian’s collaboration with WikiLeaks, alongside other media organisations, has been eminently successful.

“I think it’s been an immensely worthwhile episode. I think it’s brought out vast amounts of hugely significant material.”

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Dean Baquet, New York Times Washington bureau chief

The New York Times became involved as a media partner with WikiLeaks via the Guardian, helping to analyse and publish reams of material on the back of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the subsequent release of secret diplomatic cables.

The Times’s Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, was closely involved in the project and says it was clear from the very beginning that the WikiLeaks documents were “pretty remarkable stuff”.

“We had the moments of seriousness and we realised the gravity of it but we were also like kids in a candy store,” he says.

“The greatest story, to my mind, of this era for journalists, at least for the US, is the way September 11 has transformed foreign policy… and suddenly as journalists who’ve had to rely on third-hand, fourth-hand, late-night interviews with people who knew pieces of this, we had the whole story so we were elated; of course we were.”

Mr Baquet says the paper’s relationship with WikiLeaks founder Assange was “pretty bad from the beginning and has gotten worse”. Relations went sharply downhill, he says, after the paper published a profile of accused leaker Private Bradley Manning that painted a portrait Mr Assange did not agree with.

“We tried to understand why Bradley Manning, who’s been accused pilfering the cables, why he did it. Assange’s view was a simple view that Bradley Manning is a patriot who is an anti-war activist and we talked to people who thought it was more complicated.”

Mr Baquet says he does not think Mr Assange should be extradited to the US or charged with a crime in relation to the leaks.

“There was a tremendous public service interest in the publication of this information,” he says.

“There may be a gulf between what we are; I view myself as a journalist and I don’t view Julian Assange as a journalist in my view, but what occurred was a journalist act and I’m uncomfortable with somebody being prosecuted for a journalistic act that had an important public service.”

Further reading:

KEY PLAYERS: Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower

Former US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg is a whistleblower who released the so-called Pentagon papers, a top-secret Pentagon study that exposed US government deceit over the Vietnam War.

After the leak to the New York Times, Mr Ellsberg was charged under the US Espionage Act, though the charges were later dismissed due to governmental misconduct and illegal investigations.

Mr Ellsberg used a photocopier to leak the 7,000-page ‘Pentagon papers’ collection; despite the very different technologies in use today, he sees many parallels between his actions and the WikiLeaks revelations.

If, as accused, Private Bradley Manning did leak much of the key material WikiLeaks has released, then Mr Ellsberg says he admires him.

“What we’ve heard… in the chat logs is his motives sound exactly like mine. He said: I was actively participating in something I was totally against.”

The style of Manning’s incarceration is appalling, Mr Ellsberg says, and designed to coax him to testify against Julian Assange, thereby allowing the US to launch conspiracy charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

“I’m so impressed by what (Manning) did and what he said were the reasons… (and) as he put it, his readiness to go to prison for life or even be executed. That resonated with me very greatly because that’s the mood I was in 40 years ago and I just haven’t heard it expressed by anyone in this context ever since. Let me just guess that they won’t break him – I hope not.”

Further reading:

Related links


More on Julian Assange & Wikileaks

Bradley Manning – WikiLeaks Suspect Formally Charged

WikiLeaks: Three Years On, Manning and Assange Both Await Court

Our Julian Extends His UK Stay

Assange Loses Appeal Against Swedish Extradition

Money Matters: Wikileaks Forced To Cease and Desist

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Our Julian Surrenders Himself

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I enjoy crushing bastards . . .


Check ABC.net for superlative Assange coveragehttp://abc.net.au/

source: abc

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