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Julian Assange

July 1, 2011


“You have to start with the truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.”

euphemism – “I want to set up a new standard: ‘scientific journalism.’ If you publish a paper on DNA, you are required, by all the good biological journals, to submit the data that has informed your research—the idea being that people will replicate it, check it, verify it. So this is something that needs to be done for journalism as well. There is an immediate power imbalance, in that readers are unable to verify what they are being told, and that leads to abuse.” Because Assange publishes his source material, he believes that WikiLeaks is free to offer its analysis, no matter how speculative. In the case of Project B, Assange wanted to edit the raw footage into a short film as a vehicle for commentary. For a while, he thought about calling the film “Permission to Engage,” but ultimately decided on something more forceful: “Collateral Murder.” He told Gonggrijp, “We want to knock out this ‘collateral damage’ euphemism, and so when anyone uses it they will think ‘collateral murder.” (No Secrets)

stopping leaks – “New formats and new ways of communicating are constantly cropping up. Stopping leaks is a new form of censorship. And in the same manner that very significant resources spent on China’s firewall, the result is that anyone who’s motivated can work around it. Not just the small fraction of users, but anyone who really wants to can work around it. Censorship circumvention tools [like the program Tor] also focus on leaks. They facilitate leaking. Airgapped networks are different. Where there’s literally no connection between the network and the internet. You may need a human being to carry something. But they don’t have to intentionally carry it. It could be a virus on a USB stick, as the Stuxnet worm showed, though it went in the other direction. You could pass the information out via someone who doesn’t know they’re a mule.” (An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange)

transparency – “Of course there are legitimate secrets. But we must make the default assumption that each individual has the right to communicate knowledge to other individuals. We call up our grandmother, and the government doesn’t listen in. Your mail can be sent, and the government doesn’t open it up. That is our default assumption. There is a community assumption that we can talk to one another freely and that it is right to exchange knowledge about what is happening in the world. Those assumptions are embodied in good jurisprudence. What we see coming out of the U.S. First Amendment is that Congress shall make no law in relating to restriction of freedom of speech or press. It doesn’t say Congress should make a law to protect the press. It takes the function of political debate and exchange of ideas outside the legislature. There’s a very good reason for that. It was the Federalist papers and the swapping of information that led to the U.S. Constitution and in an ongoing sense to the social structure that creates laws and legislation. It is the communication of information that regulates politics and the legislature, the judiciary and the behavior of the police. It’s quite important to have the default assumption that the free exchange of information should not be regulated except in specific and clear circumstances.” (Defending the Leaks: Q&A with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange)

force a confession – On Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, Assange says: “I’d never heard his name before it was published in the press.” He argues that the US is trying to use Manning – currently stuck in solitary confinement in the US – to build a case against the WikiLeaks founder: “Cracking Bradley Manning is the first step,” says the Australian hacker. “The aim clearly is to break him and force a confession that he somehow conspired with me to harm the national security of the United States.” Such conspiracy would be impossible, he says. “WikiLeaks technology was designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never knew the identities or names of people submitting material. We are as untraceable as we are uncensorable. That’s the only way to assure sources they are protected.” Yesterday, Assange’s lawyers warned that if he is extradited to America he could face the death penalty – for embarrassing the leaders of the US government. “They don’t want the public to know these things and scapegoats must be found,” Assange says. And despite the pressure the website has been under, reports of trouble at WikiLeaks are greatly exaggerated, he claims (Exclusive interview: Julian Assange on Murdoch, Manning and the threat from China)

Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971) is an Australian publisher, journalist, computer programmer and Internet activist. He is the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website and conduit for worldwide news leaks, with the stated purpose of creating open governments. Assange was a hacker in his youth, before becoming a computer programmer. He has lived in several countries and has made public appearances in many parts of the world to speak about freedom of the press, censorship and investigative journalism. Assange serves on the Wikileaks advisory board. He has published material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Côte d’Ivoire, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. In 2010, he published Iraq War documents and Afghan War documents about American involvement in the wars, some of which was classified material. On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its five international print media partners (Der Spiegel, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian and El País) began publishing U.S. diplomatic cables. Assange has received a number of awards and nominations, including the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award for publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya and Readers’ Choice for Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year (Wikepedia).

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