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Interview With the Man Behind WikiLeaks 489

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the balls-of-steel dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, explains why he feels it is right to encourage the leaking of secret information. He maintains that the more money an organisation spends on trying to conceal information, the more good it is likely to do if leaked. For Assange, leaked intelligence reveals the true state of governments, their human rights abuses, and their activities, it's what the 'history of journalism is.' On the media's role in making information available to the public, Assange maintains that 'the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information [classified documents] than the rest of the world press combined.'"
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Interview With the Man Behind WikiLeaks

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  • But for some reason the firehose put it down to purple and it was rejected [slashdot.org]. I understand he's a media whore with shady beginnings but what was everyone afraid of? That the interview would go poorly and he'd start releasing sensitive Slashdot information? :-)
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:10AM (#33046380) Journal

      I was wondering what happened to that.

      I guess some people harbour angry feelings towards him for releasing that military video - something along the lines of loose lips might sink ships. I think more good than harm came from releasing the video, but I can see where it strikes a nerve with some people.

      I mean if your kid happened to be in the military - and it would appear that the military is hiding something your kids may or may not be doing - it would make you feel uneasy, to say the least. Most parents would still side with their kids though.

    • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:25AM (#33046584) Homepage Journal

      he's a media whore with shady beginnings

      Anyone would become a "media whore" in a situation where being one could make the difference between staying alive or getting shot in a dark alley with noone caring about it...

    • by Aurisor (932566) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @01:19PM (#33048596) Homepage

      I understand he's a media whore with shady beginnings...

      Yeah he really gets off on drawing attention to militaries killing innocent civilians. What a self-centered jerk.

    • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @06:24PM (#33051910)

      'A media whore with shady beginnings' ? Hardly..

      He's got open-source projects under his belt with rubberhose (which, at the time was pretty cool), and boring stuff like NNTP caching. He's did a fair amount of work in the security / privacy computer sciences.

      And if you think about it, his impact on the world with wikileaks has been greater than essentially everything he did before it. And he's remained true to his ideals consistently, he didn't just hop on the web2.0 'lets start a wiki' thing out of no-where. It's an extension of his political and ethical belief system.

      Haters gonna hate..

  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:49AM (#33046002) Homepage Journal

    Wikileaks and the Daily Show are some of the very few examples of real journalism we can find today, I hope they team up and become a hilarious force of journalistic good.

    • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:52AM (#33046044) Journal

      Don't get me wrong, The Daily Show is great, but it's not really journalism - they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field, etc. It's more editorial or commentary on the news. All of the new clips they show on the program come from other news sources.

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:57AM (#33046152) Homepage Journal

        Don't get me wrong, The Daily Show is great, but it's not really journalism - they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field, etc. It's more editorial or commentary on the news. All of the new clips they show on the program come from other news sources.

        They're the only one bothering to do background research, they're the only ones exposing contradictions and bullshit, sure they only comment on news already told, but their analysis is head and shoulders above any of the "real" news shows. And those shows also mostly only retweet news.

        I stand by my attack on news organizations: They all suck and a comedy show is better at their job than they are.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mdarksbane (587589)

          I will say that the exposing hypocrisy in media is one thing the Daily Show does really well.

          It sometimes amazes me in this age of data mining that there is not a database of every statement every major public figure has made on every issue kept by major new organizations. It should be nothing more than a couple minutes of searching to pull up every statement Obama, for example, has made on Iraq, making it ridiculously easy to point out if he changes his message.

          The segments where The Daily Show has public

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nadaka (224565)

        Most of their material covers what other news sources have reported.

        They do occasionally send "reporter|comedians" to the field.

        The best examples of this are their coverage of conventions during national elections.

        They do interview actual persons of interest.

        Consider how far "real" journalism has fallen (most of it is also editorial and commentary).

        The comedy news isn't that far behind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Itninja (937614)
        Sure. The primary goal of the show is to make people laugh. But they do send their people into the field often. They have had their corespondents travel all over the world to speak with different people. I've seen interviews from India, Iraq, Sweden, and many other nations. There have been several on-site reports from multiple political conventions across the US (where they are viewed as card-carrying reporters). These are often accompanied by impromptu interviews with regular folks.
      • they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field

        Actually, they do send out people in the field from time to time, and then I don't mean "put them in front of a blue or green screen". See e.g. Jason Jones' excellent Behind the Veil [thedailyshow.com] series that was recorded in Iran.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by orgelspieler (865795)

        Did you see the week when Jason Jones happened to be in Tehran right about when the protests started? I don't know of any other American TV news show that had a reporter on the ground then. It was obviously just luck, but still interesting. The Iranian government thought it was real enough to arrest and interrogate one of Jason's interviewees.

        I think these guys are at least at the same level of journalism as Gretchen Carlson or Rachel Maddow. They don't break stories, they just comment on them. But at least

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602)

        Don't get me wrong, The Daily Show is great, but it's not really journalism - they don't break any stories, send reporters out into the field, etc.

        I disagree. I agree the daily show isn't really news about the world, rather its news about the news itself.

        They do break story's... if they had traditional headlines it would be:
        Fox news coverage of event X is rampantly partisan.
        CNN's coverage Y is inept.
        Glenn Beck contradicts himself on Z.
        John McCain said this 2 years ago, and the opposite today, and nobody is

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:56AM (#33046116)

      The Daily Show isn't an example of journalism, it is an example of editorialism. They are just upfront about it as opposed to the more mainstream "news" organisations like CNN or Fox News.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)

        The Daily Show isn't an example of journalism, it is an example of editorialism.

        I'd say they do both. Obviously they editorialize. But, as an example, when McCain says "I never said I was a maverick" (to pick a silly, obvious example), and they dig up a bunch of clips where he says "I'm a maverick", how is that anything but journalism? They take claims, do research, and present the results. Sounds pretty "journalism-y" to me. Heck, the show is basically founded on doing the same thing with the media at

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33046174)
      The Daily Show is more of a source of commentary on the news than a source of it. What is somewhat shocking, though, is that The Daily Show is where increasing numbers of young people are turning to learn what is happening in the world -- more conventional news sources must be doing a really bad job.
      • by IICV (652597) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:36PM (#33047922)

        They really are - MSNBC reports "this dude said A". And that's it.

        The Daily Show reports "this dude said A today, but last month he was saying not A! Further, his entire political position is premised on not A! So when he says A today, he's full of shit".

        And that's the sort of analysis we want to hear. The fact that it's also hilarious is a bonus.

  • Shirley (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:50AM (#33046010)
    from the balls-of-steel dept.
    Surely that should be 'balls of steal'.
  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:50AM (#33046022)
    HE should reveal the location of all US nukes and their launch codes... because those are kept secret and cost a lot of money.
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Informative)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:43AM (#33046912)
      Why do people constantly bring up nuclear launch codes in discussions about national security secrets? The system of nuclear launch codes was not designed to protect America from foreign threats; it was designed to protect foreign nations from rogue soldiers engaging in an authorized nuclear strike. The nuclear command and control system is mostly related to ensuring that our nuclear weapons can only be armed following an order from the President or a combination of cabinet members.

      That being said, the entire nuclear command and control system was designed when concerns about soviet spies were rampant. It was, naturally, designed to withstand a certain level of information leakage without compromising security. The idea that a leak on the scale of what Wikileaks does would somehow compromise our nuclear weapons system is a bit far-fetched; by the time Wikileaks even got around to publishing launch codes and missile locations, the information would be completely out of date and worthless (launch codes are changed daily, and missiles are periodically shuffled between silos; also, we open a certain fraction of our silos, chosen by the Russians, for Russian airplanes to photograph, as part of an agreement of assurances that we are not exceeding a certain number of nuclear weapons).
  • Blood on his hands (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:52AM (#33046040) Journal

    Julian Assange also admits someday he's probably going to have "blood on his hands." He has put himself in a tough situation. But I'm betting the increased daylight will do more good than bad.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:53AM (#33046076)

    I admire whistleblowers. But there is sometimes a fine line between heroism and stupidity. And whistleblowers almost always pay a hefty price for what they do. Best case scenario they either lose their job outright or are shuffled off into a corner somewhere, never to be trusted or promoted again. Worst case scenario, they end up in jail or dead. The "thanks" are usually short-lived, the stain of being an employee/contractor/soldier who can't be trusted lasts forever.

    I hope this guy and his whistleblowers continue to keep fighting and that Wikileaks is around for a long time. But, make no mistake about it, the powers-that-be will fight it. And the more Wikileaks releases, the farther those powers will be willing to go to silence the site.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgagnon (1663075)

      Now that the site has all of this press, it will be a LOT harder for "the powers that be" to do anything about it. If they close the site, a new one opens within hours or days. If they manipulate the site contents then they get called out by a thousand other news agencies and websites. About the only thing a government can do is to attempt to strong arm them or reduce everyone's freedom of speech.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:09AM (#33046374)
        It was a very smart move of him to involve big names like the New York Times. That will give him a degree of protection. But that only goes so far. If the powers-that-be are determined enough to get you, they'll either find some way to discredit you (the Scientologists are the Jedi masters of that one), or if they're REALLY pissed you'll just be the victim of an unfortunate car or plane crash (the CIA and KGB were best known for that trick).
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:54AM (#33046100)
    The press does a bad job specifically because it is not just a group of volunteers; the press ultimately needs to make enough money to pay reporters, journalists, editors, etc. In countries where news is a business, getting on the government's bad side can mean losing access to news sources (the ability to speak with powerful people); in countries where news is sponsored by the government, getting on the government's bad side could mean getting fired or receiving less funding. There are a few exceptional cases, such as the New York Times leaking the illegal wiretapping program, but more often than not it seems that news organizations avoid creating controversies.
    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:09AM (#33046364)

      I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing,

      an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?) with the job of (but not monopoly on)letting everyone know what the hell the other 3 are up to with as much protection from the other brances as they have from each other and as much power to root around in the others buisness as any wing of government.

      it used to be that the citizens were good enough at that job but nowdays with the way the weak ones are getting stamped on for trying and the rich and powerful don't give a damn I think it would be better.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:19AM (#33046500)
        Many government agencies have inspectors general [wikipedia.org] who are *supposed* to fill that very role. But the problem is that they're rarely independent in any meaningful way, making it highly unlikely that they'll perform any other role than making it *look like* someone is there to do fair investigations. Even at the executive level (in the U.S.) the Attorney General [wikipedia.org] is theoretically supposed to handle such investigations. But who is going to conduct any investigation of the President or his party when he is the very man who appoints (and can fire) them?
      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:21AM (#33046534)

        I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing, an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?)

        From The Fourth Estate [wikipedia.org]:

        Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Atzanteol (99067)
          Exactly. The press has really screwed the pooch lately. They're supposed to be an unofficial opposition to the government. But they've found it's far more profitable to simply take the dog scraps handed them than to do real investigation.

          Here's hoping citizen journalism can kick some spark back into the industry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          And outdated, misleading and a probably always untrue concept. The media has never been a check on the powers of government except in the rarest of instances. If you examine history, you will find that the media has always been the most powerful enabler of government corruption, abuses and injustices. The Afghan and Iraq wars are the perfect example of this. Ordinary people didn't want the war; experts knew there were no weapons; everyone knew it was all about oil. And yet the media--TV, radio and print--dr

      • by seanthenerd (678349) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @01:07PM (#33048392) Journal

        I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing,

        an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?) with the job of (but not monopoly on)letting everyone know what the hell the other 3 are up to

        I'm often surprised (and impressed) by how well the CBC here in Canada and the BBC in the UK objectively report on government actions and policies. Both of them are government-owned entities, but they seem to provide a much more critical lens on that very government than the private commercial news broadcasters do. It's really counter-intuitive.

  • Democracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33046170)
    Organizations like Wikileaks are essential to having a democratic country. Such a thing like the Afghan War Diary is very much needed to evaluate which leaders to elect. Remember these are our tax dollars being used/wasted to fight this war. We have a right to know the body count and the details about past missions. Without that how am I supposed to know who to vote for? If I don't have the facts, how can I make an educated decision? My only choice is through the mainstream media which doesn't have the facts.

    I need -facts- to back up my election choices. I need to know stuff like the Afghan War Diary, otherwise how will I know if its worth continuing the Afghan war? It seems my only two options in the mainstream media is either DESTROY ALL TERRORISTS WITH NUKES!!!!! and EVERY SOLDIER WHO GOES TO AFGHANISTAN KILLS 324234 CHILDREN!!!! and none of them deal with the facts.
    • Re:Democracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:05AM (#33046302)
      For me, Wikileaks represents a sliver of hope for citizen action; for-profit news sources and government operated news sources have become the tools of the very organizations (corporate and government) that wish to take advantage of the majority of people, but Wikileaks is run by average people who do not have a vested interest in taking advantage of the rest of the population. If there were more of this sort of citizen action, we would have a much stronger democracy, one that is not run by the powerful corporations and their lobbyists. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before more than a fraction of a percent of the population gets up and takes any sort of action on their own behalf.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33046184) Journal

    "Assange maintains that 'the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information [classified documents] than the rest of the world press combined.'"

    In some specific regards he's right. He and his staff take on some personal risks of reprisals, but I think the reason he is doing what other sources of Journalism aren't, is that he *can*. Unfortunately, most of the world media is either State-controlled, or owned by for-profit corporations, which means in the first case that they aren't allowed to report such things, by the government which controls them, or in the second case, aren't as willing to take the risks, because it might hurt profits.

    I think only a a relatively small, non-profit, or possibly, privately owned, organization can actually engage in such risky journalism, because they have basically nothing to lose (well, some of the staff could lose their personal property and/or go to jail).

  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:00AM (#33046214) Homepage Journal
    The drawback to wholesale leaks like this is that sometimes innocent people can be harmed. As an example, when Valerie Plame's identity was divulged, the CIA downplayed her official capacity as being that of a desk jockey. That's what they'll say whether she really is a desk jockey, or an elite 007 killing machine. Anyway, the problem with exposing Valerie Plame is that she had contacts in the field who were then exposed to have been meeting with a CIA agent. Kinda puts those people at risk within their own organizations.

    Same with these documents. Even a casual remark in a report about a helpful shop owner can put that person on a Taliban hit list.

    The perspective espoused by WikiLeaks is irresponsible and naive.

    Seth
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:05AM (#33046304) Journal

      And yet the Afghan leaks in particular, why not having a lot of out and out surprises, have better informed the public of this singular fact; that Pakistan, or powerful elements within it, are our enemies, and that we're fighting the wrong war. Afghanistan is unwinnable as long as that porous border allows Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence to cross unhindered.

      Democracies require information, and the public is the absolute boss. These leaks reveal that the US specifically, but no doubt NATO in general, have botched the show. Of course they dont' want that revealed, because it's damaging to the interests of all the paper tigers that have so screwed it up.

      What needs to happen is either to abandon Afghanistan or move the war into Pakistan directly.

      • move the war into Pakistan directly
         
        I agree we're not doing any good in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is a real mess; US influenced puppet government, strong anti-US sentiment from a lot of the population, 650,000 active troops [wikipedia.org], and they have nukes. Pakistan scares the shit out of me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by QuantumRiff (120817)

        Afghanistan is unwinnable as long as that porous border allows Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence to cross unhindered.

        You mean Vietnam is unwinnable as long as the porous border allows NVA and Vietcong to cross into Cambodia unhindered..

        Oh, wait.. you didn't.. Damn..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Let's step back from this a bit. You believe the solution to a losing war is to start a war with a neighboring country? Historically, this is a bad idea.

        One who has nuclear weapons to boot? The nuclear weapons are not bad because I think that the Pakistani gov't were use them against us, but who would take control of them once the gov't is destabilized by a war with America. That's what scares me the most about our current de-facto war with Pakistan. How long before a group, fed up with their gov't inabi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838)

        This is sounding an awful lot like "Pakistan is to Afghanistan as Laos is to Vietnam."

        Or alternately, a second Domino Theory, stating that "If one ignores the advice of top generals and starts a war in one south Asian country, like a domino you'll fall into a war in a neighboring south Asian country."

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:15AM (#33046450)
      The problem, though, is that people can no longer trust the government to give accurate information about our reasons for going to war, the state of affairs in the war, or what sort of conduct our soldiers are engaging in. If it were the case that when the government says, "this document is being kept secret to protect the lives of people who are helping us," we could actually trust that is the case and that the government is not just trying to hide some sort of mistake (like an apache helicopter crew killing someone who was trying to bring a wounded reporter to the hospital), then I would say that yeah, Wikileaks is not doing us a service. Unfortunately, when the government says something is being kept secret for national security purposes, it is not possible to know whether there really is a good reason to keep it secret, or if it is just part of another attempt to keep the public in the dark about what our supposed representatives are doing. Keep in mind that the US government classified a copyright treaty as a national security secret.

      As one of the people who works with Wikileaks recently said, the people in Iraq and Afghanistan know what is happening in the war. They see the civilian deaths all the time. Why, then, does the US government want to keep the American public in the dark about civilian deaths in the wars that we are fighting?

      Extreme secrecy on the part of the government demands the sort of extreme response that Wikileaks represents. Until we can trust the government, Wikileaks is doing vital and necessary work to preserve the right of the people to know what their government is up to, which is absolutely necessary for a democracy to work.
      • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:41AM (#33046878) Homepage Journal

        The problem, though, is that people can no longer trust the government

        That's really your whole post.

        Although, was there a time when people _did_ trust the government? Not during the Whiskey Rebellion. Not when the IRS was created. Not during the Nixon adminsitration.

        Is there some kind of average or poll whereby "the common man" says "I generally trust the government", and has that sentiment drifted overtime? Or have elements of society _always_ been distrustrful of government?

        I'd assert that I am certianly much less trusting of government than I was when I was a kid growing up in a republican household. I've subsequently had too many examples of encounters with the "justice" system leaving me with a distinct feeling of injustice. And too many situations where "my" government not only isn't representing me, but isn't even listening to me, and isn't even following its _own_ laws and rules (but which it expects me to shut up about and follow blindly).

        The culture of fear about the government is so bad now that people aren't doing basic useful things like _filling out the census_. But why should they? This information has been used for evil in the past -- when people trusted the government. The federal government has said that anyone with a Ron Paul bumper sticker is a possible terrorist. The government certainly doesn't trust Americans. It doesn't feel the need to protect their rights, and it doesn't feel the need to follow the laws binding its treatment of Americans on American soil.

        It seems that at nearly ever level of governance, from the top on down to the local policeman, there is a sense of "us" and "them", where the politicians and other agents of the state hold the populace in contempt, and the populace holds the ruling class in equal (or greater) contempt.

        The ruling class asserts its power ("legitimate" initiation of violence) nearly every day. The populace does so very, very rarely. There are more of "us", but we act infrequently.

        I think it will come to ahead soon. It doesn't matter how many elected officials we replace, the CIA will still have the same people in it. Your local police department will still have the same cops taking bribes and curb-checking you for trying to video them. There aren't enough good people running for office to fill in the vacuum even if we could vote out all the bad ones.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @01:43PM (#33048884) Homepage

        Why, then, does the US government want to keep the American public in the dark about civilian deaths in the wars that we are fighting?

        That's easy. The lessons that the military learned from Vietnam:
        1. Never show anything on TV that would indicate that US soldiers are suffering and dying. That includes flag-draped coffins, military funerals, wounded vets, etc.
        2. Never show anything on TV that would indicate that US soldiers are killing civilians. This is best done by carefully controlling the situations that reporters can see (see "embedded" reporters).
        3. Never institute a draft, so that wealthy college kids aren't affected, only poor and powerless kids.
        4. Never let on to the public how expensive the war is.

        This is an exact outgrowth of the "stab-in-the-back" theory of why we lost Vietnam - that the war was winnable except that those darn commie peacenik hippies convinced the politicians to end it. Notice how the entire process is to avoid letting the public know what it is that their money and blood is going towards.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:02AM (#33046242) Journal

    Someone recently linked an image comparing the CNN homepage with Al Jazeera Home page. The difference is extreme. One is a gossip rag, the other a, highly biased, news source.

    But CNN probably makes more money, or used to anyway.

    Remember the story about Ballmer being a bad CEO despite raising revenue and profits? That is because in the United Corporations of America, making a profit isn't enough you always go to be growing your profits and growing the amount by which your profits grow. Raise your profits for 10 years in a row by 25% and you are doing badly, it should be year 1: 25%, year 2: 40%, year 3: 60% etc etc. Impossible? Yes it is, but is what the stock market wants, what employees payed in stock options want.

    So everything in the UCA is constantly squeezed, cost cutting here, cost cutting there. Spend a little less, earn a little more until you are left with... well it the iPhone 4. Made with slave labour, broken by design. And no this isn't just about Apple. Dell is even better at it. Sold broken PC's, broke anti-trust laws everything to increase the bottom line year after year.

    And then you apply it to news. And news isn't cheap or efficient or effective. And you won't notice when it is gone until it is far to late. Until you get to a state that "politicians" refuse to speak to journalists and have them barred from events and only ask questions submitted in advance and then only those they like. Sarah Palin anyone? If you think she is bad, the exact same thing has been going on for a long time. Ask the wrong questions and forget about getting invited to the special events. So no reporter at a white house press briefing asks hard questions, at least not without prior approval.

    Think about it, if journalists asked real questions, guys like Bush and Blair would have been as embarrased as when they meet a private citizen who manages to corner them. Brits might remember Blair being totally unable to counter woman questioning him on public health care. Brown the same. What NO report mentioned is that not a SINGLE ONE OF THE PRESS CORE asked those questions. If you are reporter and you haven't had a poltician cry, then suck. And this is the same around the world.

    In Holland we have tv news for children. If you compare that show from ten years ago with the adult news, you will find that the adult news now is softer then the children news from way back.

    But who is to blame? Big business intrests? Perhaps, but we the public let them. We let the likes of Murdoch own every newssource. We don't refuse to watch fluf pieces on the news and now the fluff has become the news.

    And don't blame it on the right either. The left is just as guilty of it. The right has fluff pieces that ignore global warming and corporate corruption. The left has fluff pieces that ignore problems with immigration and culture clashes.

    Fluff is not just Idols, it is news that doesn't upset you.

    If you read a news source and you agree with it, then you are reading fluff. And we like it. See how quickly people resort to flamebait and troll to silence troubling thoughts on slashdot.

    There was another piece, that people seek communities in games that give them the least amount of stress. Well, that is also how we seek out news. Be REALLY honest with yourself, how often do you purposefully seek out news from a source critical to your own world views?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bryansix (761547)
      I actually seek out the news that makes me mad. I also seek out the news which is biased so I can comment on the bias and show with facts that back it up. This is a big reason that I support user submitted news websites like allvoices.com and others like it. When it comes down to it, the duty to report falls on the back of the witness who in most cases is a regular citizen.
    • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:57AM (#33047152) Journal

      Fluff is not just Idols, it is news that doesn't upset you.

      To paraphrase a great 19th century British newspaperman: news is what someone is trying to censor. Everything else is entertainment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bmsleight (710084)

      Think about it, if journalists asked real questions, guys like Bush and Blair would have been as embarrased as when they meet a private citizen who manages to corner them. Brits might remember Blair being totally unable to counter woman questioning him on public health care. Brown the same. What NO report mentioned is that not a SINGLE ONE OF THE PRESS CORE asked those questions. If you are reporter and you haven't had a poltician cry, then suck. And this is the same around the world.

      Sorry this is incorrect. The BBC in particular programs like the Newsnight ask the tough questions. Have a look at one famous example [google.com] (Paxman [wikipedia.org] Vs. Howard). The Politicians do not get an easy ride in the UK.

  • by Robotron23 (832528) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:05AM (#33046296) Homepage

    The fact this guy is the man of the hour over the Afghan leaks that caused such a hubbub two days ago does not mean he isn't flawed despite unduly positive portrayals on Slashdot and elsewhere.

    A big criticism of Julian Assange is his constant courting of the media to the point of being a prolific PR man - Slashdot did a post on him some months ago with the grandoise assertion that he was an 'Interational Man of Mystery'.

    Truth is that his past, which is hardly whiter than white given all the suspected hacking he has done, makes him out to be much less of a virtuous crusader and more an occasionally maverick human being like quite a few people who once embarked on black hat attempts are. I agree with Wikileaks and enjoy the prospect that authority will be questioned a lot more as a result...but Assange isn't angel or particularly 'moral' .

    The only thing which seperates him from older, more seasoned leaking website owners is that he is talented at courting PR and media, is decent at public speaking, and functions well as the recognisable 'face' of Wikileaks - nobody else in the leaking business has talent in the important matter of image, promotion and driving attention to his site. Were Assange lacking in that, Wikileaks would be nowhere near as famous/infamous as it is at the moment.

    • "Truth is that his past, which is hardly whiter than white given all the suspected hacking he has done, makes him out to be much less of a virtuous crusader and more an occasionally maverick human being like quite a few people who once embarked on black hat attempts are. I agree with Wikileaks and enjoy the prospect that authority will be questioned a lot more as a result...but Assange isn't angel or particularly 'moral' ."

      So... if I get this straight... his past is definitevely not whiter than white be
  • by BertieBaggio (944287) <bob@@@manics...eu> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:07AM (#33046336) Homepage

    I don't know how much of the content at the links below is repeated in TFA, but I thought these were good:

    Apologies to those outside the UK or otherwise without access as the second interview is on iPlayer.

    (Incidentally, the Guardian also had access to the Afghanistan data, as was mentioned in a previous /. article. Since I have the tabs open, I'll repeat some key links from that here:)

  • Good Stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdot AT warriors-shade DOT net> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:08AM (#33046340)

    As a USMC Iraq combat vet, who has for the past few months been studying the Afghan situation extensively, I can say that this is a good thing. Anybody who is actually involved knows that the Paki, and more specifically ISI, have been a problem for us since the early 80's, and not much has changed. The Paki's have and will continue to say "What? Not us!" but they are full of shit. The fact that the politicians are relatively good at hiding this fact undermines the general public's knowledge about the situation, and therefore it is a major part of controlling public opinion about our war. The facts are that we send money to ISI (often bypassing paki authorities completely) who then have (sometimes rogue) officers directly funding everything from afghan warlords, to Al Queda, to Paki Talibs, and on down the line. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has absolutely no interest in really getting rid of their extremists, on either border, because Islamabad has so much fear of India, the militants are a tool they plan to use if needed. They will only do enough to keep our money flowing to them, but not enough to truly alienate the extremists. Its enormously complicated, with factors such as Iran and Russia playing into the equation. Regardless, I just hope that Assange did a good enough job purging of intel that could jeopardize people, but when so much is being hid, this kind of knowledge should be made public, albeit perhaps a bit with a bit more ambiguous information.

  • We know, for a fact, that there's a *lot* of material being classified that has *ZERO* relation to national security, and every relation to embarrassing or revealing criminal malfeasance by those doing the classifying.

    Let's see the documents that Cheney and Bush used to justify invading and conquering Iraq. Let's see the ones explaining the real reasons that the US did *not* use our troops to take Tora Bora.

                  mark "and where's the war crimes tribunals?"

  • by whizbang77045 (1342005) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:12AM (#33046420)
    Some things simply have to be kept private, if national defense is to function in our best interests. It's simply impossible for anyone outside of the government to second guess what must be kept secret, and what must not. Julian Assange is not in a position to make these judgments. He simply does not have the complete picture. All leaking bits and pieces can do is create a less than complete picture. He is not doing U.S. citizens a service. Conversely, if we cannot trust our government to make this decision, we need to do something about our government.
    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:29PM (#33047792)

      I disagree.. If Deepthroat had not leaked info about Watergate to the press, there would have been many things different today.. (well, at least it wouldn't have taken so long for the campaigns to be run by crooks again)

      Leaks are how the people learn about how the government is corrupt, and change happens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ogdenk (712300)

      It's simply impossible for anyone outside of the government to second guess what must be kept secret, and what must not.

      And self defense is for police and soldiers.... If you've got nothing to hide you have nothing to fear..... Free speech doesn't mean we can't retaliate against you for promoting unpopular opinions or jail you to keep from expressing those opinions..... do I need to go on?

      Julian Assange is not in a position to make these judgments. He simply does not have the complete picture. All leaking bits and pieces can do is create a less than complete picture. He is not doing U.S. citizens a service.

      And having NO picture except the official propaganda is the better alternative to an "incomplete" picture?

      Conversely, if we cannot trust our government to make this decision, we need to do something about our government.

      Exactly but be careful how you word that statement speaking it publicly. You're bordering on a 1-20 year prison sentence under both

  • Terrorists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:15AM (#33046448)
    So I wonder why members of their organizations never send anything to WikiLeaks? Makes the playing field somewhat uneven don't you think?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:18AM (#33046490)

    The trap we can fall into with WikiLeaks in my opinion is that they themselves can craft a leak to suit their own political agenda. If they are the ones responsible for redacting certain information in information they are going to post, it wouldn't be very hard to redact or edit certain parts to make documents sound very different than the original.

    What they are doing is great in principle but they are in a position of "power" that is easy to abuse. I'm not suggesting they should stop but we as readers need to take what they post with a grain of salt and do as much fact checking as we can.

  • by Sprouticus (1503545) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @11:43AM (#33046910)

    I think Wikileaks plays an important role in information being free (as in information)

    My concern is that with the things that he releases, and especially what he chooses to focus on, that he has an agenda and that he is using what is otherwise noble to press that agenda.

  • benefits open societies and hurts closed ones

    i jut wish that there were a way wikileaks could get more secrets from closed societies in a way that was less deadly

  • by exabrial (818005) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:33PM (#33047860)
    I think Wikileaks is a great idea in theory, but just like the USA, EU, and everyone else... Wikileaks also has a political agenda.

    Lets says Pres Obama said, "I'm going to release 70,000 war documents about Afghanistan." And such documents detailed mostly happy things about the war in Afghanistan. We'd have CNN, Foxnews etc saying how the documents were released strategically to paint a light picture of a grim war.

    Yet somehow, when a third party receives documents and ADMITTEDLY filters through them, absolutely no one is questioning the political motivation of such third party.

    I'd like to believe in Wikileaks, but I don't trust the man's agenda, and neither should you. It's merely business as usual, and should be taken as 'another piece of the whole truth'.
  • by X.25 (255792) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:26PM (#33050242)

    I can't believe that all these raging rednecks are so blinded with rage, that they still can't understand that WikiLeaks was probably played (quite well) by yanks. I wouldn't be surprised if WikiLeaks was actually a CIA operation. It would be beautiful if it was.

    Think about it - what, exactly, has Wikileaks ever released, that has ANY value to anyone, except as entertainment for the sheep^H^H^H^H^masses?

    The biggest WikiLeaks achievement, so far, is to 'reveal' how Pakistan is not really a friend of US. Who benefits from this the most? Certainly not the sheep. Or Pakistan. But US govt, since they'll now have instant 'popular support' in any action (non-military, of course) against Pakistan. They could have not done this with normal media manipulation, in such a short time, even if they were fully dedicated to it.

    Everyone talks about WikiLeaks, but noone ever mentions Cryptome. Cryptome is the place where real information is released, where real sensitive data can be found, and Cryptome owner is a real living legend, considering how much effort and work he has put in it.

    So, why are all these rednecks not making empty threats against John Young?

    Oh, it's because you wouldn't know what good information (or logic, for that matter) is, even if it hit you in the head.

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