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The Guardian's Complicated Relationship With Julian Assange 237

Posted by timothy
from the it's-complicated dept.
Sonny Yatsen writes "Vanity Fair has published an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the unlikely and tumultuous working relationship between WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and The Guardian as the Iraq War Logs were being published. The piece highlights the differences and conflicts between the Guardian's journalistic standards and WikiLeaks' transparency. Particularly interesting is the revelation that Julian Assange threatened to sue The Guardian if they publish a portion of Iraq War Logs leaked to them by a disgruntled WikiLeaks volunteer, claiming 'he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released.'"
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The Guardian's Complicated Relationship With Julian Assange

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  • by elucido (870205) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:48PM (#34785614)

    What was he thinking? Threatening to sue? Did he really say he "owned" the documents?

    This is exactly the problem everyone has with Assange and why Openleaks will replace Wikileaks.

    Wikileaks no longer acts as a leak facilitator, it is not a political organization which selects what to leak, when, how. It's no longer a technology that acts like a dumb pipe, it's no longer functioning under network neutrality, it's now controlled top down by God aka Julian Assange.

    Wikileaks will be buried a year from now. Openleaks and many other organizations far superior will replace Wikieaks. Assange over estimated his importance.

    And I'm not someone who likes leaking in general, but if they are going to facilitate leaks then it has to be a dumb pipe which has no ability of the facilitator to decide what does or does not get leaked, how, or any of that. It should pass through the facilitator technology directly to the news organization, and there should be no interaction between the facilitator organization or it's technology and the sources EVER.

    • by Snotman (767894) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:11PM (#34785910)
      Oh where, oh where, oh where is Shangri-la? Give me a break. They have breast pads for leaking. I listened to Julian the other night on Democracy Now, but he did not sound like God. But then again, I do not believe in fairy tales. He sounded like a man that developed a product that he knows how to sell.
      • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:30PM (#34786110)

        If he is selling your secrets, what stops him from selling them to someone else when he is getting a little low on funds?

        What happens when he stops selling to keep himself out of jail?

        Transparency isn't a product

        • by countertrolling (1585477) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:36PM (#34786158) Journal

          Transparency isn't a product

          No, it's a commodity. To be bought and sold like everything else.

          • by glebovitz (202712)

            I think you miss the parents point. Transparency is an ideal like democracy and communism. Its the political corruption that distorts it into something unrecognizable. These are valid and important points. Transparency is not a product or commodity. If treated as such, then become a political tool. (you know, "absolute power corrupts absolutely", or something to that effect.)

            • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:40AM (#34788856) Journal
              Julian tried for 4 years to do the maximum transparency thing. 4 years. For free, without making a buck. Interest of the people in the medias ? null. A bunch of geeks knew it existed but that was not enough to attract the leaks of the world. Then he got interested in how journalists manage to make money and get people interested. He played their game and isntead of going 100% transparent, he chose the "10% more transparent than anyone else" and it worked wonders.

              Yes, he lost the geeks by doing that but he got mainstream, he got published in 5 major newspaper almost daily with that scheme while he never managed to get any press before that. I think it is pretty clear the the ideal approach just doesn't work. Ultimately we need to go in that direction, but by taking smaller steps, Assange manages to have a political weight. kudos for him. The fact that people calling themselves journalists are afraid of a lawsuit about publishing a leak is just hilarous. The fact that the threat comes from wikileaks adds irony to hilarity. It just shows how low journalism has fallen these days.
        • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:58PM (#34786350) Homepage Journal

          If he is selling your secrets, what stops him from selling them to someone else when he is getting a little low on funds?

          That sentence is redundant. Wikileaks cares only about big players and governments, the same ones that are the dirty rotten voyeurs data-mining the hell out of you -- the little guy -- sucking up your voice and data traffic like James Brown sucked the crack smoke from his glass dick*. The governments are the schoolyard bully who literally cries foul when that one brave kid mans up and finally hits him back. That brave kid is Assange.

          So Assange is a douchebag -- so what? Do you damsels in distress want the perfect, innocent, lovable Aquaman to come to your rescue and stand up for truth and justice? Do you guys want Jesus Christ(TM) to come kiss them on their crooked foreheads?

          Assange has what many of you don't -- a spine. No, he's not perfect. But he's done more in a few years than most of us will do in our entire lifetimes. Lighten the hell up, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy the fireworks.

          * For those of you who grew up in a plastic bubble, "glass dick" is slang for crackpipe

          • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:12AM (#34788272)

            The point is: you don't have to be a dick to run Wikileaks. It's not part of the job description. In fact it probably is a negative attribute.

            I know lots of people who stand up to injustice who I don't have to throw up qualifiers on before speaking of their integrity.

            My hope is that Assange is really just brewing personal controversy to selflessly keep the News Cycle affixed to the attached story longer than "Big leak today, lots of embarrassed public officials. And now a Squirrel on a skateboard." ...but I don't think he's that clever.

          • Exactly (Score:2, Insightful)

            Godwin be damned but the nazi's were bitten by commies, racists, anti-semites and biggots. Yes Americans, one of them is you or do you care to explain the moral difference between "Geine Juden" and "Whites Only"? The russians is obvious and the British racial crimes are so many that god has reserved a special place in hell for them, it is called england and it is a bleak and desperate place indeed to be damned to live in.

            Real heroes ain't supermen, they are people who decided to standup when most bent over

            • One day you'll learn the difference between something being done by the government of a country (or some other set of people within it) at some point in history; and that being the responsibility of the general population of that country, either then or now.
          • by Vryl (31994)

            Assange has what many of you don't -- a spine. No, he's not perfect. But he's done more in a few years than most of us will do in our entire lifetimes. Lighten the hell up, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy the fireworks.

            Hear Hear! Best comment on this whole saga so far.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      New years resolution was to stop caring about wrongs on the internet but what the hell:

      How is this bullshit modded insightful?

      The only reason anyone dares leak to wikileaks is Assange.

      You think anyone is stupid enough to send sensitive material to some anonymous "me toos" that might crack after 2 seconds of government pressure?
      Well OP might be I guess.

      • by rm999 (775449)

        Yeah, Assange is the only person in the World that can do that :/

        Also, why do you even need a single person in that role? Surely there must be a way for people to leak documents to the entire internet anonymously?

        I agree with GP, Assange has too much power in his role, and his politics and methods are at odds with what people assume his mission is. Many people believe wikileaks' mission is about openness and disclosure, but sometimes it feels like the opposite.

        • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:54PM (#34786808)

          Yeah, Assange is the only person in the World that can do that :/

          Also, why do you even need a single person in that role? Surely there must be a way for people to leak documents to the entire internet anonymously?

          Well, you tell me. Why didn't wikileaks happen until Assange made it happen? Why do strong-willed people like Richard Stallman, Jimmy Wales, and Mark Zuckerberg make history while most of us inoffensive types fail to make an impact at all? Must be coincidence.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by rm999 (775449)

            Leaks happen all the time. Wikileaks has lasted for four years and most people hadn't heard of it until a few months ago. Yeah, this leak was big, but we have no proof the leak wouldn't have happened without Assange. Given that the leaker was showing off to a stranger (and hence basically turned himself in) lends evidence that it *would* have happened without Assange. Either way, we're working with a sample size of 1 here.

            • by Vryl (31994)

              but we have no proof the leak wouldn't have happened without Assange.

              And we have no proof that the Invisible Pink Unicorn doesn't exist either.

              But, I digress.

              Assange is many things, but mostly a genius.

              He/they created a system (go and check out the Wikileaks mailing list that John Young leaked on Cryptome: http://cryptome.org/wikileaks/wikileaks-leak.htm [cryptome.org]) that allowed people to anonymously upload secret information.

              Anonymously.

              That is, no-one at Wikileaks has any first hand knowledge of who provided the leak.

              So, the evidence is that no-one leaked information on this scale pr

      • I dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:26PM (#34786588) Journal

        I dunno. Will people instead risk their job and freedom... just to make some dickweed richer?

        I mean, as long as it was some rhetoric about government transparency and accountability and all, sure, I can see how it would resonate right with a lot of people. But if that information just ends up "owned" by Assange and used to make some money for _him_, then wth, those people leaking stuff are just some unpaid sharecroppers.

        And really, the right idea is that the government and information about the government belongs to the _people_. And, wth, at what point does that become "owned by Assange" or "for sale to the highest bidder"?

        Disclaimer: I'm not entirely unbiased there. I've had the brief misfortune of being a coder on a MUD whose admins and all were very heavy on the OSS, openness and whatnot rhetoric. Then it turns out they're only for openness when it isn't about "their" code, meaning actually the code contributed by idealistic peons like yours truly. In fact, it was a whole surrealistic paranoia where everyone is out to steal "their" files and you had to jump through hoops and be treated like a spy to even get the headers you need to contribute such code. Now the situation isn't entirely similar, and it doesn't make me a freedom fighter or anything. But just saying that I happen to know first hand how it feels to contribute something in the name of some idealistic noble goal, and see it turned into someone else's property and glory. And it's a very bitter pill.

        And I can't help think how the guy who risked losing his job or going to jail to contribute those documents must feel when he reads that they're now Assange's private property, and that it's about making Assange money rather than any idealistic noble goal. I mean, wth, I didn't risk anything and still felt majorly shafted. How does it feel to think "I might go to jail if found out and/or be the guy nobody hires any more because of that, but damn, I made Assange some money"? Probably not fun.

        • That sounds about right, based on my experience in other analogous situations.

          It seems like all you can do is take that all into account, then still try to do what you think is right anyway. Otherwise its a weasel race to the bottom, which doesn't really work either.

        • by suv4x4 (956391)

          I dunno. Will people instead risk their job and freedom... just to make some dickweed richer?

          Don't be so simple. Do you really think he's running WikiLeaks to be rich?

          Little hint 1) He has personally supported WikiLeaks from his money for the most of the project duration.
          Little hint 2) He recently signed for his biography rights and said a lot of the money will go towards supporting WikiLeaks.

          My my, does seem it's all about profit.

          Now here's the reality: things cost money. Some of the people who work for him, want money (some don't, but not all). The machines WikiLeaks is hosted and maintained on,

    • It should pass through the facilitator technology directly to the public, and there should be no interaction between the facilitator organization or it's technology and the sources EVER.

      FTFY. There's no point in leaking to news organizations, they are just middle men who censor and massage the information any way they like to make a buck.

      We now have the technology to reach the masses directly, newspapers are so 20th century.

    • by williamhb (758070) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:58PM (#34786832) Journal

      What was he thinking? Threatening to sue? Did he really say he "owned" the documents?

      Oh dear, I have a nasty feeling this will come back to bite him if the US prosecutes. "Responsible whistleblower", "acting in the public interest", "public right to know", all those usual defences for publishing classified information tend go get a teensy bit undermined if you've been caught saying that really your motivation in publishing this classified information is personal financial gain.

      A pity, because personally I thought the take-home message from this whole saga so far was that it seemed actually governments could operate much more openly without the world crashing to its knees after all -- the much-feared releases, as published in The Guardian etc, had been very interesting and informative but had been received by the world at large in a very calm and reasonable manner, without disastrous consequences after all.

    • by suv4x4 (956391)

      What was he thinking? Threatening to sue? Did he really say he "owned" the documents?

      This is exactly the problem everyone has with Assange and why Openleaks will replace Wikileaks.

      Wikileaks no longer acts as a leak facilitator, it is not a political organization which selects what to leak, when, how. It's no longer a technology that acts like a dumb pipe, it's no longer functioning under network neutrality, it's now controlled top down by God aka Julian Assange.

      Aren't you a perfect picture. What would YOU do in his position? The function of WikiLeaks is to leak, but it has to be in a controlled responsible manner. Isn't that what everyone wants?

      What he said, was because he needed a legal motive to threaten to sue. What the real motive behind his threat was you'd probably never know. The documents might have had sensitive information that isn't in public interest, he'd prefer blacked out, like he has done with most documents WikiLeaks has released.

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      I like leaks, so long as they are done even half way intelligently. The problem with Assange, he's never shown even a shred of intelligence. And his hypocritical view of everything pisses me off - as do his brainless defenders - who are almost always pro-censorship - except for Assange. If the state keeps secrets its bad. If Julian keeps secrets its good. If someone steals documents and gives them to him, they're his. If those documents are released to others, they're still his and he'll sue? WTF? If govern

    • by Xest (935314)

      This is retarded, what gives you so much faith in OpenLeaks?

      I agree Assange is far from perfect but he's got the job done and that's what's important. Contrast this to the folks behind Wikileaks and they seem to be all talk and no action- have you looked at the logs between Assange and Domscheit-Berg? Have you looked at Domscheit-Berg's comments online, and his actions? If you think Assange is bad then wait until Domscheit-Berg enters the spotlight, we've already been told about how he's going to release a

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        I agree Assange is far from perfect but he's got the job done and that's what's important.

        Actually, he hasn't. He's sitting on top of shit loads of leaked material. He's not getting the job done. He's basically holding it hostage and selling it to the highest bidder. If he was even remotely, "getting the job done", the material he's sitting on would have long been made public.

        The simple facts are known, he's a hypocritical, sociopath, pushing his own selfish agenda and using the pro-wikileaks crowd as ignorant sock puppets.

    • by Vryl (31994)

      Wikileaks will be buried a year from now.

      Foo tucking funny. And citizendium will totally kill wikipedia. And netscape will smash microsoft.

  • by elucido (870205) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:52PM (#34785656)

    is being spread through Cryptome. The rumor that he is an informant for the Austrlian Federal Police does seem to be backed up by the story about him receiving warnings from Austrlian intelligence about dirty tricks.

    This is something worth looking into. Whether or not there is any truth to it or not, it's worth looking into for that reason but also to determine whether or not it is a smear campaign or global conspiracy to break Assange.

    • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:07PM (#34785868)

      The AFP aren't that complex. Besides, if they were involved, any smear campaign would have been slightly different:

      "Assange charged with 'being a dickhead' and 'drinking light beer'"

      As such, Australia would actually have grounds to arrest him - both are prosecutable here.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        "Assange charged with 'being a dickhead' and 'drinking light beer'"

        As such, Australia would actually have grounds to arrest him - both are prosecutable here.

        Only the second will get you arrested.

        The first will get you elected into parliament.

      • > 'drinking light beer'
        > prosecutable here.

        I have been to .au. Your "beer" is the same horse piss as the USA's, Canada's, Asia's, and yes, Belgium's[1] and anything other large[2] brewery that is farther than 100 km from Munich. Other than that, your country is pretty nice. But claiming that your beer is anything other than flavoured, bitter water is a joke.

        [1] Oh no, he didn't! Yes he did.
        [2] There are nice micro-breweries in many places. I still fondly remember a honey-wheat-beer from British Columb

    • by mug funky (910186)

      couldn't have anything to do with him being an Australian citizen, could it?

      my hope for Assange is he fade back into the shadows and learn some people skills (not the same as skills with the ladies, apparently, though by all reports he's pretty crap in bed as well). that's not to say i want him to stop with wikileaks - rather just that he grow up, keep up the good work and not try to own this amazing thing he's created.

      the "information wants to be free" mantra does not discriminate. it's all or nothing, a

      • by elucido (870205) *

        couldn't have anything to do with him being an Australian citizen, could it?

        my hope for Assange is he fade back into the shadows and learn some people skills (not the same as skills with the ladies, apparently, though by all reports he's pretty crap in bed as well). that's not to say i want him to stop with wikileaks - rather just that he grow up, keep up the good work and not try to own this amazing thing he's created.

        the "information wants to be free" mantra does not discriminate. it's all or nothing, and what happens on the internet stays on the internet.

        The CIA and FBI does not warn American citizens about honeytraps.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          getting into speculation, i highly doubt the AFP had any idea of a honeytrap, rather just an inkling that there were enough angry powerful people out there that dirty tricks were likely.

          if Assange had known about an impending honeytrap, do you think he'd have been stupid enough to sleep around? with active feminists no less?

          he got into the situation he's in because his secondary brain was overriding his primary one (the one in his head). a warning would have presumably stacked the odds in favour of that n

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:42PM (#34786212) Homepage Journal
      Think back to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_(computer_hacker) [wikipedia.org]
      He was offered community service (we caught you) and not seem to get a clandestine service offer (we need your skills?).
      Australia has its own banking network to watch all large cash flows and is part of the NSA 'network'. Every packet is mirrored ie room 641A for all.
      Australia had massive state and clandestine service efforts to track and discredit anyone of interest in the community well into the 1970's.
      The idea that that all stopped int he 1980's and 1990 with law reform is ... cute.
      So enjoy the outed Australian politician who likes to chat to the US embassy, the Russia/Intel offer but be aware of the geographic 'filtering' and other meetings.
      http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/07/26/times_wikileaks_white_house_meeting [salon.com]
      Enjoy the gems, but have a feel for the larger picture of useful leaks and new cyber laws.
    • There's a view that governments are so powerful and omniscient that only a government can defeat itself. This view gives us things like some 9/11 conspiracies and sadly things like where the post above is leading.
      Exposure to how many of these groups are nowhere as effective as they are on TV helps cure some of this. For instance in Australia we nearly had a bloodbath with ASIS operatives in a botched training mission carrying unloaded submachine guns versus armed Victorian State Police at a time when they
    • by grcumb (781340) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @11:54PM (#34787604) Homepage Journal

      is being spread through Cryptome. The rumor that he is an informant for the Austrlian Federal Police does seem to be backed up by the story about him receiving warnings from Austrlian intelligence about dirty tricks.

      That's the funniest thing I've heard so far this year. Congratulations!

      Seriously: Could you provide even the slightest corroboration for this?

      And while you're at it, I'd appreciate if you could respond to the stories floating around here lately that you're just making these accusations to draw attention away from the fact that you're a serial killer who stuffs live puppies and kittens into the gutted corpses of your victims and then burns them alive in a satanic death cult ritual.

      ... I'm not saying you actually did that, but now that people are talking, perhaps you could respond to the accusations.

    • by Woy (606550)

      You son of a bitch, it's worth looking into, like you would say anything else is worth looking into, so long you keep everyone distracted and NOBODY LOOKS AT WHAT IS BEING LEAKED.

      Tool.

  • by BlackSabbath (118110) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:02PM (#34785802) Homepage

    http://wlcentral.org/node/839 [wlcentral.org]

    The Guardian do not have clean hands in this matter.

  • Hardly a disinterested party. Reads more like a novel. And damn near as long.. In the meantime, all the "confidential" gossip is a nice side story.

  • by evanism (600676) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:15PM (#34785960) Journal
    Well well well.

    BIG difference if this was all a "for the public/good/mankind" effort.... making money from this stuff makes him look like a bloody spy/traitor/commercial scumbag.

    This really changes the tenor, doesn't it?

    It will be interesting to read the spin now. This act alone may be the unravelling.
    • Well, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Giving a reason is always spin? I do not wish to live in the world you live in, where even you seem likely to want to spin, and yet call others on it.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:30AM (#34787792) Homepage Journal

      BIG difference if this was all a "for the public/good/mankind" effort.... making money from this stuff makes him look like a bloody spy/traitor/commercial scumbag.

      Yeah, because principled people dine on fluffy clouds of candy floss delivered by unicorns. They don't need any of that filthy lucre! How dare that bastard defend Wikileaks' interest like any other business would? For shame!

      Look: Assange is a jerk, and an angry one at that. So when he sees the Guardian positioning itself to take Wikileaks out of the decision-making process as to when and how the leaks get released, he pitches a fit. But he's also smart and technically astute, so he consults his lawyer, who tells him that in order to get an injunction stopping publication, Assange needs to demonstrate that he owns the material in question. Furthermore, he can threaten to sue for damages if he claims financial losses.

      For Assange, this is a reasonable approximation of the truth, and he's willing to use that line if it will pull the Guardian back into line, so that he can coordinate the release of the US diplomatic cables across 5 different news organisations. So he storms into the Editor's office, attorney by his side, and stakes his claim.

      Some of the Guardian staff, who are tired of Assange (because he's a jerk), want to tell him to go get stuffed. But the Editor sees that things could get messy. He gets everyone seated around a table and after a lot of talking (and some wine), everyone calms down.

      This is one of the most mundane little bits of newsroom drama imaginable. Egos get out of line, everyone fights over the right to release, and editors do what they do, which is to herd all the cats back into line.

      If anyone for a moment thinks that Assange is trying to cash in on this, they really need to learn a little about the guy. The Vanity Fair story itself says that for years he had only two outfits. He sleeps on people's couches, for heaven's sake. The guy can act like a paranoid prick, yes, but there's a hell of a lot more Stallman in him than Zuckerberg.

      This really changes the tenor, doesn't it?

      No, not at all. Now quick picking at the shiny bits of the story and try seeing what actually happened.

      • by servognome (738846) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:29AM (#34788362)

        So when he sees the Guardian positioning itself to take Wikileaks out of the decision-making process as to when and how the leaks get released, he pitches a fit.

        Which should raise a red flag, he sees his organization as the gatekeeper of information. We should be fearful of any organization that wields such control over data, especially since WikiLeaks has demonstrated they are not beyond using it in a threatening manner.
        It's clear that WikiLeaks is not about complete transparency and more about ensuring their own agenda is advanced.

      • by suv4x4 (956391)

        Compared to the "omg he said profit, all bets are off" interpretation of most Slashdot users, your post is giving me hope that not all tech nerds are a uniformly infantile bunch.

        That said, apparently a big share of them are.

      • by Vryl (31994)

        [Assange] can act like a paranoid prick, yes, but there's a hell of a lot more Stallman in him than Zuckerberg.

        Very good point.

        I see a lot of similarities between Assange and Stallman. Both have a clear view of what freedom and liberty are, and what needs to be protected to preserve them, and are prepared to work hard at at, produce the tools required, and be the stubborn sons of bitches that they need to be to make sure it happens.

        Assange and Stallman create software. Very good, very clever, very directed software, and use it to change the world.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:25PM (#34786068)

    Assange had a financial inerest in how and when it was released.
    No surprises here! I'd respect Assange if he lived up to his hype about "open access." Now we know why there are alternatives to WikiLeaks.
    (and yes, I did read the WLCentral.org item before posting. Shamir himself is not without controversy: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/04/309818.html [indymedia.org.uk]

  • Reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have a feeling the financial interests he was referring to could potentially be money given to him by other media outlets so they too can print the cables.
    Wikileaks requires funding and with paypal etc cutting it he could well be using the media as a substitute to donations, which isn't necessarily bad.

    If the Guardian was to publish documents before he was able to get them to other paying outlets that would cause them to get stroppy as they are no longer able to be first equal to print highly sought after

  • Say what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:32PM (#34786136)

    I'm sorry, did somebody use the phrase "journalistic standards" and "The Guardian" in the same sentence?

    • by slim (1652)

      I'm sorry, did somebody use the phrase "journalistic standards" and "The Guardian" in the same sentence?

      OK, I'm a knit-your-own-sandals-from-muesli long term Guardian reader since childhood, so I'm a bit biased -- but The Guardian seems to be at *least* the equal in terms of journalistic standards of any other UK broadsheet. It has strong claims to be the best.

      As the article says, it's the only British newspaper with a daily corrections column, and was the first to appoint an ombudsman (their "Readers' Editor").

      If you think The Guardian is seriously wanting in journalistic integrity, perhaps you should take i

  • Like, really?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by angus77 (1520151) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:38PM (#34786184)
    I mean, even if he thought so, what are the chances that he actually said.

    Smells of bullshit to me.
  • Guardian makes money selling advertising. The longer they string out the release of documents, the more times people come to visit the web site. Sure they might have gotten some additional documents and the potential for a scoop, but then they came back to their senses and decided that they can make more money with Assenage than without him.

  • Oh look, yet more character assassination of Julian Assange.

    At this point everything about him should be taken with a giant fucking grain of salt.

    • Either that (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:50PM (#34786782)
      Either that or he really is a douche bag.

      I'm more interested in the message, but good or bad it doesn't stop the messenger from being an asshole.

      This never should have been about him, but it seems he wanted his name and self out there. Smear campaign or not, he brought this shit on himself. Seems we can't have a Wikileaks story that doesn't mention or completely focus on the prick/saint. If Wikileaks were faceless, then the media would have to choose between focusing on the story or ignoring it. Assange has let them cop out and focus on the man.
      • Re:Either that (Score:4, Informative)

        by guspasho (941623) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:48PM (#34787190)

        They started out that way. He did an interview and explained that the media just focused on who mystery of anonymous people behind Wikileaks rather than talking about the information they were trying to expose. They also thought that it was cowardly of them to hide behind anonymity when their sources were taking big personal risks by leaking secrets to them. "If they believe information is meant to be free then why won't they reveal who they are?"

        Do you see how the situation can be easily be manipulated by demagogues no matter what you do?

        So Wikileaks are either cowards or opportunists, or both simultaneously. Much like how the media tells us the recent leaks of US secrets are "nothing new" and "incredibly reckless and damaging" at the same time. It's all spin and bullshit. Which is why you should disbelieve what you hear about Assange being an egotistical maniac. It's all meant to distract from the far more important point of the content of the leaks, and it's probably all untrue.

    • by nomadic (141991)
      At this point everything about him should be taken with a giant fucking grain of salt

      This is slashdot, though, we're supposed to worship Assange with no critical thought or doubt I thought.
      • No, on Slashdot, you're meant to read the stub, whinge about it sucking, read TFA, whinge about it being one-sided, offer an equally-but-oppositely biased piece via URL (without making it an actual link), and finally opine in the same way the stub did, just for the other side.

        This way, the sane and rational of us can be exposed to both sides of the coin, take from each the facts over the opinion, and come up with a reasonable approximation of the truth: Assange is a knob, but he's still not out to line his
    • Assange is a giant douchebag already, any further character assassination is not necessary.
  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@gmPOL ... om minus painter> on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:59PM (#34786842)

    Do you see what's going on here?

    The Character assassination plot on Assange was a major success. He's been in jail not so long, and the story is slowly going cold. Nobody is discussing it so eagerly anymore. Also, Julian's public image went down. Regardless of whether what The Guardian is saying is true or not, 30 days ago virtually nobody on /. would have bought the Guardian's story. Or we would've at least questioned it, not taking it as fact.

    Julian is in jail. Nobody believes in him anymore. Wikileaks is dead, and nobody even noticed. The CIA pulled yet another successful operation on its own people and the world, and the press took care of cleaning up after them. And nobody gives a fuck.

    I see very few people here that understand this. As usual, we are a minority, but when even in /., when everybody here is a minority, you can only see a minority of the minority display any kind of reasoning skills, you can tell something's fucked up.

    • by guspasho (941623)

      Wikileaks is not dead. Their website is still up. They are still reprinting the leaks that the Guardian and others are publishing even now. Bank of America is so nervous about impending leaks about them that they are buying up domains like "bankofamericasucks.com". Wikileaks is far bigger than just Julian Assange. He is just the public face.

    • Do you see what's going on here?

      The Character assassination plot on Assange was a major success. He's been in jail not so long, and the story is slowly going cold. Nobody is discussing it so eagerly anymore. Also, Julian's public image went down. Regardless of whether what The Guardian is saying is true or not, 30 days ago virtually nobody on /. would have bought the Guardian's story. Or we would've at least questioned it, not taking it as fact.

      It is entirely possible for Assange to be both a) a champion of

    • you can only see a minority of the minority display any kind of reasoning skills, you can tell something's fucked up

      Usually whats fucked up is the dosage of the medicine the "minority of the minority" should be taking daily.

      Seriously, there were people questioning just what Assange was all about back when he closed Wikileaks to public participation. And again when the shut down Wikileaks to hold the data hostage to raise funds (despite admitting he had enough to run the site for the remainder of th

    • by halivar (535827)

      The loveliest thing about blaming the black helicopters and CIA mind rays is that the theory can never be falsified.

    • A minority of a minority of a minority, ranting about how no one else sees what they can see... That's pretty much the definition of a fringe kook, isn't it?
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 07, 2011 @03:25AM (#34788616) Journal

      The Character assassination plot on Assange was a major success.

      If only he hadn't made it so easy.

      Nobody is discussing it so eagerly anymore

      That happens to every story after a while. No new documents have been released recently, that's the thing that matters, not Assange. Maybe you are just upset because you expected this to start a revolution or something.

      Julian is in jail. Nobody believes in him anymore. Wikileaks is dead, and nobody even noticed.

      What are you talking about? Most people I talk to, including me, are really interested to see what gets leaked about the banks. Wikileaks is far from dead.

      The CIA pulled yet another successful operation on its own people and the world, and the press took care of cleaning up after them.

      Oh, seriously? You think it was the CIA that did this? With the black helicopters? If the CIA were so good at PR, Pelosi would be in jail right now. They may have done this, but until there is evidence, I will leave you with this quote, "Conspiracy theories appeal to those who are more familiar with how Hollywood works than how the world works."

    • by migla (1099771)

      >Julian is in jail. Nobody believes in him anymore. Wikileaks is dead, and nobody even noticed.

      I don't know where you are looking to see this (and I'm not saying what you see is wrong), but a quick search for wikileaks on the website of the Swedish public tv would indicate that at least over here, wikileaks is still alive. There are not many days without a story from or pertaining to wikileaks and on many of the recent days, there have been several a day.

  • I supported the goals of WikiLeaks, supported the war diary releases and the believe openness in government is essential. But Assange is the weak leak. While he was in jail little to nothing was posted. All the Money donated is donated directly to him, not some foundation. He's claimed it's so he can be the lighting rod the face of wikileaks. But what I really see is an egotistical asshole that's motivated more by self interest that anything else. There is a very noble goal in trying to give the public acce

    • by guspasho (941623)

      They did not release all the cables. Only about 1-2% have been published so far, and not by Wikileaks but papers like the Guardian.Wikileaks is just their source. Wikileaks only provided the cables to a few papers, the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and two others whose names I forget. If any cable has been published at all, it was by one of those papers. Wikileaks only gave the information to them, and only them. They are the filter.

      And where do you get your information that Assange is the only

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:27PM (#34787032)

    First read this article:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all [newyorker.com]

    I think it will paint for you a picture of a very unusual person, clearly flawed but also clearly motivated by a quest for righteousness. I think he wants to stop wars more even than he wants to release information. He is certainly not doing this for money or comfort, though I hope he eventually finds both. He wants desperately to make an impact, and he was enraged at the Guardian for wanting to release the leaks on a different schedule because he wanted to optimize the timing for the sake of maximum impact. Yeah, it was stupid to threaten to sue and claim "ownership" - but even the article says that he later backed down from this, after a great deal of coffee and wine. Haven't we all said stupid things while overworked, stressed and sleep deprived? I don't think this episode should be taken to reveal too much about Assange. The article linked above is more informative, though also not exactly flattering.

    • "He wants desperately to make an impact....he wanted to optimize the timing for the sake of maximum impact"

      I've seen a few interviews/speeches of Assange where he says that he makes two promises to his sources. 1. Protect their identity. 2. Maximise the impact of their information.

      The Vanity Fair article is political gossip at it's finest (get well soon Hitchens). I'm not against opinion/gossip just suspect of people who assign serious weight to it. I prefer watching interiews of contraversial people
  • Financial interest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:32PM (#34787068)

    According to Wired, back in 2008 Wikileaks had a plan to sell exclusivity to certain documents [wired.com] to the highest bidder. These documents were embargoed, which meant eventually they'd be fully released, but until then the lucky winner would be able to report on them without competition.

    Which does make me wonder about the "financial interest" angle mentioned in the Vanity Fair piece... are any of these media outlets paying for access to the current set of leaked documents?

    • I remember that, they were planning to publicly reveal previews of the documents but couldn't work out an automatic way to redact - for example - every other word in hundreds of pages of documents (which may be scans and not OCR'd) and gave up.

      Which means that amongst all the bright people at wikileaks no one thought "Hey, let's just raster alternating 50pt black diagonal lines on every page" or was it obvious only to me?

    • by Vryl (31994)

      Assange has said, quite openly, that he has no problem paying leakers. He sees no reason why this should not happen, after all, they are the ones taking the risk.

      Why should the people who are not taking any of the risks (newspapers) profit from them exclusively?

      Wikileaks, Assange and all the staffers has costs like anyone else, as do the leakers themselves. The money has to come from somewhere, why shouldn't the newspapers pay?

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @11:33PM (#34787470)
    love it how Wikileaks is doing Big Media's Job and all they have time for is to try and stop him.
  • Wikileaks stands for the proposition that all the secrets of open governments should be laid bare for all to see while all the secrets of closed governments should remain secret.

    I'm not sure that is good.

  • Are we really even considering taking those guys seriously?
    It's probably all made-up.

  • At what point does the passcode get released?

  • by Neuticle (255200) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:03AM (#34789764) Homepage

    Every time I post on this, I get modded toll by somebody with an agenda, but I think it's important so I try again.

    Assange is a narcissist. He isn't doing anything honorable by dumping all this classified stuff. Leaking information which reveals wrongdoing is noble, wholesale dumping of classified material is chaos. Some secrets are secret for good reasons. For example:

    What good comes from leaking the cables of a diplomat clandestinely investigating human rights abuses? It simultaneously gave the oppressive regime a reason to be more oppressive and the names of people to go after, but Assange knows best - people have a right to know! See WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive [theglobeandmail.com]

    How about undermining a democratic reformer in Zimbabwe [theatlantic.com]? Did that do any good? I have a good friend in Zimbabwe, he's in enough danger already just for supporting the MDC. Now a cleptocratic tyrant has the excuse he needs to hold on to power, prolonging the misery of an entire country, and my friend might end up in jail, or dead. But I suppose the death and deprivation of faceless Africans won't keep Julian up at night.

    Oddly, one case where Mr. Assange saw fit to withhold information was the "Collateral Murder" video. Not because it could endanger somebody, but because it didn't fit with the narrative he constructed. Rather than objectively present the video with the relevant context, he purposefully left out any mention of the convoy that was approaching or the attacks that had recently occurred that same day, implying that the helicopter was just randomly firing at a group of people. He implies that the pilot's identification of weapons was incorrect, but fails to provide a copy or even a link to the report [scribd.com] (which was released, though names are redacted), which details fun facts like the RPGs and AKs they found on and around the "civilians". He doesn't mention that the Reuters employees had not told anyone where they were going to be, and were not wearing ANY press identification. I could go on...

    The point is that Assange has always had an agenda, and it certainly isn't exposing government wrongdoing, or even presenting the uncolored, unfiltered truth (if it doesn't suit him). I don't know why so many people here idolize him.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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