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Wikileaks Documentary Makers Accuse Assange of Censorship (newsweek.com)
174 points by msabalau 95 days ago | hide | past | web | 137 comments | favorite



I didn't know why he was so hell-bent against the movie then noticed this side link in the article: http://www.newsweek.com/documentary-inside-julian-assange-wo...

Assange comes off as a real machiavellian style asshole with vanity and manipulation seeming to him at least as important as his cause.

Snowden and Assange often seem to get lumped together but there's a world of difference in personal character, and also in mission. Saying such varied and complex issues are all just "leaking" does both their supporters and detractors a disservice. Details matter especially with so much at stake.


What difference does Assange's personality make?

If someone revealed Donald Trump's taxes, would you care if that person was a disgruntled, mentally unstable former-employee who had served time in prison for a morally abhorrent offense? Probably not.

But for some reason, when discussing Wikileaks, there is an elaborate and imaginative notion of Assange's personality, his strengths and weaknesses, etc. etc.

I think we should all realize that Assange has shown us outrageous and deeply disturbing revelations about many governments, the US Government in particular. The scale, deceitfulness, and human toll revealed by this information is many orders of magnitude larger than any minor concerns about Assange's personality or personal conduct.

That this isn't obvious to more people is deeply troubling to me. How did we become so compliant, so loyal to a government that would do this? How can we allow this to happen? Must we make the mistake of listening to our leaders as they tell us to vilify another Saddam, another Snowden, another Assange?

I think the unfortunate answer is that Americans do not care that brown-skinned people are being murdered all over the world due to US policies, and that hundreds of thousands of children go to bed every night hearing the buzz of drone aircraft, terrified that their home might be targeted.

Assange has given American democracy the opportunity to have some teeth and to allow the basic decency of a free society to rise up and correct for some of the wrongs that were revealed, but instead we talk about Assange's personality quirks and use the hashtag resist in support of the most establishment politician since Dick Cheney.


> What difference does Assange's personality make?

quite a lot of difference, actually. if you know someone to be driven by ego, greed, or other negative influences, then you must always question why he chooses to reveal this particular thing, at this particular time, and what other similarly important things he might be choosing not to reveal, because it doesn't suit his agenda.


Assange has been very transparent about his timing strategy, which is essentially a low budget PR strategy due to necessity.

If a single party came forward with information that had been sent to WL and ignored, you might have a point.

If you are a leaker and decide to leak to WL and the material is not published, then you can leak it elsewhere.

The idea that WL is a gatekeeper over what major leaked information sees the light of day is absurd. On the margin there may be a difference of opinion about the newsworthiness of a leak, but WL makes its policy on this extremely transparent.


It's important to remember that Assange is not simply operating a content-neutral distribution platform. He has the ability to time or suppress releases at whim to influence global politics. And so his whims are of great importance in judging the risk-vs-reward of Wikileaks.


Yes. However since he is essentially captive and sources of funding to WL have largely been blocked, he must utilize guerilla PR tactics to the fullest.

Of course I'd prefer if the leaked docs were all thoroughly vetted and used as source material by The NY Times, but due to political pressure the NYT distanced itself from assange and became one of the main propagators of the character assassination campaign against Assange.

If Assange had the ability to present major front page stories to the world, he could ignore timing, but it's the only available tactic at present.


I agree with your point but think it furthers the above logic that personality (or editorial motivation) matter quite a bit. Assange and his motivation is important as he has seemingly near total control of WL.


Exactly. Additionally, one might be forced to take a side in who they support with time or money. Assange and his ego has forced that decision before causing his co-founder to leave his ass with the data (destroyed it). Assange always loved the spotlight, being in control, money, and so on. His recent actions should be thought about with that in back of mind.


Assange always loved the spotlight, being in control, money, and so on.

Not in my experience. I had long discussions with him in 2009 and first met him in 1997. I have only seem him share information and resources and he is clearly motivated by genuine concern for the world. He was raised by left wing family on the east coast of Australia. He created an encryption system to resist torture from authoritarian governments. As early as the 1990s he released numerous hacks (strobe, traceroute spoofing, etc.) in good humour. He gave away accounts on his systems for free to others. This was all years before Wikileaks, and required mastering networking and mathematics to world-class levels at the time. These efforts and their shared results show that he has spent his lifetime motivated by factors other than greed and ego.

TLDR; In my view, which is nominally more informed than yours, you are basically re-spouting a baseless or near baseless government sponsored character assassination.

PS. Isn't this perfectly generic slander? Couldn't you mount the same accusation at anyone intelligent as soon as they get an audience?


"TLDR; In my view, which is nominally more informed than yours, you are basically re-spouting a baseless or near baseless government sponsored character assassination."

Or you're describing him in his youth which came before his fame plus how he presented himself in discussions with people that like him. I speak of his actions during Wikileaks not theory I gained from speaking to him. Most of his collaborators that left him said similar stuff. They didn't say it about their other associates.

"required mastering networking"

That's funny given his network security was shit until he hired some engineer to help him. He also lied to sources about what level of protection he offered. It's what all good people do. ;)

"He created an encryption system to resist torture from authoritarian governments."

Wow. You're the first, intelligent person I've heard describe it that way. It was actually designed for the total opposite: a person having encryption under a torture-loving, authoritarian regime would give them either nothing or a series of somethings they wouldn't believe. In other words, they'd keep getting tortured until the other side was satisfied with what they found or what damage they did. It was a brilliant, but insidious, system I'd never use for that reason. Incidentally, I never saw any report Julian Assange used it himself for Wikileaks. Cuz being tortured is for other people.

"Isn't this perfectly generic slander? Couldn't you mount the same accusation at anyone intelligent as soon as they get an audience?"

Most of them acted differently. Nothing psychotic or destroying their teams for ego. So, no I don't say the same thing about most other people when they get attention. If anything, they usually do similar stuff to what they were doing before but with more attention. Makes me wonder about Assange.


Are you serious? Your comment sounds like someone following a soap opera.

Would you care about the personal drama of the leaker of 10 years of Trump tax returns? The story is the leaked information, not the silly drama and rumor nonsense you describe.


The only drama was what Assange caused which split up Wikileaks team. Would you rather give money to effective, honest people or drama-loving liars if you had the choice? And could you even rely on accuracy of most leaks from someone who would scheme on his people or mislead sources about their safety for his own gain?

Sourcd integrity is always relevant. It's why spies and journalists are taught to assess that about potential sources. Half-assed integrity gets corroborated extra before trusted. Low integrity often gets ignored unless an organization wants to benefit from it.


If there was a leaker who leaked one thing, then I'd care less about their personal drama than if they were a continued source of leaks.


> Must we make the mistake of listening to our leaders as they tell us to vilify another Saddam, another Snowden, another Assange?

Saddam was no saint. His atrocities happened years before we entered, and the intel that justified our entrance was bad, but he wasn't a good guy. That's not propaganda.


Since when is spending trillions to attack a nation justified by its leader being an asshole? Saddam was mild compared to many other regimes at the time and was a US ally for years prior.

We basically annexed Iraq to support US regional interests and the idea that Saddam's personality had anything to do with it is absurd.

The ugly sectarian conflict we supported was effectively a cleansing of many of the nation's fighting age citizens...


More ironic is how the declassified documents from when we backed him described him as a "presentable, young man" and other nice things. Later was called "in some ways worse than Hitler" as U.S. and Europe gave him money or "dual-use technology." All political BS.


Excellent point


> Since when is spending trillions to attack a nation justified by its leader being an asshole?

He's more than just an asshole, he lead a genocide against the Kurdish people [1] and invaded Kuwait. And, I didn't say any of that justified our entrance circa 2001.

> Saddam was mild compared to many other regimes at the time and was a US ally for years prior.

He was a killer. That's not mild. I can't say why Reagan would've considered him an ally while he was gassing the Kurds. There are a lot of variables in play in foreign relations. Trump wants to be buddies with Russia while they've essentially admitted to messing with our elections [because we fund pro-democracy NGOs in Russia]. Who knows how Trump envisions the future of American foreign relations. He's certainly doing some unexpected things.

> the idea that Saddam's personality had anything to do with it is absurd.

You feel personality causes a person to kill thousands of people and invade other countries? Okay. Hitler had a shitty personality too, but that's not a particularly useful descriptor when talking about dictators. Lots of people have lousy personalities.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack


> He was a killer.

George W. Bush killed more Iraqi people than Saddam ever did and caused massively increased suffering throughout the region for decades after.

> You feel personality causes a person to...

No, my point is that personality has nothing do do with it. Nations act out of national interest. Psychoanalysis of "enemy" leaders is what the US does to help the American population hate that person enough to go to war. We're told that any foreign leader we're supposed to hate has a diagnosable psychiatric illness.

Not only is that false (they are typically rational and just acting in their own interests) it is disrespectful of people who actually do have mental health challenges.


> George W. Bush killed more Iraqi people than Saddam ever did and caused massively increased suffering throughout the region for decades after.

Let's say there's a hostage situation at a bank robbery. The police manage to catch or kill the two robbers, but in the process five civilians are killed. Who's at fault there? What if nobody in the community responds, and the attackers get away with money and kill all the hostages? You think the robbers will just stop after one bank, knowing that they can get away with it?

> No, my point is that personality has nothing do do with it

Then why did you bring it up? Everyone else was talking about Saddam's actions. You're the one who simplified it to his personality. If you don't believe his invasion of Kuwait and killing of the Kurdish people make him a bad guy, worse than Bush, then I simply disagree.


Saddam was mild? He threw people off roofs. I saw the videos. The roofs weren't even high enough to kill them outright.

I don't think it was a good idea to go launch a war at him, but it's good he's dead. That was one of the few silver linings in the Iraq debacle.

Unfortunately, the suffering greatly increased after Saddam's death, mostly because we tried to occupy the country. If we hadn't done that, things might've turned out differently.


Your parent only claimed that Hussein was mild compared to other regimes. I tried to find the video you mentioned and immediately found articles about Syrian rebels throwing people off roofs and ISIS doing it to gays, so maybe this claim wasn't too far-fetched.


Thank you for shining a light on this!

Americans don't even care that brown-skinned people are dying in their own communities. That's why Black Lives Matters was started.


You can support Wikileaks and it's goals, and still know Assange is a scumbag.


True but you in no sense is Assange's personal drama remotely relevant to the larger issues revealed by WL's publications.


I don't know why people still support Assange so clearly. It was interesting to me that people on /r/The_Donald love Assange so much. Before this documentary, I posted there criticising Wikileaks and it was totally hated on. I find that weird because the idea that Assange is unreliable and fake, was the kind of somewhat-counter-main-narrative idea that I thought people of T_D would appreciate. They seem to see him as some sort of hero. I wanted to point out that he seems to me to have once been good, but then he squandered by trading whatever his mission originally was, with some bullshit idea of being a martyr to serve his ego. I can't respect someone who talks about curing the world of ignorance, and having the courage to tell the truth, but then cowers for 7 years in a embassy because he's too afraid to stand up and tell the truth, whatever it was, about what happened. I mean, I know his existence is useful to the IC and various interests, but I personally just find him disgusting. And I genuinely had some belief in what Wikileaks could have stood for. But I don't really see it as that now. To me, Wikileaks and Assange totally sold out. Sorry to offend anyone who feels very differently. This is just my opinion on it.


It seem political when people criticize Assange political refuge to a embassy. There need to be some insight to show why it is not political. It also need to explain from a historical (ie scientifically) why the actions are not rational.

I personally have collected enough reason to be very skeptical against such criticism. The first Swedish prosecutor dropped the case. When it was restarted by a second prosecutor, several uninvolved lawyers looked into the case on behalf on news agencies and conclude that the case had zero chance of going anywhere. When compared to rape cases in Sweden that get dropped, get not-guilty in court, and the small number that get a guilty verdict, you either need to have physical evidence of violence/drugs where a medical expert use their experience to claim rape, a video recording, witnesses that strongly (and seems more common than not to fail here) to show that the victim was incapacitated when going to sleep, or a confession. In contrast to most cases all the details for Assange case has been leaked and it has shown none of those critical components for a successful case. In addition we get some more warning clocks ringing when the European arrest warrant made a record for the lowest number of potential year in prison. A second record was achieved by the the amount of money spent in regard to the number of potential year in prison.

It could be a unicorn, a one of the kind where all the stars align to a guilty verdict, but the case smells political. The rational behavior when the legal system turn political is to run and hide.


It became a much bigger deal once he fled first Sweden, and then British jurisdiction. That set up it as a test of the powers of the legal systems of those countries.

If you allow someone to escape prosecution simply by raising the costs/creating inconvenience, you all but guarantee others to try to do the same, and/or to lose faith in the equality of justice.

Regarding the common conspiracy theories: always remember that he was arrested, then freed on bail, in both countries. If they had wanted to extradite him to Guantanamo, they would've done it long ago.


> always remember that he was arrested, then freed on bail, in both countries

That's not how I remember it, but given that it has been a long time (2010), I accept that my memory could fail me here, so I tried to google it.

Assange was questioned by the police during the preliminary investigation. He left Sweden about a month after the start of the investigations. The sources are a bit fuzzy then, Wikipedia writes: He left Sweden on 27 September 2010. According to one source his departure was with the permission of the Swedish authorities. Another source claims that the Swedish authorities notified Assange's lawyer of his imminent arrest on that same day.

So he was neither arrested in Sweden nor freed on bail in Sweden.


> If they had wanted to extradite him to Guantanamo, they would've done it long ago.

Do you have any evidence to support this claim?


If this case has no chance of going anywhere, then why run? A prosecutor acting based on political motives isn't uncommon, though unfortunate. But to actually convict Assange with so little evidence would require subverting the criminal justice system, tampering with witnesses, judges and the jury, which is far more egregious and unlikely. I don't have much faith in the ethics of prosecutors, but the judicial system I consider far less susceptible to political interference.


> If this case has no chance of going anywhere, then why run?

I think it's common knowledge that he cited concerns about extradition to the US as the reason for leaving Sweden.

For context, this was just a few years after The Pirate Bay bust. TPB operated for a while claiming that they are breaking no Swedish law and seemed resistant to takedown attempts until suddenly the police raided them and they were arrested and sentenced. It wasn't uncommon to see claims that Swedish government sold out to Uncle Sam at the time.


Except he was in the UK for almost 2 years fighting the extradition to Sweden. The whole time he was saying the Swedish extradition was "actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US" as if the UK is any less likely to cooperate with the US. If the US wanted him they could have asked for extradition from the UK during those 2 years.


IIRC: as a citizen it was somehow harder to extradite him from UK than from Sweden.


As far as I know he’s not a UK citizen, but an Australian citizen. But maybe being from the commonwealth counts as special?


I am totally willing to believe that it was a setup by the CIA or some allied intelligence service.

That said, once he was stuck in the embassy, he left himself vulnerable to being manipulated by the Russians and now it seems he is acting as a Russian agent.

I think the us badly botched its handling of Wikileaks, Snowden and manning and allowed Putin to use them to his advantage.


The Russian deal has a fairly good explanation. Clinton made some very direct threats and attacks towards Assange in media after the diplomatic leaks, resulting in a personal vendetta between the two. All that talk about treating him as an enemy combatant, drone attacks, assassinations and so on has made it personal. In that context, if Russia gave him political ammunition then I am not very surprised that he used it.

He is no more a neutral party when talking about Clinton than Clinton would be talking about Assange. Any data brought by one party against the other need to be read in that context.


> He is no more a neutral party when talking about Clinton than Clinton would be talking about Assange.

This may or may not be true, but it does not matter since the approach WL takes is to release materials in full without editorial discretion/bias.


> This may or may not be true, but it does not matter since the approach WL takes is to release materials in full without editorial discretion/bias.

Where's your proof of this? The DNC leaks certainly had a lot of missing emails that may have served to provide context for conversations that were used as "evidence" of misdoings.


> The DNC leaks certainly had a lot of missing emails that may have served to provide context for conversations that were used as "evidence" of misdoings.

Where is your proof of this? I'm not being flippant. You take an unsubstantiated claim and argue against it with an unsubstantiated claim.

Note however, that the unsubstantiated claim that Wikileaks releases all materials without editing or redaction is extremely well-vetted, and the belief that they do redact is, so far as I know, only held by you.


I'm not aware of a single missing email.

If someone had come forward with an email and offered it as evidence that WL had withheld even a single one, I would view WL much differently.

Instead, WL took the trouble to DKIM verify as many as possible. Afaik none of the embarrassing or politically potent emails failed DKIM verification and nobody offered any evidence that emails in a chain were removed from the archive. Even claims of tampering were dropped after the DKIM verification was installed.


> once he was stuck in the embassy, he left himself vulnerable to being manipulated by the Russians

Err, how? Does Ecuador have good relations with Russia or something?


> That said, once he was stuck in the embassy, he left himself vulnerable to being manipulated by the Russians and now it seems he is acting as a Russian agent.

I wrote something along those lines a few months back: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13513523

I have little reason to doubt that Assange and Wikileaks as Russian agents. However, I'm willing to defer to Gruqg and his chain of deduction: Wikileaks was always destined to be become the unwitting propaganda horn of a foreign power.


>it seems he is acting as a Russian agent.

That's certainly what the CIA want us to believe.


> I can't respect someone who talks about curing the world of ignorance, and having the courage to tell the truth, but then cowers for 7 years in a embassy because he's too afraid to stand up and tell the truth, whatever it was, about what happened.

It was more about not wanting to rot in US prison, I think.


> It was more about not wanting to rot in US prison, I think.

That seems a perfectly rational decision to me.


Except that a) the US weren't interested (ironically, they may be now) and b) he repeatedly refused to meet Swedish investigators at the embassy, where there was no chance of rendition whatsoever.

People were dropping out of Wikileaks 10 years ago because of Assange's behaviour. Seems like Poitras is just the latest in a long line of people who are attracted to the principles of Wikileaks, but turned off by the reality.


he repeatedly refused to meet Swedish investigators at the embassy, where there was no chance of rendition whatsoever.

Sources? Because this is the exact opposite of what I read: that Swedish investigators had repeatedly refused to interview him there.

Edit: I googled and I'm still convinced I'm right: https://www.google.com/search?q=why+dont+swedish+police+inte...

Edit2: unless someone can show sources moomins answer I'll say it is wrong and dangerously wrong in that it spreads a lie.

I still can't understand why no-one has bother to either downvote it or provide sources for it.

I don't necessarily like Assange but lets not lie to create more trouble for him.



So - unless anyone has more trustworthy sources - Assange has offered his testimony for years as long as they would meet him in the embassy and Sweden has refused.


You're correct. Sorry, I misremembered.


Actually, he did a show interview in the embassy, where the prosecutors weren't allowed to ask direct questions.


>he repeatedly refused to meet Swedish investigators at the embassy

It was them who repeatedly refused to meet him. He offered to meet them repeatedly.


The US wasn't interested? With Manning in jail? He's not a US citizen. For him, US prison would be a lucky outcome. Rendition and torture would be a realistic fear.

I do, on the other hand, wonder why he'd consider Sweden a greater risk than the UK.


Well, us patriots would have found some reason to despise him anyway.. so why not get a room with a view?


I've observed that Trump and his supporters live in a childishly simple world where anything and anyone who says "good" or supportive things is hailed and anyone who criticizes or questions Trump is derided and held in contempt, irrespective of any actual factual basis.


You realize that the other side is the same right?


Er... no they're not. Watch Bill Maher whinge about protests against him from other progressives sometimes. He'd love to live in a world where progressives behaved like that, he'd be a hero.


Isn't this just politics?

Here is an example: After the DNC scandal against Sanders with DWS resigning I posted an article by Greenwald on this in /r/politics. It was downvoted with such reasons as 'Greenwald is an un-patriotic [homophobic slur] who is afraid to enter the US because he doesn't want to face responsibility for his actions against the US.'


Actually no - politics in democratic systems should transcend this immature behaviour. Meaning, at some point of heated debate, those with no feelings involved take a step back, and find a middleground solution, a compromise with which both sides can live. And usually that boring compromise is accepted by the majority of the people.

The problem starts when the majority of the people are cut off from economic growth and participation. They can sense the world moving own, without needing them and rebell against that (for good reason- i presume that alot of HN readers would form similar rebelions, if the big Four would discard them all .


>Actually no - politics in democratic systems should transcend this immature behaviour.

We actually agree on that. My point was that it is my observation politics in general suffers from the above problem, not just Trump supporters.


> politics in democratic systems should transcend this immature behaviour.

Yes it should. But in highly politicized subreddits, left or right, it doesn't.


>Actually no - politics in democratic systems should transcend this immature behaviour.

This isn't a democracy, it's a republic. Any compromise needs a supermajority of citizens in support of a majority of elected officials. With the two party system, often compromising can lead to an election loss even if the majority of voters were in favor of the end bill.


Sigh. It's a representative democracy and a republic. The terms aren't incompatible.

Just because the dichotomy was James Madison's hobby horse and he scribbled it down in Federalist No. 10, doesn't mean that it is gospel. The US has been referred to as a representative democracy since its founding.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...


I think what he's trying to say is that a representative democracy with single-member districts (rather than any sort of party lists) and first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all electoral system, is inherently biased against political compromises and towards partisan polarization.


> with single-member districts (rather than any sort of party lists)

Single-member, FPTP districts are the issue (or, rather, the lack of proportionality and meaningful choice that comes with that is the issue); the absence of party lists, OTOH, is irrelevant. There are solutions to the issues posed by single-member, FPTP districts that retain candidate-centered elections and do not use party lists. (STV in multimember—but not necessarily at-large—districts is one of them.)


How do you get proportional representation with single-member districts without involving party lists somehow (as in e.g. MMP)? STV doesn't fix it - while it makes third party votes viable, it still means that third parties are going to win far fewer districts than the overall proportion of their vote across all districts.


> How do you get proportional representation with single-member districts without involving party lists somehow (as in e.g. MMP)?

It's hard if you keep single-member districts, though there are possibilitie: (e.g., assign seats to parties based on share first-preference votes across all districts, with all the same handling of minimum thresholds, etc, you would apply in party list proportional, and then elect specific candidates from the by-district elections as follows:

- If a parties total number of allocated seats is equal to the number of candidates they have remaining in districts where no candidate has been elected, elect all of those candidates.

- Otherwise, elect the candidate from the party whose currently-elected # of candidates is the smallest fraction of their allocated seats (breaking ties in favor of the largest absolute deficit) who has the greatest share of the vote in the district in which they competed.

- Repeat until all allocated seats are filled.

Voilà: all the partisan proportionality of party-list proportional, with candidates elected from single-member districts, with candidate centered voting, and no party lists.

I think practically STV or a similar system in small multimember districts (about 5 members per district) is probably a better balance of proportionality and individual candidate accountability (and results in more people having a candidate that is both local and politically acceptable than most other systems), and STV of course can scale to any level of proportionality at the expense of greater number of candidates and larger districts.

Party lists provide an easy route to partisan proportionality but eliminate direct accountability to the general electorate of individual representatives. Ideally, I think, you want both proportionality and individual accountability to the general electorate.


I think direct accountability is overrated. Not to say that it shouldn't be there, but I don't think it's important enough that the electoral system should be fixated on it as the primary goal. For example, in US today, despite single-member districts (which put it as the cornerstone), party politics dominate in practice.

I think MMP is a reasonable compromise system between direct accountability and regional representation on one hand, and proportional representation of national politics on the other - each district still gets a direct representative (or several; I'm not opposed to multimember districts in general), but party lists are used to keep the overall balance of power in line with the national vote.

The risk with the system that you describe is that it can still skew results substantially. For example, a party that consistently gets just under 20% of the vote across all districts would end up with no seats at all, although 20% is a significant proportion of the population, and in fairness is entitled to appropriate representation. This can be improved by adding more members per district, but then the legislature becomes unwieldy - in fact I would dare say it would be unwieldy even at 5 members per district in US, since it would push the number of representatives over 2000. Increasing district sizes proportionally would mitigate that, but it also decreases the connection between the elected representative and the people in their district, and thus also accountability.


This doesn't change anything I said beyond the first sentence. They described what should happen under a "democracy" and since our democratic system is unarguably a republic, things don't work that way.

Sorry I hit some strange political nerve. I remember the internet being full of the "ugh, were not a democracy" posts too, but I also swore some oath to the republic every day for a decade.


> This isn't a democracy, it's a republic

Please stop spreading this false dichotomy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic

"""In American English, the definition of a republic can also refer specifically to a government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body, known elsewhere as a representative democracy (a democratic republic),[4] and exercise power according to the rule of law (a constitutional republic)."""


It is not a democracy in the form their example illustrated, it is a democratic republic. I didn't think that statement would be controversial as it is true for what I assumed was the definition of democracy used.


Very interesting observation. Thanks for sharing.


This is inarguably true.


This is an emergent property of the human brain: pitch forks and flaming torches etc.


Donald Trump is completely irrelevant to my support of Assange.

Like many of his critics, you are making a lot of ad hominem attacks on Assange rather than focusing on his massive contributions to democracy and journalism.


And you are excusing his reprehensible personal behavior because of those contributions. Contributions that could be made by Wikileaks staffers without his presence.


I'm not sure what specifically you are referring to... but whatever it is it is being used as a distraction from the issues revealed by WL. Chances are even without Assange involved there would be attempts by many governments to discredit those operating WL.


> Assange comes off as a real machiavellian style asshole with vanity and manipulation seeming to him at least as important as his cause.

Did you get all that from the short clip of Assange talking Russia and Clinton...?

If I understand correctly the damning part (of Risk) is when he makes weird allegations against the women he is accused of rapeing...


>Snowden and Assange often seem to get lumped together but there's a world of difference in personal character, and also in mission

Is there actually?


the release of the Macron "documents" - complete w/ all the evidence of Russian manipulation and fakery, hanging MS Word edit tags in cyrillic, etc, in the official dump, says volumes. They didn't bother to even read through the stuff before dumping it on the public.


Macron documents weren't released by WikiLeaks, or are we talking some other leak from him?

https://www.wired.com/2017/05/macron-email-hack-french-elect...


You're right, I think what I recall was WikiLeaks promoting the pastebin dump, then there was some quote that was circulated by one of their PR people say they had no reason to believe the documents were falsified, when other people were pointing out the cyrillic edit tags prevalent throughout the dump


You missed that part of the story where the French staffers got knowledge of the intruders and deliberately changed some documents, to come up with the counterpropaganda after the leak. It was not much, but stopped prosecutors and the public to go after Macron. Which is a shame, but we got used to cointel in the meantime, and media is not helping.


The other side: http://www.newsweek.com/wikileaks-attorneys-blast-citizenfou...

"To be clear: our objections are not about censorship. WikiLeaks remains an unwavering advocate for freedom of expression. This is about safety. It is about protecting journalistic sources. It is about personal and professional integrity, and honoring contractual obligations.

Our second major concern about Risk is the way the focus of the film has been radically altered from a broadly sympathetic portrayal of WikiLeaks’ work and the attacks against its staff by the U.S. government to an ill-defined indictment of the "culture of sexism" online."


This is an interesting argument:

> Poitras has also violated her unambiguous promise to the subjects of the film that they would have an opportunity to review the film in advance and request changes, and that they could decline to appear if they or their lawyers felt that the movie put them at risk.

So I'm wondering whether Assange declined to appear, and she refused. That'd be funny, in a sad way.

Still, I've followed Assange's work for decades. Maybe he's been a sexist asshole at times. The flesh is weak, no doubt. But I don't get how that can be a criticism of Wikileaks.

Edit: In the parent article, Poitras says:

> There were individuals who requested from the beginning not to appear in the film, and those requests were respected.

I wonder what the contract actually says about the right of subjects to decline to appear.


> Maybe he's been a sexist asshole at times. The flesh is weak, no doubt. But I don't get how that can be a criticism of Wikileaks.

That's the halo effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

Any quality, good or bad, will affect the perception of other qualities. If people come to believe Assange is a sexist asshole, they will trust Wikileaks less, even if the two have little to do with each other.

Another example would be Hans Reiser. Does killing one's wife makes one a worse programmer? Probably not. Still, I bet many people would be reluctant to trust him on file systems stuff, because, well, he killed his wife!


For some reason my mind immediately went to the fact that Wikileaks has to honor protecting its sources.

I know it should be real obvious that the task of protecting sources itself is most paramount in their operation, but for some reason I get the feeling that "full disclosure" includes "how do you get the info / who do you get the info from / tell us juicy secrets / tell us the truth about your legal cases". I don't know why, it's not that I do or don't fully trust Wikileaks, I think they can do both good and bad for the world -- not very different from any government, but I don't expect Wikileaks to get a fair shake from many people.

Everyone is looking to get the best information these days to get ahead. Information and data is the name of the game so the possibilities are really endless when it comes to the lengths people would go to get that information.


Sure. But prudent leakers handle that themselves. So there really isn't anything to protect. Leaking is different from journalism. In journalism, identities of sources matter. In leaking, only the leaks matter. And, by the way, I don't believe that Snowden needed to dox himself. He left the decision to Poitras and Greenwald, and I think that they unnecessarily trashed his life.


I thought it was because both Snowden and Greenwald believed that the US would identify him sooner or later and if his identity wasn't public the CIA would quietly arrest him illegally abroad, like they did to others before, and nobody would even know.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-day-we-revealed-snowdens-...


> This is about safety. It is about protecting journalistic sources.

Shameless hypocrisy. They had few concerns about safety when they released classified information.


The specific claims: “In WikiLeaks’ efforts to prevent the distribution of ‘Risk,’ they are using the very tactics often used against them – legal threats, false security claims, underhanded personal attacks, misdirection – and with the same intentions: to suppress information and silence speech"


It is funny to see Wikileaks complaining about leaks. Not even leaks, but rather material provided voluntarily. They were obviously gobsmacked by Poitras turning on them.

I must say, however, that Wikileaks overall censors leaks much less heavily than do Greenwald, Poitras and crew. I mean, does anyone know what percentage of Snowden's stuff that's been released? It's my impression that it's small.

Edit: typo


Re Poitras turning on Assange: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/23/risk-a-sad-comedown-...

I had forgotten that she and Appelbaum had been lovers. Bringing him into the mix destroys the film's objectivity.


What is this supposed to convince me of? I am now more convinced that Assange is guilty if this is the way his defenders talk.

This reads like a guy trying to defend a rapist. Does he seriously not understand why people get touchy on the subject of sexual assault when he calls it political correctness? This is not simple unorthodoxy as alleged in your link but a serious crime.

It's​ also hilarious that he is compared to Gandhi at the end.


I've read many articles about what went down in Sweden. I've seen no claims that he forced either woman to have sex. He didn't seduce them. They wanted to have sex with him, and bragged to their friends.

And they remained friendly with him afterward. Until they learned that he'd had sex with both of them. That's when it got crazy. Also, one of them was concerned that a condom had broken, and wanted him tested for STDs. That's initially why she filed a police report.

After that, it was mostly driven by the prosecutor. It's not impossible that the US government played a role in that. But the women were initially Wikileaks supporters, and weren't likely part of a plot to entrap him.


I googled and found: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange...

If this is as reported, I am not a lawyer but it sounds like he committed a crime, and he is most certainly a major asshole, among other things pushing the boundaries of what constitutes consent, then making the other party feel uncomfortable in their own home.

Then he blames the consequences on a global conspiracy. Probably part of the abuser personality, to evict himself from blame.

I was thinking, western intelligence has done a lot of sketchy things, usually in the form of coups, more recently with "enhanced interrogation" or eavesdropping... But I am not aware of any other case where people claim they falsely accused somebody of rape. Doesn't fit the profile.


Thanks, I hadn't seen that article. He does sound horrible. And yet, I wonder why those women took so long to decide that they'd been raped. I have read that it's not uncommon. And I suppose that, being Wikileaks supporters, they didn't want to make a scene.

So yes, he does seem like a major asshole.


It's a documentary. Criticism of it should be based on facts, not some assertion that the director is an emotional slut.


It's no longer a documentary. It's a personal attack. It's not that Poitras is "an emotional slut". It's that she has an agenda, which is very different from the one that she professed when starting the project. She should have killed the project. And it may well turn out that she violated her working agreement with Wikileaks.


That is actually a pretty good point and not one that was obvious to someone who follows this topic and these are big figures in it (behind Greenwald, Snowden, Assange, etc.)


I thought that was the whole idea? Let them curate and release the relevent information?


I guess. But many are pissed off about how little's been released. And about how much it's been monetized.

Edit: OK, "profited from".


How much has it been monetized? How do we know only a small amount of it was released?


I should have said "profited from". I mean, The Intercept was built on them. Greenwald and crew have probably earned millions of dollars from them.

The US government claims that he took millions of documents. We haven't seen more than thousands, I think. And I've read claims that only a small percentage has been released.


the USG claim has been aggressively disputed by GG et al


Cryptome was keeping a tally of what has been released. The problem is the total size of the trove is not known publicly. But yes, it would be a very tiny percentage.

https://cryptome.org/2013/11/snowden-tally.htm


Thanks. That accounting has been updated through 18 November 2016. It seems like at most 1% has been released.


This would carry more weight with links to the specific court filings. Would it be possible to track these down?


Isn't it rational to focus on outcomes. For the average citizen who doesn't work for the government or has a vested interest there is no context in which they would not value more transparency, especially when the cost is borne almost exclusively by Assange, Snowden, Poitras and others. The constants attempts to belittle and discredit them without considering the overall outcomes seem motivated and desperate.

Shutting down conversation by smug references to conspiracy theories is not as easy to do now. On the contrary it's the people who hang on desperately to the 'safety' of fantasy narratives and demand Snowden level sacrifice or signed confessions from authorities who seem out of touch and suspect.

Illusions and delusions about fundamental principles and values lies in tatters. Its not as easy to trade in pretensions and present a holier than thou attitude while working the backroom. And for those interested its now possible to have a more informed perspective of our world. That's a huge contribution by wikileaks.


The unauthorized release of the Film has caused our clients to suffer ongoing irreparable harm, and exponentially increasing damages every time a new viewer sees the Film.

Somebody will be very rich, very fast.

Yeah, I know I'm fighting a lost battle. But that's the most ridiculous abuse I have seen in a while.


I remember seeing a documentary many years ago where they interviewed a lot of Wikileaks ex-staff and Assange came off as a power-mad megalomaniac. I don't remember the name but my view of Assange was completely changed after that.

Does anyone know what documentary I'm talking about? It was aired on Swedish television (this was before the sexual offense accusations).


I've always had mixed feelings about Assange going back to the beginning of WL. While I take my hat off to what he has claimed is the purpose of WL, I never quite trusted Assange the man. It always felt to me like the kind of power that WL has needs to be wielded by a person of great moral integrity and Assange never struck me as that kind of person.

Information is powerful and it can be used both to force transparency and it can be used as a weapon. My impression is that Assange views it more as a weapon that he can use against others.

Nobody can operate effectively in a 100% transparent environment. I was living overseas when WL released the State Department communications and most of the information released pertaining to the country I was living in revealed little of noteworthiness. It was all tabloid level stuff where some ambassador made a dismissive or insulting comment about some government official in a report back to Washington.

How would any of us like every email we've ever written to be put into the public domain? If we were doing nothing illegal what purpose would it serve to let everyone know that I hate my aunt's cooking and tried to get out of a family dinner in June of 2013? The only thing that information would do is embarrass me and strain my relationship with my aunt. No public good comes from it.

And that's where I see many of the WL releases being. Many leaks seem to stir up trouble where nothing illegal or malicious is actually occurring.

So, an organization like WL has a great responsibility. I applaud them for uncovering deceit and illegal activities, and I think we need some outside force doing it, but they also need to use that power in a way such that they don't try to prove their own importance by releasing information that is merely sensationalistic in order to heighten their brand.

I've never trusted Assange to be the kind of person who can make that distinction. WL would be much better off in the hands of someone/people who were far less concerned about elevating their own notoriety and were able to better able to separate the mission of WL from the politics.


> Nobody can operate effectively in a 100% transparent environment. > Many leaks seem to stir up trouble where nothing illegal or malicious is actually occurring.

A distinction has to be made between secrecy and privacy. While Assange built a great tool against secrecy (and that's what scares Washington and alikes), it may be something good for privacy (hypothetically, the relationship with your aunt is safe, and maybe safer than before Wikileaks).

Things work when the penalty is commensurate with the bad behaviour, if there's no penalty than you're inciting "the bad things"...

If your definition of "bad things" is "everything that's illegal", you're making a reference to the law, but what we should consider is that the law is made by humans. Wikileaks targets those who think they are exempted not only by law, but also by morality, and do this using the threat of completely exposing them ...

If you partially expose things, choosing what to publish and what's private; than not only you are implicitly expressing a priori judgment without clearly exposing it, but you’re manipulating the data and decreasing the punishment too (effectively incentivising the wrong behaviour).

I think that exposing some of the dirty little secrets of these big players is not something that the average Jane/Joe can do, and is definitely not something that you should expect from someone with a strong moral integrity, or excessive scruples of conscience.

Trust is something tricky in intelligence chess games.

Penalty is what is needed here, things won’t change until we require the governments to put the people responsible of killings, dragnets, … in jail. But Hacking Team is still happily up and running despite their actions and the same goes for the attitude of the American intelligence community.

I might also agree, but I’m sorry to say that we still need Wikileaks.


I don't think we're that far off. I didn't say we didn't need WL. I said, I don't necessarily trust Assange to be in charge of it. He's a self-promoter. A hypocrite. Opinionated. These are things even some of his best friends might say about him. Not exactly the character traits for someone who has access to things that may be both secret and private.

If he has secret video of US forces firing on unarmed civilians, yes, of course, I consider it an obligation of WL to release it and expose who covered it up.

If a diplomat sends a cable back to his superiors at the State Department and says, "The prime minister is rumored to act irrationally under stress. I suggest that we do not snap react to any statements he makes without obtaining further clarifications from other contacts within the administration." what good does that information being in the public domain do? It embarrasses the prime minister. It ruins the relationship between the sender and the prime minister. But what public good does it do to have this information in the public domain?

Sometimes I think WL revels in knocking the powerful down a peg or two whether or not they've actually done anything other than share a private thought that was now exposed to the public.

And part of my point is that I think Assange already picks sides. He's doling out punishment based on his own political biases. That's why I don't trust him.


> I don't necessarily trust Assange to be in charge of it.

As long as published documents are verifiable by a third party, you don't need to trust him.

> If a diplomat sends a cable back to his superiors at the State Department and says ...

When a government does not listen, you get to a point where you need unconventional (read controversial) arguments to be heard. Like it or not, the more things you publish, the more impact you have: that's exactly what Wikileaks is.

For a more detailed exposition: https://youtu.be/TSR-b9yuTbM

> He's doling out punishment based on his own political biases.

It may be, but is it really relevant? If you have infos regarding Russian and/or Chinese activities that Wikileaks do not want to disclose, you can always publish them through another channel.


I feel the opposite way. WL seems fairly harmful, but Assange is a hacker, he's one of us, taking on state-level actors. I kinda have to root for him a bit...


Everybody should thank Assange for what he has done for us, regarding he is an ass or not.


Not terribly surprised, it's been well known that Assange leaks what he wants, and doesn't care much after the leak. A lot of information, like the email "dumps" didn't have valid DKIM headers for one. A lot of their stuff is questionable at best now.


Can you please provide sources? I verified a many of the DKIM headers myself and they were all fine. This was actually one of the strongest pieces of evidence in favor of the legitimacy of the emails. Also, I'm not sure why you say "it's well known"; it's not known to me, and I'm fairly interested in this area.


> strongest pieces of evidence in favor of the legitimacy of the emails

Well the DNC is pretty open about the fact that they were hacked, and there's implants on their servers, so clearly someone took control on the email server. The presence and accuracy of DKIM headers is solid evidence the emails are from the hackers, but not necessarily of their legitimacy. If they had complete control of the email server, then they would have access to the DKIM's private key, making it trivial to spoof emails.

So yeah, definitely from the email server, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's authentic. Though IMO it's likely authentic, the DNS as far as I know hasn't challenged the authenticity of any emails, and I were forging emails I'd make them a lot more damaging than what we've been given.


Hey,

It's definitely been some time, but I noticed (personally verifying DKIM records) that a good chunk of the Podesta emails didn't pass. I'd have to dig out those exact emails again, unfortunately.


Do you realize what you're saying here?

This is a huge claim, and if you can verify it, it will be very big news in the (fairly dedicated and savvy) communities that follow this.

Additionally, it's possible to provide airtight evidence to demonstrate this huge claim.

> I'd have to dig out those exact emails again, unfortunately.

Something of this magnitude is probably worth the time.


Hey,

I did write up a little bit below in a comment, before your post:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14573981


I checked DKIM records and they did pass. Many emails did not have DKIM headers, but I never found one that contained DKIM headers, and failed validation.


Hmm, interesting. I'm now downloading the archive and going to run through and check again.

Edit: Huh, guess Wikileaks has a hard 40Mbit down limit for downloads, this might take a while.

Edit 2:

Not sure if this is due to time since leaks, and weirdness, but one such email I found was https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/41063

    dkim.ValidationError: body hash mismatch (got xYeNHE1y7S7c90FEmj0Clvuu8UkskqNWL3LiuMxCrsc=, expected SFTNrt5rWQXzb3TEj9vxbo/FLGDSOiYFg+04PjFRv3A=)

While I'm finding valid headers, I'm finding a good portion of negatives too. I have to sort through the spam emails in his inbox first though (lots of irrelevant DKIM failures).

Edit 3:

Just some numbers (which are definitely inflated from the spam emails I found, by how much I'm not sure):

  root@ubuntu-512mb-nyc1-01:/mnt/volume-nyc1-01# cat output | wc -l
  9981
  root@ubuntu-512mb-nyc1-01:/mnt/volume-nyc1-01# cat totest | wc -l
  28024
  root@ubuntu-512mb-nyc1-01:/mnt/volume-nyc1-01# ls out/ | wc -l
  50887
Edit 4 (and the last):

The quick script thrown together to put numbers together, https://gist.github.com/Omeryl/c6cbe603721f5671b9056ca127399.... I don't have the time to go through and see how many of those messages are spam that are just failing to validate, etc. It's worth noting that some messages may be failing to validate because x= is past, etc, as well.


Someone tested several on Reddit using two different validators. There were some that failed validation with one of the validators. Details are in the document linked to in the Reddit submission. Here is the Reddit submission: https://www.reddit.com/r/WikiLeaks/comments/58w8nh/the_podes...


Yeah, but the author claims that they are valid at the end of the post. Also see:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DNCleaks/comments/58v1if/dkim_verif...


I mean, you can go verify it yourself. This is the way I feel: even if some of them are valid, what prevents someone from adding in a bunch that aren't? Just because some are valid, doesn't make the entire dump valid imo.


This probably isn't a claim you should be making without evidence.


That form of censorship was not alleged. You are imagining things.

They're accusing him of attempting to censor the personal stuff, such as the sexual misconduct allegations. Personally I'm mixed on whether those belong in a documentary about WikiLeaks given how irrelevant they are to the organizational purpose.


Those allegations caused the leader of the group to take refuge in a nation's embassy and stay there for years. They seem incredibly relevant to the organization, regardless of it's "purpose".


No, I'm not referring to the article in this case. I'm saying just in general, Wikileaks is hardly the angel some people make it out to be sometimes.


> Personally I'm mixed on whether those belong in a documentary about WikiLeaks given how irrelevant they are to the organizational purpose.

It's a documentary about Assange. Why would it not include "personal stuff"?


I was under the (perhaps wrongful) impression that it was about WikiLeaks in main, and referenced Assange only to serve that topic.


All the coverage I've seen indicates it's primarily an Assange documentary, and that it was one even in the earlier cut that Assange approved of.

Even if it were explicitly a Wikileaks documentary, I don't see how Assange and his personal life wouldn't be a fair subject. A documentary about the Civil War will probably include info on Lincoln, a WWII one will probably talk about Hitler and his life, etc.


The rape accusations and Assange himself are intricately tied to Wikileaks, how it functions, and responses to it's actions. Not including those accusations or his response to them when they were widely speculated by some to be brought force by Sweden at the behest of the United States in retaliation to Wikileaks would be odd in a documentary about Wikileaks that happened to cover that period.




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